Over olive and tin (Bilal Hafda)

            I swallow this impatient country like a testament to Adam,
the sun a corrugated pit, apricot rusted on my tongue

we were dead men, spitting onto tin roofs, heads peeking out
calling to visitors with tea and testimony

work was waiting for us a village over, away from our wives filling us
in the surrender of summer storms, stopping just short of a miracle clapping

dry-brick pottery shacks crackling, like an old knee in snowfall
forgetting our grandfather’s hands, in an outback of untruths

we were dead men dreaming puddles
poured into the sieve of a homeland, a bounty on its head

            I swell with ink for the spilling of a nation on this page, we fled
a land closed up, a sunset tributary, the rolling creek

in our front doors, a visitor coming home to find
peace in a broken bowl, there was no knock, only the rumble of rock and jets

we break our fast on the silence

sediment sin                weighing down our holy, stone men come to take
our midden, fish our streams long

over our women and carve them out of our bellies
daughters made strangers to the currents of their father’s hopes

men ravage the lakes they can’t swim in, armies salt the children who refuse
to give up their family’s name, who find refuge in dying flags

war is for always

it remembers slights long enough to stick into muzzles and fire at pilgrims
an empty shed, a hose left running, the house of the Prophet (sws), a home

for all comers calling for brick after brick to stretch its shade onto its neighbours     
       find cover 
it’s not the fault of the Sun that the believers were splashed down their front porches

we were dead men, colouring our skin with ash and bark
hatching the carcasses of gardens,

jasmine dreams over Aleppo, over Abyssinia, over Syria, over Yemen
birthplace of birth, darkener of fruits
                                                               driller of oils
                                drawer of men
crowds gathered
                           to cheer the war machine and horror
at the men’s heads left                        swaying
                        over olive and tin                                   but the tree branches out
into its own applause.


BILAL HAFDA runs creative writing workshops all across NSW. He works with schools and community groups full-time, at the Story Factory, facilitating and designing workshops to assist young writers. He’s also a spoken-word artist. He’s performed at TEDx in Sydney, and has featured at a number of slams, including the Bankstown Poetry Slam, and the Enough Said Poetry Slam in Wollongong.