Strangers Inside Me


We all have reasons

for moving

I move

to keep things whole.

                                    -Mark Strand, “Keeping Things Whole”



Outside, the quivers of winter,

a sudden moistness, a slow darkness.

Outside, strangers looking for themselves

in the silent motion of my handwriting.

I stand at the corners of night

hoping that violets will remain purple in winter.


There is a country on my tongue

a small world between my heartbeats.

Strangers inside me that understand

the strangeness of strange things,

that understand they are not strangers

to each other but it seems strange to

others that they belong together, as if

we can refuse ourselves ourselves


Words slide down my throat

like velvet rivers and outside

is a tiny echo calling me

as I travel and move

from one continent to the next,

move, to be whole.



Dalmatian Coast


we speak of weddings

you speak of funerals

we understand each other


who has survived

don’t answer


we tell each other

don’t lean backward

don’t bend forward



Poems by Nathalie Handal


Nathalie Handal is a Palestinian poet, playwright and writer and a well-known cultural and literary activist. Named one of the ten Arab writers of note by the San Francisco Chronicle, her poetry book, The Lives of Rain is forthcoming and she is working on two major theatrical projects. Handal has lived in Europe, the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Middle East. She finished her MFA at Bennington College and her post-graduate degree at the University of London. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines, literary journals and anthologies worldwide, and she has been featured on NPR, KPFK, and PBS Radio. She is the author of numerous plays, of the poetry book, The NeverField, the poetry CD, Traveling Rooms, and the editor of The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology, an Academy of American Poets bestseller and winner of the Pen Oakland/Josephine Miles award. She is Poetry Books Review Editor for Sable (UK) and Associate Artist and Development Executive for the production company, The Kazbah Project. She teaches at Columbia University. (



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