George Abraham

The Olive Tree Speaks of Deforestation to my body


Tell me my body is a thing you pulled from a lake;

or my body is the lake itself –

All vast darkness,

the type of empty only an unmourned grave can swallow;

tell me you too have tasted the ghosts

whispering in the Mediterranean sea-breeze for centuries,

& how that makes home a rootless thing;


Tell me my body is the regrowth after the deforestation,

or a funeral organ – tell me i know how to regurgitate a haunted being

While still having the will to sing;


Tell me you dream about my body sometimes,

When your ancestors ghosts steal your pulse at night

& your throat becomes a reaper’s scythe;

& in this dream, my body is the ocean,

Your ancestors are the wind turning every

seashell into the saddest melody;

Your teta is the

receding shoreline.

The moon’s gravity is the cancer that stole her

before the IDF could;

Child, to be brown is to be a body that can survive tessellation

In more ways than one;


Tell me my body is guerilla warfare;

Tell me i am no man’s land;

Tell me these white people don’t make an israeli-Palestinian conflict of my throat;

They keep calling me a ticking timebomb-

say I was born unto a soil that loved me so much,

it swallowed my roots whole;

I’ve seen my own kin beheaded before my eyes,

& I still have the strength to oil my murderer’s

hands before setting them ablaze;


Tell me I am a premature burial;

Tell me existing feels like being buried alive sometimes;

& it’s okay to feel that way;

Tell me it’s okay to be the anchor that stopped the ship in its tracks;

The flood before the storm that begat Zion’s fury;

Tell me it’s okay to speak death in a room of smiling whites,

i gave them oxygen –

who’s to say i can’t strip the air back from their greedy lungs?

Tell me it’s okay to sing

Even when my leaves are the only living thing to

tame the wind around me/

Even when my entire body is submerged in salt & fury

Tell me it’s okay to grow

To rise

To blossom

To be the Eden before man dared enter my gates;

Tell me my body begat the branch that led Noah to freedom;

or that my roots are the anchors that did not surrender to the flood;

Tell me my body is freedom/

the most stubborn resilience.

Tell me I have survived too many earthquakes

& fracturing handprints to surrender like this –

with the whole world watching;

with the whole Mashriq on my back;

while i can see



a distant speck in the horizon –


swaying in the breeze –




haikus on love & resistance

or an exam on Abstract Algebra definitions



we were parallel structures

winding till daybreak.



i mapped the way his laughter

preserved me, airless.


injective: her eye-

lashes kissing; a one-to

one mapping: starless.


permutations: at

night, i rock in my sleep, or

Iraq in my sleep?


surjective: image

beneath my eyelids, whose breath life

will you steal this time?



too infinitesimal

for deformation


odd permutation:

when i rock in my sleep, so

do the Gazan streets

even permutation:

zion alternates the

Arab out of me.

even permutation:

rapist alternates the

queer boy out of me.



too infinitesimal

for deformation

intersection: a

precipice; all i thought i

was,     crumbled to dust.


symmetry: the best

way to know your lover is

to taste their trauma.



someday, i’ll love george abraham

After Ocean Vuong / Roger Reeves / Frank O’Hara


it’s okay to love            first the body

before the man beneath its skin,

before that man is beneath you

& under your skin

in all the wrong ways.


it’s okay to let his body distract you,

to dive into him

like the wind you once begged to dissolve into;

No one’s ever called you body of christ,

this isn’t to say you don’t know what it means to be

split & fed into strange mouths;

a body can only be

broken so many times before it stops healing itself.


Did you forget you have your ancestors limbs?

all diamond cut, & steel glory

all forgery & shimmering resurrection;

all sprouting wings & invisible gravity,

to exist without matter for so long means

even your chromosomes have forgotten their weight;


You’ve danced with oblivion so many times,

if anything else He will remember your name,

praise your non-being, and the way you refused

to take up space                      so graciously;

have you ever seen a phoenix burn itself down because it knows it will rise again?

your history may be written in ash and rubble,

this does not mean you should be the one to set yourself ablaze first;

not Today;

you will love yourself                          Today

Oblivion ain’t got shit on you              Today;

your body isn’t a temple –

your body is the heaven the temples bow to;


shout your name in enough tongues to make God tremble;

damn the way you flirt with earthquakes,

call it shaken rhetoric;

drown the 30 percent of your body that isn’t holy –

Flashflood of a boy –

Mama didn’t birth the ocean just for you to

drown in a river shallower than you are;

tell the tectonic plates they ain’t got shit

on your spine disks;

tell the Hellfire it ain’t got shit on the

friction your bones carry;



tell the Loneliness, he’s fucking beautiful –

invite him into you,                 re-learn your

body’s fragmented                  history together,

& re-write it                            as the victor, for once;


& when loneliness leaves,

let him leave.

without you this time,

like the passing of ghosts or seasons;

something with weight once.

an old friend,

a once familiar roommate,

a long-lost lover;

sing him an erasure of

the lullabies he would kiss you to sleep with;

let your last kiss fill the holy spaces

he once (failed to) occupy,

as you say,

“Goodbye darkness, my old friend,” or

“Goodbye darkness, almost lover”


or in an alternate world where He actually existed, you would say:


“i once fell in               (love with)      the ghost of you,

called him (event) horizon,

& spun into his orbit like a dying moon,

succumbing to his promise of new sunshine &

the corners of his smile as he spoke of escape velocity

on days when the only way to become stellar was to           eclipse myself,

& that’s the difference between black holes and wormholes –

wormholes eventually lead somewhere (new),

somewhere with a different gravity,

where oxygen doesn’t weigh down on us as much


lover –             no matter

how vast your newborn sunrise,

or how gospel your waking mornings,

i don’t need to disappear                    in you

to transcend this galaxy & its            dark matter

& vast emptiness


i’m saying,

i don’t need to swallow your antimatter

to be the brightest implosion

this universe

has ever witnessed.”


George Abraham is a Palestinian-American slam poet who has run out of fucks to give. He attends Swarthmore College near Philadelphia, where he competed for 3 years in a row in the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational. In 2016, he was an assistant coach and teammate on Swarthmore’s team that placed 2nd out of 68 international collegiate teams. He was also a semifinalist at the National Poetry Slam in 2015, where he represented the Philadelphia Fuze, a finalist (top 5) at the 2014 Louder Than A Bomb University Slam in Chicago, and a competitor in the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam. He hopes to continue bringing awareness to both human rights problems and socio-economic struggles in Palestine through his art.

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *