Rasha Abdulhadi


Rasha Abdulhadi is a queer Palestinian Southerner and the author of Who Is Owed Springtime (Neon Hemlock, 2021) and Shell Houses (The Head & The Hand Press, 2017). Source 

Safe Harbor in Enemy Homes

Even the trees are not blameless here—

they choose sides, shelter conspiracy,

and lend their limbs to massacre


on this green knuckle of mountain

made retreat for writers and fiber artists,

potters, lapidarists, and some of history’s

most famous racists—folks so deeply dyed

it’s not clear anymore what they’ll break for.


And I would be ready sure to steady burn

this sturdy cabin so clean, tendered

to me for shelter, for there is

no place in this good green earth

safe from its own history’s hollowed-out horrors.


Who among us can take a retreat from horrors,

who seeks to beat a hasty one from consequence or scrutiny,


and how do we make any peace

when even our retreats choose sides:

         fostering peace and unity

         recruits starched southerners to sponsor 

         apartheid in some land hallowed

         by war to hasten the end times,

         because in the beginning, this place housed travelers

         merely means meetings

         for the organizers and fundraisers of b’nai b’rith.

         and supporting his brethren 

         funds youth militias to clear houses and empty villages


In this gracious confrontation

under the sweet breath of branches

on land reclaimed by zion from the hands

of a clansman propagandist and a friend of presidents:

         Here we are supplied with a partial archive

         in a refuge built against two reckonings:

         so which lines are pointed enough

         to pierce the open copping to crimes—

         left unlocked on library shelves, 

         framed on the wall, celebrated with a graven plaque?

         Every shelf is dreaming two nations’ glory.

         Every shelf is a recruitment, ahistory,

         every shelf complicity among the ruins.


My words endure in the frayed spine.

Peel back the coversheet and find:

I’m in your retreat, righting where the pages

of the deep south touch palestine.


Have I not come here to find safe harbor

at the point of a knife, daring respite

or the remediation of ill-gotten spoils—

and spoiling for a fight, am I not reminded

no harbor is safe and every port is the point of a nation’s knife.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Racial Injustice

Violence & War

Literary Devices:


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession


an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences

Internal Rhyme

A rhyme involving a word in the middle of a line and another at the end of the line or in the middle of the next.


the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered


correspondence of sound between words or the endings of words, especially when these are used at the ends of lines of poetry