3:164

Featured Image: Sanket Deshmukh

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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.

“Israel”

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.

Disappointed

But not surprised

They paint us as terrorists but proceed to terrorize

There is terror in that little girl’s eyes

Traumatized

As she watches her mother, shot to the ground — she dies

Terrified

She witnesses her home bombed and fall to ruins in an instant

There it lies

She hears the meaning of her mother tongue — demonized

Through lies

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.

Forever resisting.

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.

Silence me?

I would love to see them try.

Erase us?

Perhaps, when it snows in July.

Maybe after, we can go watch pigs fly!

But we will never say goodbye.

We are outnumbered.

3:164.

Believe me.

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.