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My City After What Happened Some Time Ago

Mosab Abu Toha

The noose is tightening around the city’s neck.

Looters undress the city,

sell its clothes and jewelry to the monsters in the sea.

Trees, bare and heads down, blow their yellow leaves,

try to cover the houses’ private parts:

bathtubs filled with warm water for the new

bride and groom.


In the stall, they sell a photo of my young grandmother.

They didn’t know she began to smoke when she got older.

I wished I had a cigarette with me to put near the frame.

I once tried to light a cigarette and smoke.

I burnt a finger and never tried again.


My grandfather’s cane leans against a dusty wall

near my young father’s school bag.


Two men hurriedly grab the books piled up below the stall,

buy them for the first price the seller announces.

Their hands vomit them into the sea close by.

The words’ eyes turn red with salt,

the maps overdrink,

and water seeps through their bellies.


The city no longer exists but in the holes in the earth.

Nowhere I have to go but to a new, untrodden road

silence of water

Mosab Abu Toha

father’s typing on keyboard

mother’s reading morning newspaper aloud to

cover neighbor’s radio sound

air from cracked window’s sliding on ceiling lamp


losing balance


b/w pictures on walls are searching for colors at night




one big drop pours down on roof

no lightning, no thunder, no clouds

it rains only on this house

dust and concrete stuff

noses of neighborhood




no longer boils

shrapnel has cut its throat

In the War: him and houses

Mosab Abu Toha

You fight. You


You never know who won or lost

or if the war ever ended.

When the bomb fell, the shrapnel cut your body’s clothes—your flesh.

It cut your country’s flag—its landscape.

They didn’t find a place to bury you.

They carried you on their shoulders,

wandered in the neighborhood,

stopped at your childhood’s school

and the old park.

Everything saw you

except for the houses.


Houses have packed their bags.

Dust has erected a tent in the angles.

Rust has landed with its worn-out clothes on the tab

and on the spoon.

It steals from the water its soft slide,

whereas the air sleeps on the spoon’s rough earth.

While you,

you sleep on moving sand.

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