KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 3: Spring 2015
Poem: 222 words


by Ruth Awad
Tripoli rooftop. Morning came and the sun was out
and still, nothing. Maybe his Saudi friends heard wrong.
He squinted into the light, its round hive heaving 
in the humid air. The sea lipped its insoluble gossip
to the shoreline. He tilted his cheek seaward, 
the scuffle rippling back to him in radio waves. 

How many hours had the town gone neon 
under his eyelids, had he swayed at the edge 
of the building, its narrow lane laddered 
with clotheslines? He could wait for something 
to stop him or he could take one step into air, 
the scarves like kites sailing up from his hand 

as he dropped through. How easily he could 
be counted among the missing. Neighbors 
and friends herded by Al-Tawhid fighters 
and dumped into the Mediterranean.
Waves rolling over the bodies to wake them.

The wind swung and he swept his foot back. 
If you want to live, then live, he once heard 
someone say, but what did they know? 
The sky was a jar full of loose teeth. A canyon 
ripped wide, echoes calling ledge to ledge: 
Tawhid fire. Syrian answer. 

Tracer bullets like the bright ribcage under night’s dark skin. 
Welts of shellfire. Red trench-light. Through his arms, 
he saw blades of smoke, their messy work—
what his home looked like as fishbone.

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