i come from the land where fruit on the tree is picked, not left to rot on trees; land of plenty where nothing goes to waste. an ex-general aide said on video: {______} would bring armageddon to {_______}—when it is liberation that will be the graveyard of both. in palestine, every morning brings a new kind of mourning; every day new death(s). reality is not a simulation: they* want you to believe what they want you to believe—why not believe yourself? a fellow colonized subject still playing assimilation (deadly drag) once told me “pressure doesn’t work” [against authority] and that {______} is in some people’s hearts; as if i don’t know my enemies. it is a privilege to detach from reality; many a survival depends upon heightened awareness, constant vigilance and perpetual stress. you missed the mark honey. everyone wants to be saved or save someone else—why won’t you save yourself?

*the lizard people.



i come from the land where habib/ti/i is said to strangers, where strangers become lovers in a matter of minutes. look at my people, beautiful magicians making do with very little! you deserve the world. look at us! how we make each other home. learning happens in safe spaces, and when you make mistakes and ask questions and listen and watch and observe. life is beautiful and humans make it hard for everyone starting with themselves. hence, my abrupt absences. i wish i could learn to say goodbye. baba always left in the middle of the night—but i won’t blame him—my mistakes are mine. bye-bye socialization!

my favorite people in this life are naked and wild and free!!! i want you naked! i want you wild! i want you free! i want us to live! i want us to grow in love! i want to gather all my people together to get there! but first, i need to save my soul! i must learn to open up! and show up more fully—i will become one again once i’m done with this song. i will write a psalm and ditch the manifestos. i will become the revolution, always returning to myself, and all my lovers in one room, and then a massive orgy; some will play, others watch, some listen, others shriek, someone is simply indifferent. wait! i’m still trapped in the land of swimming pools in the desert. somehow this gets called sustainable. life under capitalism is a game of telephone. a simulation some say, ’cause you’re forced to live either on screens or in your head—and neither convey object permanence; both are escapism—do either really matter? i go there for my news, some truth and stories, words from friends and lovers, empty glares from ghosts and foes and frenemies who get scared of my shine; please. i want to die peacefully in my sleep—not at a checkpoint. it can happen here too, you know. quite easily actually. i want to be buried under a tree. every corner of southern california reminds me of greater falasteen.



i want to love my people the way they want to be loved. i want deeper, more accomplice-like connections; the kind that gets you guilty by association. i wonder if i’m capable of committing to violence the way the {_____} is every day. the times will inevitably change, it’s only a matter of time before emperor shrivels, drops the u from sa––if you’ve got a grip on reality, you too already know this. sometimes i wonder if i only came here to witness the crumble of the apple pie empire. the most {________} thing about this place is that euphemisms are a substitute for communication.

i yearn to waste time, for more child’s play, more time spent loitering, more time doing nothing. i yearn for the end of the worst pandemic yet, knowing as long as global capitalism exists, there will be more, which will be far worse, and fear the worst: a pandemic within a pandemic. but what i really yearn for is the demise of empire and white supremacy, no population ravished, the world entact—like, europeans literally disfiguring earth as we know it, even sometimes with brown hands who obeyed. if you have no choices, make new possibilities. wait, what was that you said? no, i will leave when i’m done with my mission, or simply when i want to, when i get too afraid. what is there to know? those who don’t are happy, but my kind of happiness is the one that comes despite the knowing, the kind that arrives often after a cruel heart break. i suffer in silence until i’m ready to speak. you hurt like a friend’s silence when one is in the midst of violence. we will taste the bitter we deliver to others, some day, some way. what makes me happiest is the absence of misery for everyone, cause the older i get the more i feel everyone else with me, must be all the people i’ve been carrying—i am all the people. all the people will be free, all the people will get free despite all corporal attempts at co-opting and neutralizing resistance. a few questions here:

how do we make power yield to ours?

how would we find out who among us is carrying water for empire?

how will we till a brittle soil?

how could we meld walls into concrete for homes and neighborhoods? 



wish i could go back whence i came so i could begin but before we begin let’s get a few things out of the way: palestine is not only the west bank and gaza, {______}’s top historian wrote a bestseller about nations being fictional; well then why don’t you start with your own? i mean dismantle the fiction. there is nothing benevolent about occupation or military colonialism of any type,,,all of it is self serving from the pov of their founders, even those on the ground fighting their wars would be discarded once their purpose complete, a few of us might get included but to get in you gotta sell/lose yourself. the price will always be expensive to you yet cheap to them.

being leftist in {_______} means calling 90% of the people you meet fascist, while forgetting yourself. if a person feels alone then they must be paving a new pathway. if a person is alone then they must tend to self reflection or self accounting or a reset—wallow in your regret until you distill the lesson—dry your leaves in the sun, keep your seeds in dark corners, until ready to sow. are we ever alone though? habibi tells me “words are like bullets”. one day, i will punch a fascist in the guts—or write a piece that feels like it; stir them up. if {_________} wish to decolonize themselves, then they must leave their jobs (occupations), train and hand over to someone below them on the food chain if they have the means. then you must listen to, befriend, truly love the racialized, fetishized and demonized—work to learn, unlearn and learn again, and then educate for free. attain and sharpen self awareness, read the perspectives of others. tell the truth, tell the evil you see after you’ve learned to see. advocate for the colonized, which is an advance on atonement in the new world; which contrary to this one, isn’t punitive.



here’s how to know if someone is meant for you, when you first meet they remind you of someone else, they must be kindred, a soul you’ve met in a past life, or floating in a deep sleep—this too is a kind of revolution. sometimes i settle for doing the bare minimum or less just so i can rest, sometimes i do nothing to calm my mind, sometimes i do everything to put my heart at ease, i wonder how effective any of this is. fight clean, move with love and you’ll never lose. fuck my self-denial.

what is the shadow of the poem? what is in it for my enemies? i touch myself and realize i still have a body and therefore i am not invincible. i am writing this on dead trees, capitalism burns rest and forests; such is life some might suspect. i want you to open up and see the apocalypse never ended—just like all our nakbas. divest! refuse! reclaim your palestine! why do you need {______} to exist to be happy? forgo all you have attained and you shall be rewarded with far more. listen to what cloaks itself in silence. i wish to disappear sometimes, and sometimes i just want to be seen or felt or heard or understood—or all at once. my biggest mistake always involves other people. the enemy is finite money and commodity—at its most beautiful, labor is delightful and rewarding, when not exploited, when it’s aligned with the spiritual needs of the self and the material needs of the other. these days, there’s a pill for everything except for hypocrisy. in the future, this will no longer be a problem. yes i felt you before i met you, might even say i felt you into my life. if blackness = indigeneity = palestinianness = queerness then a return to blackness is a return to palestine and vice versa. some days i am muffled with dread and others i love the life i am living, grateful to be alive, it is like a dream.

one day, i will be courageous enough to put all my shadow selves on blast. the internet can be beautiful—i’ve seen it bring out the worst and best in us, but it can be reactionary and absorbing, enabling groupthink and narcissistic tendencies at the same time. know the limitations of your tools; run them before they run you. we each carry masculine and feminine within—knowing this is a form of divinity. some are waiting for others in their lives to wise up, grow up, and live up to their actions, promises and commitments. we need each and every one of us in this. who are you bringing with you to the rooms you visit or inhabit? what are you hiding in your closet? i need to find healthier ways to carry my shadow. need better memory of my dreams—manifest butterflies in the wind, spiders in corners turn dread to dreams, manifest harmony within and without. home is my sanctuary, my body, where my memory lives.

sometimes when i work outside under the desert sun, my neck and torso and pits, head work up a sweat, and then tears are running down my nipples, which are eyes if my torso were a face, then the tears gather in my navel, which is an open mouth; water basin down my thighs, scrotum flooded. help! i’m falling apart again—there are levels. a quiet riot to make pirates acquiesce to collective will, a checkmate against your deathly checkpoint. they occupy our land, we occupy their anxious apocalyptic minds; their worst fears, darkest fantasies, their guilty conscience. i forgot how to get things done. all i do is talk all day. for every time i carried a vicious cycle forward, i am sorry and i am keeping count. new transgressions pop daily, i change daily. what’s vicious is vacant. gravity catches up with us all even if there’s no such thing as justice on earth, when my mistakes begin i retreat. what’s a youth bulge but a way to say “stop making babies?” what’s a brain drain but a way to say “refugees of war, of weapons of mass destruction”. never again will i dull my sensitivities—at dusk, the bats come out, at dawn: the hummingbirds, the swallows, the crows, the pigeons, the turtle doves and the roadrunners; lizards scurry and scramble for a place to hide.



feras hilal is a queer Palestinian writer/performer living on Cahuilla land. They were a Los Angeles Review of Books fellow in 2018, and a Radius of Arab-American Writers fellow in 2019. This is their first published work.

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