Thursday, July 31, 2014

“The Only Democracy in the Middle East”

Please leave your house immediately. 
Do not call it a home. 
This is our home not yours. 
Security demands it. 
Always, always, security. 
Our security. 
Take nothing, ask nothing. 
Stand over there, against the rubble, where 
you belong. All young men, come with us. 
You may not see your families again. 
No saying goodbye or hugging. 
We have suffered too much 
thanks to everyone 
but you are the only ones we can touch. 
Don’t give us any trouble.

-from Transfer (American Poets Continuum) by Naomi Shihab Nye


Tired of defending them like they were my own,
Tired of grieving them as if they were my kin;
I too am tired of seeing their bloodied faces on my screen.
They're not mine. I thought they were humanity's,
But there is no such thing. They're noone's.
Alone they passed through that gate,
Alone they moved beyond...
Beyond this world, beyond its ugliness,
And beyond ours.
May we never be forgiven; we unworthy of clemency.
May their wretched ghosts haunt us, we who watched on.
May their truncated lives curse ours; we deserve no better,
We who live on, as if they never happened.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


: Of Hope III
when it’s all done
and the white foam pours forth
you’ll be telling me
that song we drew when
the grass was freshly mown
was embroidered into
your mother’s skirt.

I will turn
and absorb your face
like it was the last kite of summer
and together we will drip
like old wounds
at the back of the throat.
There will be nothing that night
but the bees that circled our heads
and a sigh that congealed
with a dream.

(Originally posted on February 25, 2005)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It Goes...

: Of Hope II
And so it goes…

Wayward it goes,
Forward it goes,
It goes…

Stumbling it goes,
Hurtling it goes,
It all goes…

And we remain,
Seated in our skins
Picking the remains of the sea from our teeth
Sipping the horizon like it never changes

And humming.
(Originally posted on May 6, 2005; re-posted on July 24, 2006)

Verso Books

Following suit of Verso Books, in response to what's happening in Gaza, I am offering my friends free downloads of e-books I got from Verso, as long as you promise to buy from Verso at some point something equivalent to the download's value to support this great publisher:

The e-books offered are the following:

9781781685617_holocaust_industry-max_141The Holocaust Industry by Norman G. Finkelstein
Controversial indictment of those who exploit the tragedy of the Holocaust for their own gain

Verso_978_1_84467_877_8_reflections_on_anti-semitism_cmyk_300-max_141Reflections on Anti-Semitism by Alain Badiou, Eric Hazan, et al.
Dissecting how facile accusations of "anti-Semitism" are used to stifle dissent.

9781844678686_hollow_land-max_141Hollow Land by Eyal Weizman
Acclaimed exploration of the political space created by Israel's colonial occupation

9781844674503_case-for-sanctions-max_141The Case for Sanctions Against Israel Edited by Audrea Lim
Ebook now available for download for free.

Monday, July 28, 2014


: Of Hope I
Take a deep breath.

Hold it
Until you can feel its green lime
Bite at the edges of your being.

Now release it
So far that you cannot tell
It was ever yours.

As required.

(Originally posted on May 8, 2005; re-posted on July 24, 2006)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Comfortably Numb

: Of Grief IV
Stuff the slices down your throat
And choke on a smile
The end bounces off of a black screen

The line thins between the zenith and the abyss
He tells me my pain is only resistance
"Grieve!" he says, my agony does not suffice
Grieve loss upon loss until you are unaware of losses

Now it's their turn to fall from grace
From the stars, from above
And my turn to put them back up
Where they belong

My laughter sobs
And I become, I hope
comfortably numb

(Originally posted on Aug. 3, 2004; re-posted on July 24, 2006)

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Here we go again...
Since I haven't been able to write much poetry since this whole nightmare started, I have been mostly translating/posting other people's words: old songs, e-mails, other bloggers' posts... Which made me think of recycling some of my older poetry, much of which was written after the death of my grandmother and around the beginning of the Iraq War, and which uncannily expresses much of the emotion I am choking on these days. Maybe it's because Iraq was a more distant subject for me than Lebanon/Palestine that I was able to voice it then... For the longest time afterwards I hated those poems; I thought they were too angry, too raw, too... But after reading them again today, I felt they voice this cry stuck in my throat quite satisfactorily. So, I have decided to post them again; some unedited, some quite revised...
(Posted originally on Monday, July 24, 2006)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mahmoud Darwish: "On This Earth" محمود درويش: "على هذه الأرض

على هذه الأرض

:علَى هَذِهِ الأَرْض مَا يَسْتَحِقُّ الحَياةْ
تَرَدُّدُ إبريلَ
رَائِحَةُ الخُبْزِ فِي الفجْر
آراءُ امْرأَةٍ فِي الرِّجالِ
كِتَابَاتُ أَسْخِيْلِيوس
أوَّلُ الحُبِّ
عشبٌ عَلَى حجرٍ
أُمَّهاتٌ تَقِفْنَ عَلَى خَيْطِ نايٍ
وخوفُ الغُزَاةِ مِنَ الذِّكْرياتْ

:علَى هَذِهِ الأَرْض مَا يَسْتَحِقُّ الحَياةْ
نِهَايَةُ أَيلُولَ
سَيِّدَةٌ تترُكُ الأَرْبَعِينَ بِكَامِلِ مشْمِشِهَا
 ساعَةُ الشَّمْسِ فِي السَّجْنِ
غَيْمٌ يُقَلِّدُ سِرْباً مِنَ الكَائِنَاتِ
هُتَافَاتُ شَعْبٍ لِمَنْ يَصْعَدُونَ إلى حَتْفِهِمْ بَاسِمينَ
وَخَوْفُ الطُّغَاةِ مِنَ الأُغْنِيَاتْ

:علَى هَذِهِ الأَرْض مَا يَسْتَحِقُّ الحَياةْ
عَلَى هَذِهِ الأرضِ سَيَّدَةُ الأُرْضِ
أُمُّ البِدَايَاتِ أُمَّ النِّهَايَاتِ
كَانَتْ تُسَمَّى فِلِسْطِين
صَارَتْ تُسَمَّى فلسْطِين
 سَيِّدَتي: أَستحِقُّ، لأنَّكِ سيِّدَتِي، أَسْتَحِقُّ الحَيَاةْ
محمود درويش--

”.على هذه الأرض ما يستحق الحياة”
.مقطع  شهير من هذه القصيدة  لمحمود درويش منقوشة على أحد أسوار مخيم البقعة في الأردن

“On this earth there is that which deserves life.” 

The famous opening line of this poem by Mahmoud Darwish 

written on the wall of a Palestinian refugee camp in Baqa’a, Jordan.

On This Earth

"On this earth there is that which deserves life:
the recurrence of April,
the smell of bread at dawn,
the opinion of a woman in men,
the writings of Aeschylus,
the beginning of love,
moss on a stone,
mothers standing on a flute’s string,
and the invaders’ fear of memories.

On this earth there is that which deserves life:
the end of September,
a woman leaving forty in all her prime,
the hour of sun at prison,
clouds mimicking a flock of beings,
a people cheering those who ascend to their fate smiling,
and the tyrants’ fear of songs

On this earth there is that which deserves life:
On this earth there is the lady of the land,
The mother of beginnings, the mother of endings.
It used to be called Palestine, it will be called Palestine.
My lady: I deserve, because you are my lady, I deserve life."

--Mahmoud Darwish
(Translated by Ashraf Osman)