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IN TZOTZIL


On a green hillside

south of Ocosingo,

a campesino in rubber boots

and a black ski-mask

raises his single-shot .22 high

and curses the deep blue sky

that has taken his children.

Together, the family had gone

to cut the sweet cane in its season

when the plane came circling back

and dropped its death bombs upon them.

the bultos hit the ground

like an evil kiss, the concussion

knocking him into mindless oblivion,

and when he awoke,

blood was bubbling

from Rosa's lips

and young Agustin

was cradled limply in his lap

on the banks of the San Carlos river

where such a thing

had never fallen

from the sky before.

It was his own Black Tuesday

and in the broken earth of his heart.

the seed of Jihad germinated.

In San Cristobel,

the Tzotzil men

stand in the street

staring at the banks

of shiny television screens

upon which the jumbo jets

plow into the crumbling skyscrapers

over and over and over again.

What are they thinking?

That it is just a movie?

That it is the end of the world

or maybe the beginning

of the next one?

That it is none of their business

or all of their business

because now the caixones

will come again to tear apart

the new dawn?

War has lacerated

these small wise women and men,

forced them into caves

to eat weeds and offal,

their cousins have been killed

over and over and over again

but not on the TV.

Is it really a movie

or is the movie house

being torn apart

by advanced Tomahawk

missile systems

guided by cowards

at the controls

10,000 miles

from their targets,

too far away

to count the body parts

or hear the lamentations

or taste the blood.

The corn is tall enough now

to be bombed, the river

full of secret germs,

the wind is salted

with the worms of fear –

the Tzotziles have known war before,

have tasted its rotting fruit,

suffered its oozing wounds,

picked up their children

and they were dead.

"There is a fire in my heart"

the mother said,

"if I could reach the one

who killed my son

I would eat him

until he was dead"

the mother said,

the Palestinian mother said,

***********

in Tzotzil, Chiapas 2001
LINES WRITTEN ON THE F TRAIN
BETWEEN WEST FOURTH STREET AND
BORO HILL BROOKLYN AFTER 9/11

BUT BEFORE THANKSGIVING 2001  


* with apologies to William Burroughs


and the flags will fritter and fray,

and the nightmares will fade to black

as the bombing becomes background noise

to our darkening expectations,

and we will return to our daily foxholes

where we think the heat-seeking missiles

will not find us.

and they will trample

our most fundamental human rights

break down the doors to our dreams

and seal us up in subterranean dungeons

and no one will ever know

our names anymore.

and God will bar passengers

bearing turbans and Holy Korans

from using the restroom

on domestic and international flights.

and God will get bored

with blessing America

and go back to where

He came from.

and the oil will freeze in our veins,

and the light will dim in our eyes,

and we will be lost once again

in the night without an inkling

as to why the whole world

hates us.  

O Pobre Patria!

O Land Where My Father Croaked!

O My Sweet Sisters and My Brothers!

Deck your heart with lamentations

for the worm has turned

and our days are numbered
A PIECE OF CHOCOLATE


The three youngest boys

begged their father

for just one shekel

to buy chocolate

from the market.

Abu Aziz was reluctant

to allow them outside

the small house so late

in the afternoon

but the curfew in Jenin

had been lifted

and the market

only 50 meters away.

Besides they were good boys

who always obeyed their parents

and never threw stones

at the soldiers of the Occupation

so I gave them each one shekel:

a shekel for Achmed,

a shekel for Jamil,

a shekel for Tariq,

and told them

to hurry back home.

After just a few minutes,

we heard a loud explosion

and feared for the worst.

A single Israeli tank

stood smirking in the street.

You could still smell the smoke

from its terrible canon,

and we saw the boys then

lying there in a heap.

Achmed's internal organs

were spread all around them

there on the bloody ground

and Jamil's legs were cut in two.

Only Tariq was untouched

by the exploding shell.

When we ran to them,

we saw that the boys

were still holding

the piece of chocolate

in their little hands.

Both my sons died later

at the Dr. Suliaman Hospital

and we buried the two brothers

still with the chocolate

in their hands.

So this is what it means

to be born a child

in Palestine these days:

you will die in the street

with a piece of chocolate

in your hand

and you will never

get

to eat it.

Occupied Palestine,

************************  

From a piece in the Jerusalem Times,

November 2003


THE FIRST RAIN IN YANOON


The first rain

comes to Yanoon

at long last.

We have waited

many dry weeks

for you, drinking in

the sun-baked days

on the terraced hillsides

talking to God

about water,

a conference call

with the clouds.

We are so thirsty

the parched fields

whisper to the wind.

Now the valley

flashes an electric beam

of green blades

and the new wheat

promises bread

and victory.

************************
Occupied Palestine,

The Olive Harvest,

November 2003
These poems are from BOMBA    -
available from the author
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Contents this page:

  • IN TZOTZIL

  • LINES WRITTEN ON THE F TRAIN
    BETWEEN WEST FOURTH STREET AND
    BORO HILL BROOKLYN AFTER 9/11

  • A PIECE OF CHOCOLATE

  • THE FIRST RAIN IN YANOON