Two Poems by Rasha Abdulhadi

Sing the child insurgent

the young make the best revolutionaries, minds clear
as sapphire, hearts scythed, with diamond-dusted blades
they reap their elders’ retreats.
round faces whose gaze empties everything of intent,
leaving it naked as it is. There is no I meant.
Trust takes patience and they have none. Hesitation comes
from the past mistakes they have yet to make.
Their seeking will not hide you, or help you
out of this, your mess. Oh yes,
I sing the child insurgent who wakes up wanting,
for whom everything is first forbidden until permitted
or given an accomplice to drive the get-a-away.
If everything is placed beyond reach,
the impossible is not so far a leap.
They need wings to reach the smallest desire
and so practice flying, out of necessity.


Cold War Among the Sexes

I mourn the long cold war among the sexes:

how men talk to menfolk of manly things
leaving so much softness unsaid
and wound their hearts on hard expectation
surrender so much to cross that boundary

how the women speak of dark and daily magicks
only to their sisters, mothers, and daughters
fearing the men in their lives, hiding the smell
of blood, children and kitchens, of the ill and dying

how we who make the transit
unchoose sides, catch the scent of something farther away
and follow a pilgrimage past the edge of the fields
where once we wore uniforms and fought those wars.

hajji, we pass with the power
to decide what to show and what to hide
with a scarf, an earring or a spit-shined shoe.
some risk little and lose themselves
some risk everything and lose.
some make a zone of truce, give
medicine and shelter where they can,
however briefly, to those who find the village door,
and the same is true in every war.


Rasha Abdulhadi is a queer Palestinian Southerner disabled by Long Covid. They grew up between Damascus and rural Georgia and cut their teeth organizing on the southsides of Chicago and Atlanta. Rasha’s writing has appeared in Poem-a-Day, Electric Lit, carte blanche, Anathema, Shade Journal, FIYAH, Mizna, ROOM, and Lambda Literary. Their work is anthologized in Mid/South Sonnets, Essential Voices: A COVID-19 AnthologySnaring New Suns, Unfettered Hexes, Halal if You Hear Me, and Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler. A poet, and speculative fiction writer and editor, Rasha is a member of Muslims for Just Futures, the Radius of Arab American Writers, and Alternate ROOTS. Their new chapbook is who is owed springtime. Portrait by JJ Dumont.