self-portrait with second degree sunburn
& again, god damns him for existing / for bathing in sunlight / so freely He had to resurrect a white human / in him so his skin retreats, escapes itself – diaspora / of white ghosts fleeing the brown boy they made / a haunting of until he too was a burning home & now / every time he brushes his shoulder, he sheds an entire / continent from his back; Palestinian boy loses another / home & a white island grows back in its place / how whiteness loved the arab so much it claimed him / as its own, labelled his body middle eastern / even though he has never been east of anything / that hasn’t wanted to swallow him / whole or claim him / as self / conquered / as if skin wasn’t the only organ / large enough to swallow a body / whole on days he wants to shed / himself of this diseased settlement, unlearn / the arabic his tamed tongue could never / swallow, breathe fire before he / becomes it & amidst the ash of his own / cremation, emerge as the scalding / brown almost-human daring / to occupy his colonizer
George Abraham is a Palestinian-American poet, activist, and Engineering PhD Candidate at Harvard University. He is a Pushcart and Best New Poets nominee, and a recipient of the Lois Morrell Poetry Prize, as well as the Favianna Rodriguez Award for Artistic Activism. His chapbook al youm: for yesterday & her inherited traumas was a winner of the Atlas Review’s 2016 chapbook contest. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Diode, Apogee, Kweli, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Winter Tangerine, and the Ghassan Kanafani Palestinian Literature Anthology. He hopes to continue bringing awareness to Palestinian human rights/socio-economic struggles through art.