An Empty Vessel

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Remi Kanazi is a poet, a writer, and an organizer. He has been a leading voice in the movement for cultural boycott and leverages his visibility to propel the movement. Most of all – Remi is a delight to work with. In the middle of the war on Gaza last summer, I roped him into a project I began visioning. Not only did he enthusiastically jump on board but he also took part of the lead in the most graceful way. (Our project should be live and in the public universe by the end of this month- keep your eyes open!) Recently, I had the pleasure of reading his forthcoming book of poetry, Before the Next Bomb Drops: Rising Up From Brooklyn to Palestine (Haymarket Books). Though I casually sat down to read it, each verse made me sink deeper into my chair and helped unleash a cascade of relieving tears: in anger, in mourning, and in hope. I provided this blurb for the forthcoming manuscript: “Remi’s verse is a series of indignant letters to the passersby of our historical moment who thought they were minding their own business but who, in fact, are perpetuating the problem with their privileged complicity.” I’m excited for the book to be shared with the world. For now, he has given me permission to share the following piece with Verso Books’s audience.


An Empty Vessel

no more
gruesome images
 nails across faces
   generations collapsing
    on themselves

a father ripping through rubble
       coated in blood
   caved-in rooftops
immersed in the musk of death

no more cries
 crashing inside ears
 like cymbals
   can’t unsee
    can’t stop
    from happening

this is massacre
      Shejaiya is everywhere
this is annihilation
      infants in pieces
this is a war crime
      the beach is bleeding

she wants her husband back
      stop dehumanizing our men
she wants her best friend back
      stop killing our fathers
she wants her baby girl back
      stop robbing our cribs

you incinerated classrooms
      the morgues are overflowing
knew it was a shelter
      white flags drenched in flesh
shelled the building again
      children stuffed in ice cream freezers
knew what you were doing
      the earth is still swallowing us

you are not the victim
  not the narrator
    don’t get to tell us
    how to process our pain

you are swindlers, terrorists
fascists fiending for our limbs
  read the reports
  become sick with yourself
    you are everything
    you levied against us


should be ashamed
  Goliath on mass graves
yet you remain
  an empty vessel
striding through a sea
of blood you spilled

cooking in the kitchen
sfiha in the oven
      greens laid out
      on the counter
        artillery shelled
      mangled body parts
    scattered limbs
  and severed head
couldn’t identify
what remained
  wedding finger
      still intact
child wailing
in the next room
  #Gaza