Weekly poem on Trump Presidency


Mandatory Palestine


It is 1920 at San Remo and the boundaries of the mandated territories are not precisely defined

It is 2018 and I am streaming videos of the border and the tear gas and the tears and the blood

It is 1996 and I am holding hands with a boy in the golden sunset the desert air blooming

It is 1986 and my class and I are wearing blue and white in Manhattan at the Israeli Day Parade

It is 1976 and my parents are strolling in the West Bank and an Arab boy is throwing rocks

It is 1948 and 400 Arab villages are under attack and are forced to evacuate, never to return
to their green olive grove

It is 1917 in the Ottoman Empire and the Turks are about to lose Palestine to the British Mandate

It is 2018 and a string of Palestinian protesters, hands held tight, shout and push at the gate

It is 1996 and we are outside the hostel in Jerusalem because a boy left his backpack in a bathroom stall

It is 1991 and Saddam launches scud missiles into Tel Aviv where my cousins pull on gas masks

It is 1976 and my parents could walk the mosaic tiles of the mosque at the hilltop holding hands

It is 1947, on the world map within the tiny arrow of Palestine a spec of white where the UN proposes to hold Jerusalem as trustee

It is 1920 and a small boy and his sister have left the orphanage in Jerusalem in a ship bound for New York

It is 2018 and I watch the live feed of a Palestinian baby bleeding in her father’s lap

It is 1996 and we gather at Rabin’s stone, heads down, placing pebbles on his grave, crying who would shoot him

It is 1973 and the Yom Kippur War closed round like a noose, Egyptians crossing the Suez Canal,
Syrians rushing down from the top of the Golan Heights

It is 1948 and my grandmother is pregnant with her third baby boy, another New York Jew, her Moisheleh, my dad

It is 1918 and only a fraction of the orphans in Jerusalem find shelter, my grandpa Sam among them

It is 2018 and at least sixty people are dead at the border, hundreds more fist-sized holes at the exit

It is 1996 and

It is 1973 and

It is 1948 and

It is 1922 and

It is 2018


Josette Akresh-Gonzales lives in the Boston area with her husband and children and is a production editor at NEJM Group. Her work has been published in numerous journals, including JUXTAPROSE and PANK. She co-founded the journal Clarion and served as its editor for two years. Follow her on Twitter @vivakresh.



illustration:  anna_croc01

illustration: anna_croc01