Archive for Poetry



Art by Ben Heine

Art by Ben Heine



Some say I’m only dreaming, putting meaning in peace meetings

That I believe in all these things that no one else is seeing.

and I feel my heart beating when I hear the voices pleading

scream in bitter agony like a two year old who’s teething


All these fantasies unhealthy like eating empty calories

And it’s hard to see possibilities when planes bomb factories,

Destroy economies and all the hopes inside of me.

All this shit is killing me like clogged pulmonary arteries


And I can’t separate myself from it, see this struggle’s a part of me.

So that explains the pain I’m feeling, why it’s so hard to breathe

And as I step in puddles of blood, my eyes grow watery

Subtly wipe the tears away, and request you to pardon me


‘Cause these constant calamities have made me complicit and compliant

Find myself falling to my knees when I used to stand defiant

It might be a thousand years before all these guns become silent

So I’ll stick to these dreams as a means to free me from the violence


It started before they reported disorder in 1948

Before they cornered three quarters of my people and forced’em to evacuate.

It’s evil.

How one people promised the land of a second people to a third people,

Spurned people to give birth to an absurd people,

a preferred people who transfer people.

Rape and murder people,

ignore world consensus and commit human rights offenses

then hide the evidence, building security fences

claiming self defense while massacring the defenseless.


So I’m patiently waiting for the creation of a sovereign nation

cuz a two-state negotiations is useless if it won’t end the occupation,

So I’m basically wasting my breath on deaf and dumb populations

the situation mishandled, so dismantled like Russian space stations


And I see them change the information to control the debate.

Say my peace is a dream, but it seems I’m the only one who’s awake.

I’m sorry if I’m mistaken, though this situation’s got my knees shakin

I can’t accept the feeling that this whole fuckin’ time.

I was only dreaming. 




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Buried under steel skyscrapers in Tel Aviv
Deep beneath city streets built by Zionist thieves,
Lies the land of my people, concealed by unspeakable evil,
Demolished mosque minarets and broken church steeples.

Lost in dreams of distant memories
of what could have been, but will never be.

Jealous of Americans’ contented ignorance,
Their inherent unawareness mixed with indifference
An innocence that causes him to explicitly abhor them
his words dwarfed by all those who wrote before him.

Tukan, Barghouti, Darwish, Jayyusi
What will he say that these poets did not?
Brave wordsmiths who stepped towards the gunshots,
Put pens in slingshots and flung verbs instead of rocks.

How differently will his text reflect the madness?
What hasn’t previously been expressed by those faithful Arab accents?

A wish that his words weren’t wasted ink,
but carried enough weight to sink in,
Not chewed and spewed,
Regurgitated like too much cake,
And left on Facebook and MySpace pages.
Like quotations from so many Arab sages

He despises how they’ve taken inspiring lines
and placed them on coffee cups of corporate franchises

Words are only powerful if they are heard.
So he urges you
To listen.

How they changed 15 days of refuge into 60 years
Circulated false claims that no one lived there
Replaced old Arab names with new Hebrew seals
Arranged elaborate Mandates and enforced biased deals

How can he sleep
beneath exploding skies,
these children do not?


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A more important, but vastly more daunting, challenge identified by the report is taking on the Islamic establishment to remove cultural obstacles sanctified by religious rulings. The report says that the reform it envisions “will modernize religious interpretation and jurisprudence through the widespread adoption of the enlightened readings [of Koranic texts]. –What’s Holding Back Arab Women?


of the two sexes, she is a symbol. a voiceless, formless representation. disgraced at birth, she is a vessel. filled with ideas that existed long before she was born. she drags her heavy labels around daily, and carries the fear always that she will fail fate’s expectations.

holy men call her fitna. she is disorder, chaos, to be kept out of sight and out of space, hidden away where she can hurt no man. out of time, so when her children are trained in history they learn that men are what mattered and men are what matter.

she is as the arabs say, “half a mind, half a creed, half an inheritance.” she does not matter.

she is above all, honor. she matters. her last name is a trust. a burden of expectations. what she does, what she says, what she dreams. all scripted, all preapproved, and society will watch observantly as she performs her role faithfully. if she falters, her last name falters too. she matters.

she is honor, she is shame. it used to be that a man could bury his shame beneath the dirt. beneath dirt, lower than dirt. but shame was saved, placed above the dirt and told she was free, as free as a ghost. and so she roams, out of sight, out of space, out of time. but if you listen closely, fate can be heard slowly dragging behind.

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In Remembrance

As Ramadan draws near, I am reminded more of the the daily struggles of a people needlessly suffering, needlessly dying, in what seems like a world away despite its proximity to my heart. I read this and I remember to appreciate the life I have here, but more importantly I remember to spread this information. I can’t accept that people don’t care.
I think people don’t know.
We’ve become complacent in our comfort. I once gave up too; accepted the world as imperfect and moved on. I am ashamed of that.
I post this to remind you, just as it reminded me, to always take steps towards changing the world from (to quote a great orator) “the world as it is,” to “the world as it should be.”


Areej—the Scent of Youth and Death
By Dr. Hanan Ashrawi

“In memory of Areej Al-Jabali, 18 –years- old, assassinated in Hebron by the Israeli army on January 5, 2001”.

Your name still wafts through
Alleys and centuries of stone with
Which old Hebron—Khalil the Compassionate—
Wraps itself.
No mercy there
Only settlers strutting
Gloating in the knowledge that the siege,
Barbed wire and curfew,
Encircle only you
And yours
For theirs is the space
Erased from the law
A blank page stained with
Spilled blood and scribbles of insanity
While yours is the youth and blood spilled—what
Wanton abandon—seeping
Almost, almost unnoticed, into crevices
Where memory almost sleeps.
(In Hebron, an 18-year-old woman died, caught in the crossfire)

You almost finished high school, with
Your unwritten certificate, a pass—
Safe passage through a different siege, instead,
A bland testimonial of blind death groping—obscene
Bullets, how many, penetrating virgin flesh
Untouched, violated now unseen,
The evil of anonymous listings, Areej, shall not
Rob you of that which is yours: the thick<
Long lashes, ruddy cheeks, lips full of unkissed
Promises (You should be happy, child, your
Mother said, no need for blush, mascara
Or fake vanities). I saw you,
Face made up, wrapped in your coffin, not my
(Or your mother’s) arms.
Artificial death. Its ugliness left no mark,
(Your hair a glossy main—no head wounds Discerned
The neighbor’s boy was smitten. Averting your
Eyes, Areej, you sensed his urgent
Need, modesty prevailed,
The promise postponed,
Blessed are the pure.
The soldier boy obsessed with the kill
(Have you become an etched x on the nozzle of his gun?) Perhaps his first?
Daughter, heir, of ancient Abraham, your Hebron
Dowry is heavy, pregnant with history and horror.
What exchange of fire caught you? Trapped, you cast a
Glance of anger, perhaps a look of contempt
(Disdain does not become you)
He fired back a bullet, and you’re
Eighteen forever,
Frozen, your moment of immortality
Captured, as you, caught by surprise,
Wondered, for an unrepentant second, is this all?
Is this it?
And he, an instant murderer, let out a breath—
This is it.
Unrepentant, forever branded,
His nameless victim eternally engraved
Within what makes him what he is,
What he will always be.
Although your eyes had never met, he wears
The stench of death, and you—the
Scent of youth.
Areej, the fragrance of wild flowers
Wafting through the hills of Hebron, yours
Is no abstract death
And mine is no impersonal sorrow.
Your Mother has granted me the right to share
Her grief—a mother too—
In the heart of bereaved Jerusalem.
No, no wedding ululations,
False courage before cowardly death,
Forging endings way before
Time, and your breasts, have ripened.
You will not learn, Areej, the full
Fact of your death,
Nor he.
But we do, and shall.
Forgive me for not letting it pass
Unnoticed, hovering in numbers,
Headlines, and withering wreaths.
Forgive me for letting it
Come to pass, unwittingly, like a sidelined
Chorus of fate in the face of tragic choice.
(It was not mine to make, nor yours,
But years ago, someone signed a pact that sealed your
Fate, and made the choice for both).
Have you found your peace, Areej?
One chance after the last chance
Found you unprepared, unadorned,
Your guilt—an unforgivable innocence
Immersed in hope, freedom within your grasp.
Is yours the ultimate iniquity of natural
Life before unnatural death? Of daring?
Humming a tune to yourself while hanging
Laundry on the roof to dry? The sharp
Pain of a loose clothespin drawing a drop of blood?
The gaze cast over rooftops, a daydream
Of college or the boy next door?
Too early, too late, daughter of Palestine,
Time cast you into misplaced peace
Into a realm of almost
And the sin of unfinished
As magnificently mundane
As the flag that enfolded you.
As ritualistic as a mother’s incantation,
A prayer for the innocents: Lead us not into
Heroism for the pain of a child,
The death of a child, is anguish beyond
It is done. It is undone. It is not done.

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