Abd el-Hadi Fights a Superpower

By Taha Muhammad Ali 1931–2011
In his life
he neither wrote nor read.
In his life he
didn’t cut down a single tree,
didn’t slit the throat
of a single calf.
In his life he did not speak
of the New York Times
behind its back,
didn’t raise
his voice to a soul
except in his saying:
“Come in, please,
by God, you can’t refuse.”
 
               —
 
Nevertheless—
his case is hopeless,
his situation
desperate.
His God-given rights are a grain of salt
tossed into the sea.
 
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury:
about his enemies
my client knows not a thing.
And I can assure you,
were he to encounter
the entire crew
of the aircraft carrier Enterprise,
he’d serve them eggs
sunny-side up,
and labneh
fresh from the bag.

Taha Muhammah Ali, “Abd el-Hadi Fights a Superpower” from So What. Copyright © 2006 by Taha Muhammah Ali. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Source: So What (Copper Canyon Press, 2006)

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Poet Taha Muhammad Ali 1931–2011

POET’S REGION Middle East

Subjects Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Crime & Punishment

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Palestinian poet and short story writer Taha Muhammad Ali grew up in Saffuriya, Galilee. During the Arab-Israeli war in 1948, he moved with his family to Lebanon for a year; since then he has lived in Nazareth, where he owns a souvenir shop. Self-taught through his readings of classical Arabic literature, American fiction, and English poetry, Ali started writing poems in the 1970s. His collections in English include Never Mind: . . .

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Poems by Taha Muhammad Ali

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Crime & Punishment

POET’S REGION Middle East

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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