MIXTAPE: ON WHAT WAR LOOKS LIKE TO A CHILD BORN FREE, IN A WAR ZONE, WITH GENERATIONAL TRAUMA


we ran/ because that is our trade/ the only thing we’ve been doing for decades/ salvation/ is so far from god/ and so close to the united states/ until ‘dubya’ sets the trial/ will be jury/ and judge/ try the whole cause/ and condemn us to death/ until i ask: who am i?/ who do i love?/ who will
speak for me/ ya amreekia/ bint alfatat fil khalas/ born into freedom/ until i can hear octavio paiz/ speak of the city/ the metropolis/ that dreams us all/ that all of us build/ rebuild/ and unbuild/ and rebuild/as we build/ we ran/ because that is our trade/ the only thing we’ve been doing for decades/ my child wants to know if the mountains really cowered/ how do you know if a sea/ or a river/ is afraid/ when their currents run red/ their streams carry limbs/ eye sockets/ and the river bed/ breaks down organ/ into fish food/ uncle fawzi said/ i was not to become a martyr/ i was too
smart/ and the homeland/ needed me alive/ until westerners begin to make sense to me/ my mind molded/ by their sweet words/ what is land/ but a canvas/ to swing a dick around in/ i’m a net/ teeming with pervy fingers/ we ran/ because that is our trade/ the only thing we’ve been doing for decades/ reaching for anything that will bite back/ any promise of stoppage/ where community
sits/ and continues/ where it pushes and pulls/ like taffy/ until i lay on baghdadi sand/ without the fear of death/ until i am both woman holding the camera/ and woman being opened by it/ until mercy has lost its nobility/ now a prerequisite for causing harm/ until keystone tanks/ disguised
in army green/ are called back from the front lines/ until anti-terrorism/ doesn’t come with a shell e-receipt/ we ran/ because that is our trade/ the only thing we’ve been doing for decades 

Tamara Al-Qaisi-Coleman (she/her) is a bi-racial Muslim writer, historian, poet, and artist. Her first book of poetry “The Raven, The Bayou, & The Willow '' is forthcoming through FlowerSong Press Spring 2022. She is a Brooklyn Poets Fellow, a Rad(ical) Poetry Fellow, and a poet for the Houston Grand Opera & MFAH’s event “The Art of Intimacy.” Her work can be found in (Art) WORDPEACE and Mixed Magazine, (Fiction) Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, (Poetry) Boundless 2021: The Anthology of the Rio Grande River Valley International Poetry Festival, and others.

Composition by Daniel Liu.