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Where olive trees grow into book titles by Trae Stewart

rebar frames with no transom,

wall flat, solid, hiding open doors,

thick cement, fractured,

mirroring onlookers,

strong, but cracked.

escaping glimpses,

between graffitied slogans and cartoon characters,

faded by unrelenting sun,

peak, stare at the endless horizon, beyond a mind’s eye.

this edifice, so tall it becomes the clouds,

it bends forward, in perspective,

encroaching more,

with an infinite ladder, one could pick dates,

in paradise’s garden above.

they watch for the curious,

ascending toward paradise,

ground them with rubber and capsaicin,

if compassion is on duty,

otherwise, a greater fate.

amidst mijwiz tones,

prickly shrubs perform dabke,

air colored with sumac,

crimson heaves sneak around corners,

in the old city.

labyrinths of beliefs and shadows,

alleys where tensions dissolve, like halva by tea,

and shopkeepers’ stories stretch longer than bubbling knafeh,

a sweet diversion to an often-salty existence.

piles of rubble,

where children lose their days,

to manifestos of ancestors unbeknownst,

and olive trees grow into book titles,

shaken for centuries, but still bear fruit.

self-sustaining, surviving off the blood of self-sacrifices,

providing shade to shepherds regardless of flock,

rooting deep into contested soil,

so persistent they burrow,

under, into, and beyond the wall,

widening cracks.

youth bear witness,

reasons to build ladders,

along with bridges,

to discover power and strength,

beyond the wall,

future storytellers.

ن َ شَاء ُ ٱللَّٰ

— insha’ Allah


Trae Stewart is an emerging queer poet and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner. He writes poetry to center and ground himself to best help others. His work has appeared in San Antonio Review, New Note Poetry, The Muse, Hive Avenue Literary Journal, among others.

EDITOR'S SONG PAIRING: Odd Beholder — Olive Trees


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