You have entered the tunnel.
There is a light in the endless tunnel.
Every word you think of
has already been written
by you or others who skim
the spume of their seas.
They love to travel.
They love you more when you’re dead.
You’re more alive to them dead.
Resuscitated, you enter the tunnel
you’ve been walking toward,
marched toward, expelled into,
dug with your spleen,
the graveyard of your blood.
Your mass, excised,
clears your margins.
The passive voice
is your killer’s voice.
From time to time, they vote.
From time to time, language dies.
It is dying now.
Who is alive to speak it?


As boys we played a game
called Fisherman:

You built a pyramid
of empty soda cans

for your foes to knock down
with a tennis ball,
always yellow.

Then gathered into a field as fish.
For the pyramid as for the fishing

the ball was the spear.
If you could cleanly catch it
and fling it far, make your rivals

scramble to reclaim their weapon,
without which they were nothing,

while you rebuilt what you could
of what they destroyed

before the spear reentered the fray.
Oh, the thuds stung and were mean.

One by one we’d fall.

To make the pyramid whole again
meant you were not wiped out.

And your team won.


These poems appear in […], © 2024 by Fady Joudah. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions.

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