‘Echo’ is part of a six-poet series presented alongside NIDANights in the Peril x NIDA Melbourne event collaboration, ‘You Are Not Here’.



My generation
Echoed over eons.
Before gold coins and hydroponics
We are hot sun
And riverbeds made roads
Because it doesn’t rain anymore.

We are the offspring of a yell in the dark
Made by brown-skinned warriors
Standing atop valley peaks.
The vista before them
Is nothing more than a wall to bounce their frustrations.

When they shook their aggressors
Out of their unruly hair,
They stood
In attack positions.
Before them,
A mountain.
The most immovable of foes.
They yelled,
“نحن عرب”
Like hammers in the wind.
Until the ridge rumbled
Until the peak
Came tumbling down.
I was conceived in the rubble.
I live in the valley they dug with their war cries,
A product of their frustrations.

Planted zaytoun in my cheeks,
So I wouldn’t forget the taste of home when my beard grew.
Spoke occupied tongue
Long before I learned to speak Invader.
My ancestors yelled their warnings into my eardrums
So I wouldn’t flinch when the bombs dropped.

This is for balconies in Trablos.
Rooftops in Gaza.
Baghdadi coffee shops.
Abandoned Halabi markets.
City squares bil-Qaahira.
This is for “Freedom” painted blood-red on our horizons.

I can’t unstitch our past.
Or coagulate the present.
I can only live where the wound used to be.

This is for scarred flesh
Touched by sun and struggle
Resisting with spark-strewn memories
And open minds.
Because someone had to fight for the diaspora.

Children’s bellies more full of battle anthems
Than breakfast.
Walk across deserts
And leave behind more war drum
Than footprints.

I can’t unstitch our past.
Or coagulate the present.
But I can perform your recompense
Until my youngest child hears it
Hoping she does the same for hers.

I cry retribution into microphones
Hoping to echo forth a millennium
Of generations
Of men, women and children
That are even half the scholars,
Half the scientists,
Half the warriors my forefathers were.
Armed to the teeth with a pen
Mightier than the blades they carried.
I am yelling
In every poem
Trying to bounce my frustrations
Into an echo
Of a generation.


Abdul Hammoud

Author: Abdul Hammoud

Abdul Hammoud is a spoken word artist based in Melbourne by way of Lebanon, a country that he is still captivated by and connects to. He teaches writing classes and workshops for schools and organizations that are looking to explore new avenues of expression. His art has taken him as close as New Zealand and as far as the United States, as well as to his beloved home country. In 2013, he became founder of The Dirty Thirty online writing platform, an ever-growing group for writers to challenge themselves every April. He is also editor and compiler of The Dirty Thirty Anthology, a collection of poetry from the page he coordinates. Most of his work revolves around current issues including the constant state of war in the Middle East, racial divides, as well as the portrayal of masculinity. He is also an avid purveyor of starting books but not finishing them.

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