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“Before the Next Bomb Drops”: Three Poems of Liberation and Struggle in Palestine and Beyond

Remi Kanazi’s poetry brings to life the experience of Palestinians living under occupation and in exile, refusing to be erased and struggling for liberation.

Remi Kanazi’s poetry brings to life the experience of Palestinians living under occupation and in exile, refusing to be erased and struggling for liberation. In his new collection, Before the Next Bomb Drops, Kanazi covers topics ranging from police brutality, Islamophobia and institutional racism in the United States to the wars created by US foreign policy. Order your copy of this highly recommended collection of verse by clicking here to make a donation to Truthout!

The following are three poems from Before the Next Bomb Drops.

Until It Isn’t

death becomes exciting
tolls, pictures, videos
tweeting carnage
instagramming collapse
hearts racing to break

24-hour entertainment
every glimpse, splinter
and particle of pain
jammed into torsos
and cheekbones

loved ones
want to sit
for a minute
and cry quietly

no words, no poetry
before Internet and
dialed-up emotions
before black and
white ideologies

before a person
I called friend
defended massacres
before the victims
were laid to rest
before chemical weapons
ravaged insides
before refugee
meant grandmother

suffering 2.0
keyboard clicks
like bombs so effortlessly

all damage collateral
never personal
voyeurs hop on and off
like carnival rides

death becomes
until it isn’t
until boredom sets in
and desensitization begins
until the next ride emerges
somewhere else
more captivating

(Image: Haymarket Books)(Image: Haymarket Books)


building bombed, beams through flesh
buried under rubble
suffocated to death
but only beheading is barbaric to the West


a smashed window always rings louder
in the media’s ears than the clacking
of six rounds emptied into
a Black teen’s body


beat so bad her
insides went silent
Muslim, covered
with blood
love or light found
on this Parisian block


45 degrees
clear to the sky
still would terrorize
soldiers and police aim for the head
chest. kneecaps. ligaments. debilitate. disable
bilin. nabi saleh. oakland. athens. #teargas


first date
dad’s cologne
scenting his skin
heart beating fast
house in the distance
stopped frisked groped

routine checkpoint
blue bruises white cops
protect quotas serve the system
dealers of discrimination in uniform


1000 pound
don’t inquire about
the sexuality
of victims below


repackaged racism and domination
of natives may mask the messenger
but it doesn’t transform the parcel


transphobic feminists misogynistic socialists
anti-Black leftists ableist Palestinian activists
selective justice isn’t a path to liberation

Layover in Palestine


on a balcony in Bethlehem
Abu Iyad spoke slowly
in Arabic
as if a typewriter
were catching every
letter and intonation

his wrinkled fingers
grappled with a coffee cup
contemplative and precise
contours of the Nakba
mapped into the history
of his face

we stood in front of
chopped-down olive trees
a stump-encrusted hillside
stripped of its fertility
barbed wire
choking the periphery

banned from land
by occupation forces
who kicked down
his door and abducted
him and his son


feeling like a tourist
outside my own skin
passing, never present
wanting to touch everything
I came in contact with
in case my palms never
pressed down on
this earth again

every trip like a last goodbye
entry never guaranteed
visa never guaranteed
nothing ever guaranteed

what is the purpose of your visit?
where was your father born?
come with me
put that down
take that off
spread your legs
you understand that
this is for security?

you can go
words I thought
I would never hear again
a kid with peach fuzz
and a grimace
chest puffed
and trigger-finger itchy
what hollowed drones
humans become

got through and felt lucky
got through and felt ashamed
got through and felt ashamed
that I felt lucky
the empire’s passport
burning a hole
in my back pocket

just want to sit and be present
feel what it is like to be home
without someone pulling
on my shoulder
taking me away

Palestine stays
under a microscope
always communal
never ours

it is exhausting
struggle, liberation
a campaign, a Facebook post
an infographic, constantly searching
for the right words to say
the right message to bring
when all I want is to feel
present in this space
take in this breath
and exist here
if only
for a moment

Copyright (2015) of Remi Kanazi. Not to be reproduced without permission of the publisher, Haymarket Books.

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