Inside Your Own Short Story As I Read to You
Ghassan Kanafani assassinated
inside your own car,
inside your short story,
blown up driving a niece to college.
Two lives too worthy to perish
into ashes unfading.
Secret assassin ogled and darted.
Freedom fighter assassinated
inside your short story.
Poetry will free you.
Occupiers still have our Motherland,
never still in the night,
raids and kidnappings daily,
darkness swoops boys up like dragons,
rocks cradled in shirt pockets,
close to the heart.
Freedom fighter assassinated.
Poetry by candlelight,
non-violent protestors teargassed,
non-violent protesters shot down,
non-violent protesters sprayed with sewage,
non-violent protesters become political prisoners,
some still looking for our Gandhi.
More than an Intifada rises each advent.
Youth is paralyzed—
state-sanctioned policy for stone throwers.
Heroes lie among cacti.
Ceaseless ground revolution this Intifada,
literally a “shaking off,”
fire in children’s eyes,
stones cracking and crumbling for freedom,
weapons against the David.
Children of the stone-age Intifada,
kip with their marbles and rocks,
spirit and tenacity of survivors
alongside immortal olive trees
of more than 400 Palestinian villages flat-lined.
Look, Ghassan, look down,
see prickly fruit ripening,
ancestors with deep roots.
Lend your ear; listen to air-borne rocks
swishing through the air,
hurled by boys who will wane
decades in cells for such exploits,
no more stones in sweaty palms.
Listen to brothers and sisters wailing,
to moans of crushed mothers,
the nineties presented
horrors akin to Hiroshima, dropped
just for practice, power and petroleum
on our Cradle of Civilization,
Goodbye, my Levant
Goodbye, my Levant, my Fertile Crescent,
for you have gone amiss from me.
Your marauders and mercenaries of demise,
with their resolute, voracious evil,
annihilated the grandest
of your past and present exaltations;
toppling you down off eternal hilltops,
burying after the fall, beneath rubble—
flesh, soul and ancient grandeur in one fell swoop;
plunging upon our petrified ancients,
ill-fated throngs of living and breathing.
Meanwhile the hungry wide-mouthed sea,
swallow whole in one quaff,
unfortunate mortals rich enough
to flea in teeming dinghies,
to join a ghastly graveyard of innocents.
Those spared a horrific land destiny,
grow silent with no prayer, no cry, no chant,
in the growing whirlwind of misfortune.
Goodbye, my Levant,
for you have gone astray from me.
We may not meet again until perhaps ten to twelve
generations of spectators’ gouging footprints
upon your sanctified soils of fallen columns and arches,
once more entering your ever impassable sesame door.
Goodbye, my Levant,
for you have gone away from me.
My supreme, bedridden calamitous Levant,
you are one entity to me my sweet.
Please know and find solace—I will always love you.
I trust you will rise once more and fully awaken.
I implore you wake me from my dream when you do.
Your body is dead, your heartbeat
remains subtle and steady,
your soul will never leave you now.
I believe you will open your eyes
to see me eagerly waiting for you.
You are eternal my celestial region.
Goodbye, my Levant,
for you have gone again from me.
Those you loved, that loved you back, are dazed
Why have you faltered once more
from me and from yourself,
seeming invincible and omniscient?
Your beauty and marvel now lie
among ancients awoken and rattled in horror.
All whom have fallen along with you,
find their way down along with
fortresses, palaces, and coliseums,
joining in a mass burial atop tombs.
What gives you the right to
commit to your own doom now,
in this vile way; and why now your prophecy?
Other unfortunate souls have partnered
with the ravenous sea,
at the invitation to its wide open,
hungry, and obdurate mouth?
This very sea is not as voracious
if left still and left alone and not one’s home.
Goodbye, and a final farewell for now,
my pictorial Levant
Your hazel eyes are Palestine,
Your sharp ears are Iraq,
Your resilient teeth are Syria,
your impeccable eyelashes are Lebanon
your striking pink and red cheeks are Jordan.
Until we meet again my love, and we will.
Old Palestine Fertility Goddess
Rolling hills and valleys of old Palestine,
One of the most fertile lands
before a conquest.
Oceans of wheat and
legume fields carpeted
and fed regions of Europe and the Arab World.
Orchards of fig, date, citrus, apricot,
grape, almond, walnut, plum,
to name some
adorned precious Falastin,
once free, and its people thriving.
The land of “milk and honey”
as sweet as round semolina cookies,
I baked with mother and grandmother,
sprinkled with mystical powdered sugar,
resembling white and yellow narcissus flowers,
decorating a generous and peaceful fantasy land
under an Arab sun.
Red and pink tulips, an abundant prize,
after Tateh Hilweh and I completed a daily
trek to pick wild, edible, sprawling greens.
My experienced guide picked young, tender leaves,
never the mature, bitter ones, or ordinary weeds.
We stuffed and rolled our harvest
with tender lamb, rice,
tomatoes, onions, herbs.
Fresh baked bread from Sitti’s taboon,
an outdoor igloo-oven warmed
bellies, feet, souls and hearts.
We filled handmade baskets with
anise, chamomile for tea and medicine,
as centuries of ancestors gathered before us.
We ventured out to cactus groves
that stand guard against time and marauders,
an eternal, painful landmark of beloved Palestine.
Remembering our gloves, we slowly pick
and feast on bright, red cactus fruit,
tasting the nectar of gods and goddesses,
all the while praising God, expressing
gratitude for the bountiful land we’ve farmed
for 5,000 years in Canaan
We perch on ancient boulders while Sitti
fills my imagination with folktales and legends
of flying carpets and harrowing tales
of Ali Baba and his 40 thieves,
and sailing Sinbad, confronting monsters.
Sitti is like a clever Sheharazade,
A princess saved from arranged marriage,
that cleverly recites adventures of The Arabian Nights
Stories of my ancestors,
stories of prince and princesses,
stories of healing with chamomile, mint,
sage, anise, satisfies my imagination.
She spoke of the peace and serenity of a free Palestine—
free of occupation, free beneath blessed blue skies,
free to plant, nurture, harvest and prosper,
free to explore and adore our holy place
under an Arab sun.
My joy ride begins as I descend, freely viewing
ageless vistas of SF Bay Area’s Peninsula,
filled with wild lupins and poppies.
An urban lush oasis of oaks and toyon.
West down Edgewood road,
a magnificent flight down,
smelling pines and laurels.
Outdoor museum generously curated
with hawks, jays, herons
flaunting Earth’s original tones
A reborn sky
as my protective canopy.
Dotted with serene, fit horses,
darting deer, wild coyote, grey foxes,
white owl overhead as a guardian angel,
freedom fields carpeting gloriously.
My majestic exit after work,
entrance to an unscathed wilderness,
less than an hour away
from a metropolis madness
with a famous red bridge.
For nibbling baby-faced deer,
sneaky skunks, rude raccoons,
black tree squirrels, bold and lucky crows,
joining the circle dance Cali provides
for those who want to smell and breath.
Ending my commute home,
I breath in deeply.
The day is forgotten with a
showered by Eos at dusk,
bathing my soul with a fresh air bath.
A surreal glide down the hill
in a flying craft, feeling like Pegasus.
Long enough to make believe,
I float amidst the splendor of 360 degrees
worth of glorious nature,
enveloping my wholeness,
feeling the oneness in the process.
Respecting my elders—towering pines,
grandfather eucalyptus, bending oaks—
I bow to them gratefully,
to their unmatched majesty,
cloaking the towering
Santa Cruz Mountains
that wallpaper for miles and miles,
between the sky of gods and goddesses
of California's coastal blues.
I glide down the hill with glee
open all the windows, face coming alive,
turn off the radio, listen to nothing,
A child rolling down a grassy hill,
humbled before the mighty mountain,
feeling good about my size in comparison.