Four Poems from Mosab Abu Toha

14 July, 2021



Mosab Abu Toha


Memories Are Flowers

Memories are Flowers—
We water them,
narrate them,
turn them into poems
into plays,
into stories.

We decorate them with
light bulbs,
with metaphors
of different hues,
in variant clubs.

Some memories are nasty.
They have rank smells,
and coarse, prickly skin.

No matter how deeply
inhumed the bones,
the worm of sweet memories
shall find their way.



bombing of gaza may 2021 - 2 - photo mosab abu toha.jpg



A father wakes up at night, sees
the random colors on the walls
drawn by his four year old son.
But he’s dead after an airstrike.

The colors are about 4 feet high.
Next year, they would be 5 or 6.
But the painter is dead and the
museum has no new
paintings to show.


A Poet and Librarian Catalogs Life in Gaza: Mosab Abu Toha


A Rose Shoulders Up

Don’t ever be surprised
to see a rose shoulder up
among the ruins of the house:
This is how we survived.


Memorize Your Dream

Close your eyes
walk on the ocean.

Dabble your hands
in the water
catch your poem’s words.

Write the words up on
the clouds.
Don’t worry, they will find
their land.

Open your eyes.
In the night,
the sea is no longer blue.

Look around and from
the descending
pick your punctuation marks.

Put on your swimsuit,
dive deep down
and look for a title
for your epic.

Embark on your
moving homeland—
your boat.

Go to your bed
and, in your sleep,
begin to memorize
your dream.


Mosab Abu Toha is a Palestinian poet, fiction writer, and essayist from Gaza. He is the founder of the Edward Said Public Library, and in 2019-2020 was a visiting poet and scholar at Harvard University. He has given talks and poetry readings at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, the University of Arizona (w/ Noam Chomsky), and the 2020 American Library Association conference. His work has appeared in Poetry, The Nation, Solstice, Arrowsmith, Progressive Librarian Guild, among others. Mosab is the author of Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear: Poems from Gaza, forthcoming from City Lights Books in April 2022.

Bombing of GazaIsrael/PalestinePalestinian poetry


  1. My heart breaks for you now and all Palestinians. May your family remain safe at this terrible time in Gaza.

  2. From one librarian to another:
    How do we console when we haven’t experienced it? How do we apologize when our government supports those who take your children? No words…
    Just know that there are those of us who are aware of your humanity and cry.

  3. These poems… my heart is breaking. And they’re so beautiful. I will write them on my signs when I protest this weekend.

  4. Persévérez dans l’élan de votre cœur.
    Les écrits sont des armes plus efficaces que les missiles.
    La Palestine a besoin d’hommes comme vous.
    De cœur, je soutiens vos futurs objectifs.
    Mohamed MELHEM.

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