My hometown rocks bombs made of paper and steel
It is equal parts pomegranate and salt water
Rummages through ashes of hopes and history
and tourists lined up for a view

My hometown weeps for steady soil and handshakes
Unbroken promises or steel embedded dreams
It is the dream of antiquated generations and
adolescents and, sometimes, even me.

My hometown’s rockets speak Russian
and whiz through Diaspora
It is a fingernail in the much larger
ocean of the universe
But it sticks on my lungs like the
labored breath of its shade
The smoke of Yafo or the
symphony of sirens as the sun sets
on another week

Here, echoes are the only thing we can all agree on
The neutral nature of sound when it drips off tongues

Like the notes spoken when you ask if I’m Jewish
Upon my yes, “It’s pretty fucked up what’s happening in Israel”
Word.

But I am not the Gaza Strip.
Not the walls of women wailing as their houses are leveled
Not the dismantled boy whose healthcare
is on the other side of a checkpoint.

I am more Rachel Corrie than the bulldozer
I am never the bulldozer
Or the soldier whose only Arabic is “stop or I’ll shoot.”
I do not hold a PhD in conflict resolution.

But I do know this
When my eyes roll back for sleep
there is a firework of a Tel Aviv sunset
burned on my resting corneas
Wholeness exists for me only in the
desert of the south
or the Shuk on a bustling Friday

Scents of roasted chick peas and spiced teabags
Real and comfortable
like home

My hometown taught me how to coexist over
Arak in Ashkelon bars
Wake to Shakshuka with Sabras in hotel rooms
And worship stars for peace from bomb shelters
my students used as a library in the Golan

So when I wake up at night, sweaty with nightmare,
It is my hometown anthem pumping in my eardrums
Like the soundtrack of my own funeral
My hometown, I am tethered to you
So please, for my sake,
Could you learn how to behave?

Sarah D. Lawson is a .org girl raised in the suburbs of D.C. She is the co-founder and Slam Master of the Beltway Poetry Slam and sits on the board of mothertongue, DC’s premier women’s spoken word organization. You can find her on stages from Spit Dat to Sparkle, organizing events through her co-op housing in Adams Morgan or attempting to squeeze 27 hours out of every day. She sat on the steering committee for the 2010 Capturing Fire slam in conjunction with the Split this Rock Poetry Festival and was a member of the Jenny McKean Moore Poetry Workshop at The George Washington University.

My Hometown by Sarah D. Lawson (c) Copyright Sarah D. Lawson; printed by permission of the author. Photo courtesy of Sarah D. Lawson.

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