Gary Corseri wrote this poem during yet another Palestinian shoah--in June, 2006. Now, more than six years later, the theme remains tragically relevant: recognize the suffering, repression and humanity of another and you become the other, and you will stand with the other against oppression and for humanity. Now, in November, 2012, we endure yet another Palestinian shoah--95 years this month since the infamous Balfour Declaration. Then the Briton Balfour handed over someone else's land to another people in 126 words. The loss and the weeping has continued ever since. The flywheel of terrible suffering has now been given another kick.

 

Before Moses or the Romans,
Before Jesus and Muhammad,
Before the Turks and the English,
We dwelled in this land.

We built cities out of the dust,
Watered with our tears,
Mortared with our joys;
We fished the abundant seas,
Blessed our children’s marriages
In our cool olive groves.

We did not bother
To give ourselves a name.
We were “the People,”
The ones who had always been.

Intruders came
And marched across our land.
They brought Sky Gods with weapons
Of iron and steel.
When we complained,
They butchered our babies.

The old men prayed,
And they were murdered where they prayed.
The women keened
And were murdered where they keened.

We wrote petitions to World Councils
And were laughed off the stage.
We appealed to the Great Powers
For mercy, understanding, justice.
Sometimes they listened politely.
(We were pawns in their games.)
Sometimes they yawned at our wounds.

We are a small people, and our skin is dark with the desert sun.
White men with pink skin arrive from America;
White women with pink babies come from England.
This is their land, they say.
And they call themselves Semites.
But their skin is not the skin of the Semites.
Their blond hair and blue eyes are not of the Semites.

While I am unfree, all men are unfree.
While my children are walled in, all children are walled-in.
Do you think we want less for our children than you want for yours?
Do our children deserve less than yours?
Is their innocence less precious?
Less precious their tears and their laughter?
Are they not, also, the children of this Earth?

Are our men less valiant, our women less defiant?
You kill us six to one, and still we come back at you.
We will never surrender.
We are the People, the People of this land,
And the People who live next door
And in your dreams, and in your nightmares.

And we ask you, Big Fish,
What kind of tapeworm tortures your insides?
Have you lost all self-control, all honor?
You talk of God, but bow before Moloch,
Sacrificing your own children
And the children of others.
Your God grows fat on the sacrifice of others.
Power and wealth consume you.
You bulldoze mountains, you bulldoze women.
You show us your names in your books
But fail to discern our names
Written in the roots of trees,
Scratched in the ancient stones.

I am a Palestinian,
And the roaring of a thousand tanks cannot still me.
Truth is dark, and I see with my dark eyes.
The Turks came, and before them, the others.
The English came, and after them, the others.
In the name of God, they murder our children.
In the name of God, they are murdering God.

I am a Palestinian,
And I will live and let live,
But not if you take the means of living from me,
Not if you belittle me or my wife or my children,
Not if you spit on the grave of my father,
And manhandle my mother, my brother and my sister.
Troy has been; the great gold eagles of Rome
Lie beneath the sands.

While I am unfree, all men are unfree.
While my children are walled-in, all children are walled-in.
Time sharpens the tools of my trade.
Suffering burnishes memory.
I see with my dark eyes.

 

Writer, editor, and teacher Gary Corseri has published/posted his work at hundreds of venues worldwide. He is the author of 2 novels, 2 collections of poems, and a literary anthology; he has read his work at the Carter Presidential Center, and had his dramas performed on Atlanta-PBS and elsewhere. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..