i am writing in vignettes because all we have are fragments

By Hasib Hourani

31 May, 2021

Hasib Hourani is writing in place of Dženana Vucic for Running Dog’s poetry in May 2021.

Each month, our poet in residence produces new work, which is distributed via Running Dog’s monthly newsletter—Stray. If you haven’t already, sign up to our newsletter.

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it rains on eid al fitr 
my family spends four hours 
in my living room without 
the heater on we do not talk 
we scroll and read 
and listen and scroll and sit
and scroll and post
and watch my phone dies 
before dinner

it is always about footage

my friend DMs me 
have u seen that video of Toni Morrison 
where she talks about how 
no matter how bad things got 
she always knew 
that she was morally superior 
to the racists in the world

in 2006 Mr Hyrnczak organised a fundraiser 
for Gaza i was in year eight 
and proud and smug and excited 
that for a few days things were about us

i am writing in vignettes because 
all we have are fragments

on monday
israeli forces fire on 
Palestinians at al Aqsa

on tuesday
i stay home from work

on wednesday we wake up to
israel bombs Gaza

on thursday 
i see a video of israeli cops and lynch mobs 
breaking into a house in haifa
the owners ramming back the door
if a screech had a body 
it would vibrate like that
the camera is shaking
someone has retweeted it 
with this is nakba 
this is what happened 
to my family in 1948 
now we have footage

i am writing in vignettes 
because it is always about footage

i do not know when 
this poem will be published 
but by then these words 
will have fossilised

i do not remember my dreams last night 
just fragments 
that return in whips a ponytail 
a clothes hanger my dad 
red plaid shirt 
the tail of a prawn
chewing and swallowing 

i read fascists among us 
on the tram to the protest 
to remind myself: 
racists do have morals 
they’re just not good ones

last year we went viral
normalisation and in 
annexation and in 
the march of return

it does not matter 
when this poem is published 
these fragments always fossilise 
only to get dug up a year later

it storms the night before the protest 
and the latch 
on my bedroom window 
has not been repaired
i lie on my back and think of the rain 
and wind and hail teaming up to explode
the brittle seams of plastic


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Statement of intent:


on monday my mentor and friend emails me and i reply, “i’m really struggling to see a point in writing what i’m writing, in the long run” “what am i doing this for?” “and who?” “i feel like my efforts would be better spent really investing in organising” “writing feels self indulgent and embarrassing”

on tuesday i send my colleague a message, “the catalysts for organising are also the catalysts for emotional exhaustion” “feels like a paradox”

on wednesday afternoon i send a voicenote to my friend and writer, she is Palestinian, “it feels selfish to put my voice out there when i am lost for words half the time”

and on wednesday evening i DM a good friend, “i am holding my breath thinking wow i am so supported!” “but for how long??” “u know??” “and that is scary, that is actually quite unstable to live within”

on thursday i start writing this poem. it is still thursday, and i am on my bedroom floor with my back against the window, door shut, my parents and sister wait for my younger brother to get here. wait to open our eid presents.

i am an experimental writer, i am too tired to experiment. i don’t want to play with form or make something innovative or interactive i want to be read. i want to be read and listened to and i want the people who read and listen to boycott with us, rally with us, shout with us. i want you to learn how to argue with zionists so we don’t have to be the only ones doing it. i want you to learn how to argue with zionists because i have spent my whole life trying to build safety away from them and so my reach is narrow. 

we organise a second rally the week after the first one. my mum says “two??” and my sister says “and every saturday until we get justice” and she laughs it off.

say the word freedom five times. say it out loud. now write it down. write it down ten times. i don’t know how to demand a free Palestine anymore the words sound like fever dream. i want you to rally with us, shout with us, every saturday until we get justice.


Support Palestinian liberation:

BDS Australia
Grassroots Jerusalem
Qattan Foundation
Al Riwaq


Listen to Hasib read their poem on 3CR Spoken Word.