Hårb (Or on Waging War in Spite of God)

Poetry / Tariq Luthun

When piqued, boys be a bone.
Be a tantrum, a cracked tomb

of discipline exorcising itself
into the backs of boys we had
no business putting our fists
inside of. I tried so hard

to find myself in the spines of the men
who wronged me. As told by

my mother: all good is holy, while evil
finds itself in those
              who do not sleep, those
              whom lie

awake learning to write and
heed, and pray; in me, this

wired thing. My father did all he could
to be sure I was birthed with a beating
fist to go with those
              sleepless beasts, my lungs.

              We find—to this day—a book
of versed calligraphy is the prettiest
flesh to make a lamb of. This
is what I will tell my son

when he is beckoned by
the bully in him,
when his scorn loses
sight of its prey. If my son develops a taste

for blood, I will blame it on
the enemies of my father and our ancestors.
One day, he will ask me about the red
in the river

of our name, where it turned.
When he does, I will have
              the same answer I did
when my parents told me to hold
              my tongue and cleanse
              my fistful

heart: I do not know what to throw away
when nothing belongs to me
.

Tariq Luthun is a Palestinian-American writer, community organizer, & strategist from Detroit, MI. He is currently an MFA candidate for poetry in the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Among other things, Luthun is Social Director of Organic Weapon Arts, and a deep-dish pizza evangelist. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Offing, Winter Tangerine Review, and Button Poetry, among other publications and anthologies. He can also best be described as Drake falsetto-rapping Edward Said’s “Orientalism.”