Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Running Orders

In July 2014, before the Israeli military would fire at a structure in
Gaza, they would send a warning “bomb” to let the Palestinian residents
know they had less than a moment before the next bigger bomb. They
called this “roof knocking”

They call us now.
before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings
and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic
“This is David.”
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass
shattering symphonies
still smashing around in my head
I think “Do I know any Davids in Gaza?”
They call us not to say
Run.
You have 58 seconds from the end of this
Message.
Your house is next.
They think of it as some kind of
war time courtesy.
It doesn’t matter that
There is nowhere to run to.
It means nothing that the borders areclosed
and your papers are worthless
and mark you only for a life sentence
in this prison by the sea
and the alleyways are narrow
and there are more human lives
packed one against the other
more than any other place on earth.
Just run.
We aren’t trying to kill you.
It doesn’t matter that
you can’t call us back to tell us
the people we claim to want aren’t inyour
house
that there’s no one here
except you and your children
who were cheering for Argentina
sharing the last loaf of bread for thisweek
counting candles left in case the powergoes
out.
It doesn’t matter that you have children.
You live in the wrong place.
and now is your chance to run
to nowhere.
It doesn’t matter
that 58 seconds isn’t long enough
to find your wedding album
or your son’s favorite blanket
or your daughter’s almost completedcollege application.
or your shoes
or to gather everyone in the house.
It doesn’t matter what you had planned.
It doesn’t matter who you are.
Prove you’re human.
Prove you stand on two legs.
Run.

— by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

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