Featured Image: Sanket Deshmukh
I would love to just tell you a story of liberty
But that would be unjust for my people
And not very liberating for me.
Just a century ago, stories of smiles were told
But lo and behold,
Just now Al-Aqsa was raided
And either the world does not care or does not know
But oh, how they all turn their heads and wear blindfolds.
I too, was born ignorant
At least today I am simply lost
But I now I vow not to hide and understand at any cost
Why I live to witness Palestinians’ hearts exhaust.
Palestinian poet, Mohamed Darwish, once said:
“I don’t completely know myself, lest I lose myself.”
Learning is the first step, knowledge is wealth
But there is no deliverance of truth, not enough books on the shelf.
Ironically, I wrote this poem in a bookstore
And believe me, I checked the entire first and second floor
Only three books with Palestine in the name
I naively scoured for more,
Then the realization came
That I was searching for something that did not exist — what a shame
But can I truly be blamed?
My privilege has never been awoken by an F16 — only thunder
It’s not the same.
And in my case,
I happily turn it into a game.
I playfully count each second between lightning and thunder to determine the distance between myself and the storm.
I can’t even imagine, but for my people, it’s the norm
To anxiously wonder if death will come knocking at their door
They yearn for a tranquil sleep, and can’t understand what for
That they have to count the moments between boom, bomb, and boom again, once more.
You know what?
It’s worth the mention
I don’t mind a little awkward “tension”
I typed the word “Israel” into the computer at that bookstore
I wish I could say the results caused my jaw to hit the floor
“How many books” you ask?
One hundred and sixty-four.
So, who is to tell me what is wrong and what is right?
Today is the day of blood of red,
Tanks of green
And darkness of black
But one day, our flag will rise
And in its completeness, fly along doves of white
Today is the day I write their wrongs, in attempts to fight for my rights.
More like, “is this real?”
So normalized are the casualties, we’re so numb we can’t feel
All the media does is censor and conceal
All the government does is force innocent lives into their sick little business deals.
I demand appeal!
They stole what belongs to me, what belongs to us
This is the textbook definition of unjust
Gone on too long, my culture is turning to rust
Our soil that once sprouted olive trees gone to dust
Can’t even afford to use their words:
Simply take their guns and start to bust
Deciding the fate of millions
Deeming us the villains, but they’re murdering civilians.
But not surprised
They paint us as terrorists but proceed to terrorize
There is terror in that little girl’s eyes
As she watches her mother, shot to the ground — she dies
She witnesses her home bombed and fall to ruins in an instant
There it lies
She hears the meaning of her mother tongue — demonized
She feels her motherland ripped from her hands — she cries.
Although I am a whole six thousand miles away
There is a version of myself that exists back there
One that I am quite literally connected to
And I feel every ounce of it with her, I swear.
Oh, I so painfully empathize
I had no say, but I was born in the West and I recognize
That I could have easily been her
I am her
Consumed with the echoing guilt of a survivor.
I have cried a million tears for you Palestine,
And I will weep a million more
But I promise to work harder than I will ever cry
And the harder they try to silence me, the harder I will clench my fist
And the higher I will raise it to the sky.
Nothing they could possibly do scares me
Not their censorship nor their blacklisting
What is the worst that they could do to me?
In the wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King,
If you haven’t found something worth dying for you are not really living.
I would love to see them try.
Perhaps, when it snows in July.
Maybe after, we can go watch pigs fly!
But we will never say goodbye.
We are outnumbered.
This is not a war of religion or culture but rather one against humanity.
Indeed, what is ever-powerful is resilience, passion, and unity,
And indeed, their money, politics, bombs, and ammo
Could never amount to that of our faith, resilience, and hope.
They stole our rhythm, but have never felt our blues
To surrender, I refuse
I won’t wave a white flag without black, green, and red too.
We may be lost
But we will never lose
Because it can only be over
When we so choose.