-in memory of Libya’s Rajab Abuhweish, whose oral poem of resistance “My Only Illness” spread across El Agheila prison like wildfire


In the midst of hopelessness you find faith

and clutch it between your broken teeth.


How long does it take to commit thirty

stanzas to memory? And how many people


does it take to build a revolution?

A poem for an entire people


etched in the blacks of your eyes, a vision

from God, words that flow like rivers


of lament. Still you long for the sweetest place,

awaiting your red horse to carry you


home, away from El Agheila, via

Litoranea, to a place reduced


to black ash, a well full of concrete, your

cry and song your only belongings now.


But war has taught you this–


Your words have the power to spread like wild-

fire. Your voice will ripple like a torn flag,


tremble with the flame of anger in your

throat, a heart unassailable and


unmovable. Your voice a promise

of something much more certain than life.


Soon a storm will rage in your lungs, roses

blossoming from the scars upon your tongue.


A reminder that there is no longer

any need to whisper.