Mosab Abu Toha
Three poems by Mosab Abu Toha from Baniipal 71

Selected poems by Mosab Abu Toha published in Banipal 71 (Summer 2021)

Mosab Abu Toha




When I left, I left my childhood in the drawer

and on the kitchen table. I left my horse toy

in its plastic bag.

I left without looking at the clock.

I forget whether it was noon or evening.


Our horse spent the night alone,

no water, no grains for dinner.

It must have thought we’ve left to cook a meal

for late guests or make a cake

for my sister’s tenth birthday.


I walked with my sister towards our road with no end point.

We sang a birthday song.

The hovering warplanes echoed across the heaven.


My tired parents strolled behind,

my father clutching to his chest

the keys to our house and to the stable.


We arrived at a rescue station.

News of ceaseless strikes roared on the radio.

I hated death, but I hated life, too,

when we had to walk to our prolonged death,

reciting our never-ending ode.





My grandfather was a terrorist—

He tended to his field,

watered the roses in the courtyard,

smoked cigarettes with grandmother

on the yellowish seashore lying

like a prayer rug.


My grandfather was a terrorist—

He picked oranges and lemons,

fished with brothers until noon,

sang a comforting song en route

to the farrier’s with his piebald horse.


My grandfather was a terrorist—

He made a cup of tea with milk,

sat on his verdant land, as soft as silk,

was incensed at the sun as it kept to blink.


My grandfather was a terrorist—

He departed his house for the coming guests,

kept some water on the table, his best,

lest the guests die of thirst after their conquest.


My grandfather was a terrorist—

He walked to the closest safe town,

dark as the sullen sky,

vacant as a deserted tent,

darkling as a starless night.


My grandfather was a terrorist—

My grandfather was a man,

a breadwinner for ten,

whose luxury was to have a tent,

with a blue UN flag set on the rusting pole,

on the beach next to a cemetery.





I want to drown myself in the silence of absence,

to fill my pockets with poems

and throw myself in a lazy river.


A distant voice calls upon me to build a room

from straw and clay,

to raise a black flag in the night,

to play the piano to the crossing owl.


A voice from beneath shakes my desk—

the ink spills on my drowsy pants.

It pummels my fingers and constricts my breath. It asks me

to stop writing heavy poems,

poems that have bombs and corpses,

destroyed houses and shrapnel-covered streets,

lest the words stumble and slip into the bloody potholes.


That voice takes away my voice.

It squeezes my poetry pages, tears them off

on my head. Blood showers my curly hair.

My desk becomes crimson red.

Screams fill the cracks in the walls

and the potholes in the nameless roads.


Published in Banipal 71  (Summer 2021) along with other poems by Mosab Abu Toha

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