Rumpus Original Poetry: “Fragments from a Sudden Crescendo”





Fragments from a Sudden Crescendo
For Jerusalem, Palestine


At the Gate of Mercy
they are firing tear gas,
they have pushed us back

to re-envision
landscape with an architecture
of return. We gather
our stones, have
been told to wait,
they have pushed us
back with tear gas stun grenades.

Stadium seating, torpor
of eyes trained on us, dispatches
filed in guileless

verbs. Of Mercy singed
and defiant, we remain,
preparing our breakfast
as they fire tear gas stun grenades live ammunition.

Gates crenelated, sky widening,
sultans stir in their sleep,
offer archways to lift nightmares
from their brows. Museumed graves
intone a call to prayer
for the living. We perform our ablutions
in tear gas
our limbs stun
our hearts grenaded
our wounds live
freedom ammunition.


Photograph of Lena Khalaf Tuffaha by Naseem Tuffaha.

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha is a poet, essayist, and translator. Her first book of poems, Water & Salt, won the 2018 Washington State Book Award. She is the author of two chapbooks, Arab in Newsland, winner of the 2016 Two Sylvias Prize, and Letters from the Interior, finalist for the 2020 Jean Pedrick Award. Her essay “Muhammads in Gaza,” won 2020 Best of the Net. You can learn more about her work at More from this author →