Khalid Abudawas 

Al Quds (Jerusalem)

if I gave you my cousin’s bones
would you recognize them?
I have an entire album of faces who look like me
they all have our family’s smile
their lips look like they’re trying to burst out the sides of their faces
their olive skin and hazel eyes are familiar


I don’t know a single name
decades of martyrs, I do not recognize
of everyone in my family who has died for
where all the open doors are caskets


I imagine my 15 and 16 year old cousins’ bones
I do not recognize them
they were shot
I don’t even know what it sounded like
all I have are photos, and an Aunt who had a stroke
she can’t speak,
but she can scream
and every time I ask her about her boys
her knees buckle
she cries out
and holds onto me so tight even an angel of fire could not take me from her
I imagine their fall, made her earth tremble.
isn’t this the most thorough erasure?
when even the erased don’t remember?


if you drew out my lineage
you’d map out the streets of Jerusalem
find tens of dead ends
where so many of the Abu Dawas family have died to claim this city
as their capital
you don’t know how hard it is to erode an entire city
to make sure none of its children remember its sound
I have retraced every syllable of my family name to find it
to see where our blood sticks
you must’ve thought you were finished with this family,
but we are the people of Jesus, able to come back to life like Sunrise.


I got enough love
to raise every member of my family from the dirt
till your Israel to fertile soil
regrow every demolished home like wild flower


I got enough love to let my aunt to speak again
she will lead the charge home
her sons will march behind her


the rest of the my family will rise up
the earth will quiver as I learn their names
and call them to take what was stolen from us




We are coming




We are coming
Abu Dawas
Father of Lions
will you recognize them?
when we bare our teeth larger than our face allows


will you recognize them?
when we take up residence
in the ashes of your promised land?


will you recognize my family?
when my aunt, can finally,  hold her boys again?

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A Palestinian American from San Diego, California, Khalid Abu Dawas currently studies at New York University in the Global Liberal Studies program. Khalid’s work appears in Vinyl, Apogee, and on Write About Now. Most recently, competing with the NYU slam team, he placed first at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational in Philadelphia.

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