George Abraham

Video Loop : Tel Aviv Airport panic attack

israel: land of creation

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Travel Notice:
         תיירים יכולים לוותר מתביעה לפי
         200 דולר סחורה
         tourists can forego claiming under
         200 USD in merchandise 
         يمكن للسياح التخلي مدعيا تحت
         200 دولار أمريكي في البضائع

*

israeli man points / camera towards / himself, kisses / his wife, subtle / smile at sunset 

*

woman in white
-face, opera house
vignette - strips skirt;
flesh, bare white against
spotlight’s glare, 
seeking sunlight - 

*

Travel Advisory:

         the following are prohibited:
         weapons/ عملاء كيميائيين/
         المواد الإباحية / الكحول
         العطور أكثر من 3 أوقية

*

israel: land
of creation


*

violinist touches string
as he might a lover - 
soft vibratto, wrist
a delicate symphony - 
a woman’s soft lips 
against clarinet          [zoom out]
         full concert hall - 
         glaring spotlight -

(couple making aaliyah / cuts in front of / teleprompter - child / in hand, 3 children / in their shadow)

*

it’s been an hour // since they took Z // at security - he was //  the only dark-skinned muslim // in our group // my cross hangs heavy // around my throat // & name // & bloodline

Travel Advisory: 
beware of prohibited materials 
beware of أسلحة
tourists can forego (themselves

*

israel: 
land 
of creation 


*

[Tel Aviv 
shoreline] - sunset,
a bearded man kicks 
soccer ball - same Israeli
couple interlocks lips
& countries - spoils of 
conquest (90 minutes // Z 
Isn’t back
) knife caresses
wine glass 
full of another
savior’s 
blood,    again - 

*

the couple is gone. 
the airport, empty
aside from our 
collective pulse – 
i re-activate facebook
turn on my phone 
& relay the good news – 

         i’m home 
         ( no word from Z )

         i’m finally 

         Home -


The following poem concerns a character, Elizabeth, from the video game Bioshock: Infinite. She has the power to form holes in the space-time continuum and travel between parallel universes.  The game begins in the reality where Elizabeth is confined in a dark tower which drains her powers, and is guarded by a metallic beast, the Songbird, in order to be studied as specimen and later brainwashed by their society’s dictator. In all realities, we arrive at Elizabeth by traveling through a lighthouse.

Infinite: a history of parallel bodies

I. portrait of specimen in dark universe

in the beginning, there was
the body. a you, finite enough 
to reside, compact, in the confines 
of space & time –
                  but before there was
a you, there was the empty. that resides strong
in the body. a longing. a definition - can the body
exist without the Loneliness it counters 
                  & inhabits – 

yes – the Loneliness grew strong within 
you. made a world of you, dark 
& vast as the beast that guards it; 
became a copper-lunged thing;
a throat that sings without breathing,
strips the music from your little
bones; winged beast of metallic 
claw & its anthem of shredding wire:
all the delicate machinery built
to contain you – 

but in this reality, you are tame 
& young. small. hollow
-boned, yet shatterproof in all
your body’s oblivious histories. 

you cannot know the way you split galaxies 
with a single breath; the universes
your hands can unlock in a single strike –
your history, a petty matchbox; a thing that ignites
with friction & hands, always the hands;

you are oblivious of the scientists 
behind the screens, who claim
they built you; observing the specimen 
of you - who built a tower in you, 
the Lonely that makes you retreat
into yourself; who wrote the books
you could never find yourself in; books
that claim they saved you & built all
the delicate machinery & winged
beasts that strip you of flight & sweet
entropy; 
                  wingless child – 

the body is an infinity 
you have yet to unravel – 


II. portrait of specimen as apocalypse

what you know of          history is a conjuring                 of endless winter; in this
reality, a decade             of torture, cast upon your          body makes you body 
of bloodied riot,             memory                                        jaded 

          collapsing under the dust
          of you - of men & their science
          who built a dictator                            in you & the universe, you
                                                                       inherited - who 
                                                                       made Atlas of you – 

                                        placed the weight of their
                                        universe on your shoulders
                                        & begged a genesis of you - 

in this reality, you are a god 
in some sense. Galaxies,
                                                                       collapsing under the rage
                                                                       of you, a drunk architecture 
of limbs, horizons swept 
into a singularity & all the stars 
                                                                       on your breath; behold the weapon 
                                                                       they made of your infinity - 
                    in the wrong hands, 
                    you are body of endless

                    rapture; the beautiful 
                    devastation of endless

                    histories repeating them
                    -selves, of endless

                    fruition, a lineage 
                    of hands, of endless

                    wreckage, of 
                    body     endless -

                            of endless

                            of endless


                            of endless


                            of endless


III. portrait of specimen as lighthouse, in spacetime continuum
or the ghost of my cis gender haunts the genderfluid topology of my body

Instructions: cut and paste this poem onto a knotted 3-dimensional realization of a projective plane - a topological space that cannot exist, without knotting in on itself at a single point, in dimensions lower than 4. The “you” is to be placed at the point of singularity; the paths stemming from the “you” merely conform to the
topology of the space. This poem is a trajectory
from the self, back to the self. 


a lighthouse: there is always: a lighthouse: there is always:
a man: a lighthouse: searching: there is always:  hands
searching: the man: the lighthouse: the blood: on his
searching hands: there is always a man who claims
he built you: with hands: searching: brief light
-houses: there is always the hands: that made: that
searched: that parted: history: there is always a history:
of hands: trapped : between past: and present: hands
that built: a history: of you: there is always: a you: strong
-blooded: heavy-handed: a lighthouse: an infinity of them:
a trace: a lineage: a man: who claims you: and your non
-linear histories: a man: who searches: an infinity: of dim
-ensions: & impossible: bloodlines: for the work: of his own:
hands: a map: there is always: a map: that leads man: to you:
his own: his blood: searching: a map: a lighthouse: there is always: 
a lighthouse: a nail: a door: a man: searching: an infinity: of light
-houses: for you: a map: of history: of men: of him: who built:
an infinity: a bloodline: a you: to conquer: heavy-handed: there is
always: a you: a thing: with blood: and hands: trapped: between two:
impossible: realities: there is always: the man: with an infinity:
of hands: who claims: he built you: always: a you: built: of man:
of hands: this man: these hands: this lighthouse: this search: this want:
this history: these hands: this infinity: in bloodline: searching: reaching: 


IV. portrait of specimen at baptism 

you killed a man today. 
let his blood darken
the waters he found 
himself in; found his
god in; before he birthed
one; yes, the infinity
the history, the dim
-ensions placed on you 
makes you god, child; 
which makes you bloody
-handed, yes, but at his 
expense, you escaped 
the massacre of your
-self; made all the 
necessary wounds to get
here, with your God,
his lungs emptying
beneath the surface 
of his own making; 
Father, isn't this everything
you asked of your greatest
creations? to quiet 
the pulse of every blood
seeking to end you? 
what of the self can exist
after it destroys its maker?
isn’t this the most graceless
suicide; to escape not only
the body, but the history
it was born into - 


V. litany for specimen as Songbird

praise the bones hollow enough 
to fit a body in - the expense of wings;

teach me how to fly, despite the weight 
placed onto my human form; 

call hallowed the ones who can bare
this weight of me; cast their names

into an eternal promise to sunrise 
& call them blessed ephemerality, 

holiest impermenance; teach me to find music
in that, for where there is song, there is voice

& where there is voice, there is reason
to wander, to love, to rediscover 

being; teach me how to wear my blood
without wanting to escape it; 

teach me to be a thing that does not snap
between my abuser’s hands; 

teach me to be a thing not hunted
by its own magic;

to unlearn the body & its forsaken 
histories; how it molds itself into godless iron

every wound, a battle song, a small rebellion; 
teach me to find praise in that - 

in this testimony of sacrifice; in the restless
homes I built in unforgiving stratospheres; 

teach me how to sing without apologizing 
for the space i take up - 

teach me to find glory in flight, despite every
winter & migration this body inherits; 

how not all resurrections are worth praise & ceremony
but that i still sing is testament to how my voice

& the voices of the lineage & ghosts i carry
still live, loudly; still sing praise to every god 

who failed them, reminding them of this lineage
of the bold blooded; how we tear down entire universes 

in a single breath & apologize for none of it, 
in spite of every apology we write our bodies into;

despite everything that claims us weapon, 
or terrorist, or specimen; despite every wall,

every scalpel, every blade that clipped us of flight, 
         we sing –
                                             we rise – 
                                                                                 we fly 
                                                                                                            Home – 

 

George Abraham

George Abraham is a Palestinian-American Poet, Activist, and Engineering PhD Candidate at Harvard University. He is the author of two chapbooks: al youm, winner of the Atlas Review's 2016 chapbook contest, and the specimen's apology, forthcoming with Sibling Rivalry Press. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Vinyl, Apogee, Kweli, Hawai’i Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and anthologies such as Bettering American Poetry 2016, Nepantla, and the Ghassan Kanafani Palestinian Literature Anthology.

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