There is no stray bullet, sirs.
No bullet like a worried cat
crouching under a bush,
no half-hairless puppy bullet
dodging midnight streets.
The bullet could not be a pecan
plunking the tin roof,
not hardly, no fluff of pollen
on October’s breath,
no humble pebble in the street.
So don’t gentle it, please.
We live among stray thoughts,
tasks abandoned midstream.
Our fickle hearts are fat
with stray devotions, we feel at home
among bits and pieces,
all the wandering ways of words.
But this bullet had no innocence, did not
wish anyone well, you can’t tell us otherwise
by naming it mildly, this bullet was never the friend
of life, should not be granted immunity
by soft saying - friendly fire, straying death-eye
why have we given the wrong weight to what we do?
Mohammed, Mohammed deserves the truth.
this bullet had no secret happy hopes,
it was not singing to itself with eyes closed
under the bridge.
this reflection of subtraction
discounted life pressed to spin
all ready know what cease fire
means shock living stop all thinking
imagine din grinding heads
what de-escalation means
families lowered ground covered
all ready been peace processed
means eat this salt degradation
trapped starving generations
never be civilian enough
genetics as terror cellular
fission of everything light
i am damaged beyond recovery
nights swallowed years tunneled into me
learned hate intimate beauty now foreign
all this a shell a bitch to kick when down
i know this cycle know war is come
i am this pattern flatten cover-up
a bed laid web someone else’s tragedy
history made a maze i feel beastly
chronic survival this not living
have absorbed more than my frame
shook am holding this spark to flame
gaza gaze (mirror)
I’ve been licking bricks and rubbing with my palms to bring the wall down.
Down to just a stone polished by sea, after a thousand years.
When I wrote “The Wall” in 1979, I thought it was about me and the way I walled myself off from others because, for one reason or another, not the least of which was the loss of my father at Anzio in 1944, I saw myself as a victim. Thirty-three years later I have come to realize that “The Wall” has a broader message.
The theatrical wall I build each night serves as a metaphor for all the walls erected to separate us, human being from human being: walls between rich and poor, between opposing cultural, political or religious ideologies and particularly between the oppressor and the oppressed. The Israeli wall in the West Bank is a particularly graphic example. I make reference to that wall every night in my concert, but the injustices faced by Palestinians living under Israel’s brutal occupation and apartheid are not adequately addressed through theater and music alone. They warrant other forms of comment.
‘There,’ points Grandma.
She had a tent that was a home.
She had a goat and a camel.
She had a rake and a fork and a trowel.
She had a machete and a watering can.
She had a grove and two hundred plants.
She had a child and another one and another one.
‘There,’ she insists.
I could not see
Because of the wall.
I could not hear
Because of the noise.
I could not smell
Because of the powder.
But I can always tell,
I am sure of Grandma
Who always was
And is still
And will always be.
She smells like soil.
And smiles like soil.
And blinks like soil
When touched by rain.
She has a house that is a tent
She has a key
And a memory.
She has a hope
And two hundred offspring.
Grandma is here
But lives there.
It really seemed to matter to everybody that other human beings were being treated in that way.
We didn’t just talk about it, we did things, I remember boycotts and marches and demos all being held because we couldn’t bear that people were being treated like that.
A few years ago I watched a documentary about life in Palestine.
There’s a section where a UN dignitary of some kind comes to do a photo opportunity outside a new hospital.
The staff know that it communicates nothing of the real desperation of their position, so they trick her into a side ward on her way out.
She ends up in a room with a child who the doctors explain is in a critical condition because they don’t have the supplies to keep treating him.
She flounders, awkwardly caught in the bleak reality of the room, mouthing platitudes over a dying boy.
The filmmaker asks one of the doctors what they think the stunt will have achieved.
He is suddenly angry, perhaps having just felt at first hand something he knew in the abstract. The indifference of the world.
“She will do nothing,” he says to the filmmaker. Then he looks into the camera and says: “Neither will you”.
I cried at that and promised myself that I would do something. Other than write a few stupid jokes I have not done anything. Neither have you.
“Tahrir, what is your final destination?” Lotayef, who is a poet, responded, “the betterment of mankind.”
How could it not? What kind of power, after all, would deliberately starve even the youngest captives, according to chillingly cynical calorifico-political calculation, as a matter of publicly stated policy?
Palestinian women and girls from the West Bank at the beach in Tel Aviv, after a group of Israeli women snuck them into the country for a daylong excursion. Most of the Palestinian women had never seen the ocean before, because they live in a part of the West Bank that is landlocked. Skittish at first, then wide-eyed with delight, they waded into the Mediterranean, smiling, splashing and then joining hands, getting knocked over by the waves, throwing back their heads and ultimately laughing with joy. Read more here.
So beautiful to know the reason behind their smiles :)
“What we are doing here will not change the situation,” said Hanna Rubinstein, who traveled to Tel Aviv from Haifa to take part. “But it is one more activity to oppose the occupation. One day in the future, people will ask, like they did of the Germans: ‘Did you know?’ And I will be able to say, ‘I knew. And I acted.’ ”
Three thousand letters of hope folded into paper boats to sail to Gaza. Israel sneers, we own this ocean and all the tears cried into it.
Don’t die, soldier, hold the radiophone,
don your helmet, your flak jacket, surround
the village with a trench of crocodiles, starve
it out if need be, eat Mama’s treats, shoot
sharp, keep your rifle clean, take care of the armored
Jeep, the bulldozer, the land, one day it will be
yours, little David, sweetling, don’t die, please.
Keep watch for Goliath the peasant, he’s trying to sell his
pumpkin at a local market, he’s plotting to buy a gift for his grandkid, erase
the evil Haman whose bronchitis you denied treatment, eradicate
the blood of Eva Braun by checking on the veracity of her labor pains, silence her
shriek, that’s how every maternity ward sounds, it’s not easy
having such humane values, be strong, take care, forget
your deeds, forget the forgetting.
That thy days may be long, that the days of thy children may be long, that one day
they shall hear of thy deeds and shall stick fingers in their ears and scream
with fear and thy sons’ and thy daughters’ scream shall never fade.
Be strong, sweet David, live long unto seeing thy children’s eyes,
though their backs hasten to flee from thee, stay in touch with thy comrades-at-arms,
after thy sons deny thee, a covenant of the shunned.
Take care, soldier-boy.
Translator’s Note: 5 Iyar, by the Hebrew calendar, is Israel’s Day of Independence, which Palestinians commemorate by the Gregorian calendar, on May 15, as the Nakba, the Catastrophe. As thousands of Palestinians streamed across Israel’s borders last week, meeting with armed resistance, meeting with injury and death, I remembered a poem by Yitzhak Laor. “Take Care, Soldier” was first published in 2004 in a collection called Ir Ha’Leviyatan (“Leviathan City”). —Joshua Cohen
(via n 1: Take Care, Soldier)