This One Is For The Poets
August 11, 2006
"I heard you in the other room asking your mother, 'Mama, am I a Palestinian?' When she answered 'Yes' a heavy silence fell on the whole house. It was as if something hanging over our heads had fallen, its noise exploding, then - silence.
Afterwards...I heard you crying. I could not move. There was something bigger than my awareness being born in the other room through your bewildered sobbing. It was as if a blessed scalpel was cutting up your chest and putting there the heart that belongs to you...I was unable to move to see what was happening in the other room. I knew, however, that a distant homeland was being born again: hills, olive groves, dead people, torn banners and folded ones, all cutting their way into a future
of flesh and blood and being born in the heart of another child...Do you believe that man grows? No, he is born suddenly - a word, a moment, penetrates his heart to a new throb. One scene can hurl him down from the ceiling of childhood onto the ruggedness of the road."
-Ghassan Kanafani, in a letter he wrote to his son
this email is for the poets....
it is poetry and only poetry that has ever helped me make it through in the darkest hours of my life.
but first two links.....
An incredible video made right here in Bushwick directed by Waleed Zaiter and crew
It is being presented on Electronic Lebanon.
and Patti Smith wrote a song about Qana (you can download it)
- a poem written by my homegirl Suheir Hammad.... last November we were together in beirut. that was the last time i was there.....November....
wind (break) her
fairuz turquoise dawn ears ring
voice diwan detroit divine
smoke full lips fall on back baalbek
museum mezze sabra jordan black
june in jersualem
almonds coffee darwish
the eighties the ground the zeroes
tabla in brooklyn air so thick beat hung there
hips reflected the breath someone was drumming
to accompany the dying and the living
somewhere far and somewhere close
find shelter in a cross
find none at all
people looking to be seen
even if the last moments
even if after life
last fall her birthday
i ask my homegirl what she wants
she leaps to fall in love
i offer earrings and we kiss the beirut
sky color of bruised healing
kiss it born
kiss it ill
kiss it youth
kiss it prison
kiss it collective
kiss it punishment
kiss it viral
kiss it infected
kiss it missing
kiss it childhood
kiss it water
kiss it dignity
kiss it burning
kiss it alone
kiss it so alone
kiss it kiss it
habibi wants the moon
but the moon is far away
a city in exile
bi albe ana nar
curl of flame jeweled arms
flash smile flash flesh perfect cut damage is tapestry vintage
design with no weapons dress to kill
it means you don’t die
from the powerlessness of it
from the leap to fall in love
from believing in rebuilding
the other night i re-read this poem by Mahmoud Darwish. i read it silently. i read it out loud. i re-read and remember all the other countless times i have read it. the words slippery. the weight heavier. the sky smaller now....
The Earth Is Closing on Us
The earth is closing on us, pushing us through the last passage, and
we tear off our limbs to pass through.
The earth is squeezing us. I wish we were its wheat so we could die
and live again. I wish the earth was our mother
So she'd be kind to us. I wish we were pictures on the rocks for our
dreams to carry
As mirrors. We saw the faces of those to be killed by the last of us in
the last defense of the soul.
We cried over their children;s feast. We saw the faces of those who'll
throw our children
Out of the windows of this last space. Our star will hang up mirrors.
Where should we go after the last frontiers? Where should the birds
fly after the last sky?
Where should the plants sleep after the last breath of air? We will
write our names with scarlet steam.
We will cut off the hand of the song to be finished by our flesh.
We will die here, here in the last passage. here and here our blood
will plant its olive tree.
and lastly Aissa Deebi, a Palestinian artist from Haifa sent me this poem written by Taha Mohammed Ali, a poet from Nazareth
(er I cam including two slightly different versions for translations sake....)
Revenge: This poem was written by Nazareth poet Taha Mohammed Ali and translated from Arabic by Sasson Somekh. Line breaks have been replaced with dots in the version below due to space limitations.
Sometimes…I wish to hold…A duel…With the man…Who killed my father…And demolished my home…And turned me into a refugee…In the narrow land of man;…If he kills me…I will find my rest…And if I take his life…I will have taken my revenge.
But…If I learn…In the duel…That my adversary has a mother…Who awaits his return…Or a father…Who presses his right hand…To his chest, over the heart,…Whenever his son is late in coming--…Then I will not kill him, if…I should gain the upper hand.
By the same token…I will not slay him…If it comes to my attention…That he has brothers and sisters…Who love him…And miss him…At all hours,…Or he has a wife who anticipates his arrival…And children who suffer from his absence.
And his gifts gladden their heart…Or if he has…Friends and comrades…Or neighbors and acquaintances…Friends he met in prison…Or lay beside his hospital bed…Or old schoolmates…Who ask after him…At every opportunity…And send him regards.
But if he is alone…Like a branch chopped from a tree…Neither friends, comrades nor neighbors…No acquaintances, not a father, not a mother…And no partners to his path…I, then, shall not add anything of my own…To the pain of his solitude…The suffering of his demise…The bleakness of his oblivion…I will be content to ignore him…If I encounter him on the road,…And will convince myself…That ignoring him…In itself…Is a kind of revenge. (Ha’aretz, Culture and Literature, 6/23/06)
At times …
I wish I could meet
in a duel
the man who
killed my father
and razed our home,
expelling me into
a narrow country.
And if he killed me,
I'd rest at last,
and if I were ready—
I would take my revenge!
But if it came to light,
when my rival appeared,
that he had a mother
waiting for him,
or a father who'd put his
right hand over
the heart's place in his chest
whenever his son was late
even by just a quarter-hour
for a meeting they'd set—
then I would not kill him,
even if I could.
I would not murder him if
it were soon made clear
that he had a brother or sisters
who loved him and constantly longed to see him.
Or if he had a wife to greet him
and children who
couldn't bear his absence
and whom his presents thrilled.
Or if he had
friends or companions,
neighbors he knew
or allies from prison
or a hospital room,
or classmates from his school …
asking about him
and sending him regards.
But if he turned
out to be on his own—
cut off like a branch from the tree—
without a mother or father,
with neither a brother nor sister,
wifeless, without a child,
and with no kin or friends or neighbors
and neither colleagues nor companions …
then I'd add not a thing to his pain
within that aloneness—
not the torment of death,
and not the sorrow of passing away.
Instead I'd be content
to ignore him when I passed him by
on the street—as I
that paying him no attention
in itself was a kind of revenge.