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Archive for the ‘refugees’ Category

“Perhaps like me you have no address” Mahmoud Darwish

 

And we will go, again and again
Down roads unwanted and unmapped.
Thrust out of our past and present,
We go slowly from, but never towards.
Away, it seems, always away.

You, I, our families,
The disconsolate unwanted,
In mournful unison, go
To where the nightingale flies over sky-less lands,
Circling in silent arcs past our
Rainbows of no color, the solemn hues
Matching the smile
We’ve forgotten to show and
The eyes we’ve left behind
Like an empty wine bottle and
An unmentionable promise of return. 

Leaving is now in our bosom,
The uncultivable feed of our soul,
The cold in our summers.
The sense of loss removes our fingerprints
From the al-mahmas and the al-houn.
We express our losses in silence as
Our soul bears its’ grief
Like an olive tree without roots. 

Upon our next inevitable leaving,
I will change my name
To as yet unknown letters
In a non-existent language,
Denying what we leave behind,
Drawing the letters from what we have
On our backs,
Forged from yet
Another star-less sky
And burned into our souls here,
Times own cryptography.
All we were is spilled from the carts that
We draw silently away,
Along the streets with no sun. 

 

 

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There can be no I here,
And I can see
There is to be no you,
But soft, that we go together
As friends
To where the dogwood will flower
And the scent of lilac fills the breath of
The disappointed and
The forever tired
With calm. And
We shall bathe in the universe,
Bask in the glories of the sun.
Sweeping aside
Who we were, what we are,
As the day laps on our skin
Gently like a kitten
On a path.
We can’t look behind us.
It is but a sad illusion for those such as us.
We can bring no oil, no wine, no myrrh.
No more of the streets of our youth
No more of the wine vats
In our once luscious gardens.
There is but small growth among them.
Olive trees, dark, like skeletons,
Scorched and barren.
All growth for them is finished but for
The light we afforded their charred roots.
Nothing is there but exile for us.
Let us go.
Let us hasten our renewals.
Now is the time to be kind.
Let us not have this darkness now.
Their suns and moons are no longer ours,
Let us go, as friends should.
Our clouds will flow immaculate over the hills
And leave their traces gently on their souls
With the softness of the freshest cotton,
Lambs wool in the pink morning sun.
Let us go on our way
With nary a backwards glance,
But there, towards our own new present.
Me, the poet
You the eternal traveler.
No longer reticent, but brave in our pace.
Let us go to that place
As friends to the day.

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An interesting look at Buddhists doing something one might not expect. Well, okay, maybe doing 2 things one might not expect; Protesting and using social media in ways other than teaching Buddhism or reaching followers. But then, perhaps it’s not as unexpected as one might think on first glance. The issues that are presented by the Trump administration are plentiful indeed, depending on your individual politics. The travel ban, or whatever he might wish to call in on any given day, is obviously the most contested so far. I’m sure that his policies and my own philosophies will clash many times.

Do have a read, dear reader. I hope you find it interesting.

Buddhist teachers, on social media, respond to “Muslim travel ban” (Updated)

 

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With, of course, all due respect to the brilliance of Gil Scot Heron, this time the revolution WILL be televised, send around the world live as a show of solidarity for all our brothers and sisters as they face their own struggle against the forces of facism and oppression, eager to wake to a new dawn where gender, race, sexuality, intellect, looks, nor religion are no longer a factor in determining one’s self-worth nor the individuals contribution to society. The revolution will be televised. It will be sponsored by the prayers of mothers in Aleppo, the fears of children in Gaza, the cries of hungry children of unemployed factory workers in Detroit and Portland, by the pain of migrant workers in the vineyards of California, by the single mother working three jobs to feed her child because some Trump- loving bureaucrat with no heart cut the funding that helped pay her rent while she finished her high school degree, the revolution will be televised the revolution will be televised the revolution will be televised. The revolution will be live!! #NowPlaying the revolution will be televised by Dan Hass https://open.spotify.com/user/danandinger/playlist/4bnyLrSGvNVfBEhNrUDOK0

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The hardest part of a poem is always

The start.

The saddest part of a journey is often

The journey itself.
A woman in a hijab waits in the subway

The whoosh of air as a train passes by,

Rustling the edge of her scarf on her soft face.

Posters on the windows of the train mere colors as they pass

Blues and greens and lots of yellow and white, and red

Red, the color she left behind,

Not red like a sunset, but Red.

Red like the lights of an ambulance,

Red like the cheeks of a wailing child.

Red like the blood-streets and sidewalks. Red.
The lights of another passing train flicker by.

Her hijab offers no protection, no barrier is formed between the soft fabric and

Faces lit and then hidden

Eyes shine momentarily and then retreat to dark.

Eyes she’s afraid to meet.

Faces she has learned not to look back at.

The color of her skin disallows contact.

The happiest part of a journey is quite often the arrival.

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I see my father sleeping

The only peace he knows is sleep

Should we wake him?

I see him sleeping

And recall my youthful dreams of him.

All dreams, I suppose, begin in youth.

The young can afford to dream.

Smokestacks become cathedral spires,

Then our aspirations, fueled by the noble half of our nature,

Grow higher, less noble, less precise,

And ultimately, out of reach.

Shall we tease him, throwing stones at his front door

And then run away like children?

Or shall we seek out others,

Who blindly rest, secure in his bosom,

Enticing them to fight our fights against him,

By tempting their fears and prejudices,

Knowing all the while that he will protect us?

But our father sleeps

Wishing to share the dreams

Of the children he has lost

But in his slumber, he cannot protect

Those who die in the streets everyday.

 

I see the other dreams vanishing also,

I see them vanishing on the faces of children who cannot eat,

Of adults who cannot read,

In the despair of a nation that cannot hope

I see America dazed and I don’t know why
I see America sleeping

Weeping, angry, I look upon that which I once called Father

And I see the blissful ignorance that only sleep can provide

A noble, slumbering, drunken giant such as him,

Asleep  on an ashen bed that once was our hopes,

But I cannot forget, I cannot forgive,

And I want to whisper into his good ear the words

“WAKE UP”

I wrote this a number of years ago. I believe it might have been during George Bush “the lessers” administration. I suppose the text more or less speaks for itself as to my intent and thought at the time. But when I read it now, it seems  to be still naive, still wanting America to be something like a Rockwell painting, or in the spirit of Whitman s’ poem “I Hear America Singing” where, to quote the cliffs notes review;

“The poet thinks of America as the “centre of equal daughters, equal sons,” who are “strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable,” and who identify themselves with “Freedom, Law and Love.” He salutes America as the “grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,” who is “chair’d in the adamant of Time.”

This short poem is a reassertion of the poet’s faith in the destiny of the American nation. It demonstrates his love of the masses, his devotion to democracy, and his belief that in responding to the call of a democratic process, America is fulfilling a spiritual need of her people.”  ( Link is here; https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/l/leaves-of-grass/summary-and-analysis-calamus/america)

Perhaps I still saw my homeland with the blinders of white privilege. Perhaps I still hadn’t thought far enough ahead to foresee the possibility that America could ever elect such a nepotist, such a fascist, a racist, and a disgustingly misogynist president. I hadn’t foreseen at that time the divisions that are ripping our nation apart or that such enormous division could even take place in this country with such high ideals to the point where one candidate could ever call the supporters of the other “deplorable”.

I’m not disagreeing with Hillary about that point, to be frank. I was and still am, in total agreement with that perception and was more than a bit disappointed when she apologized for saying it, although I understood completely.

I suppose what makes me sad when i reread this poem now, is that I don’t see America ever getting back to what the founding fathers had in mind.I don’t see our racial divides closing. I don’t see prejudice of any kind dwindling out of our consciousness. I don’t see the poor being fed, the illiterate being taught,I don’t see the immigrants being welcomed and given a new beginning. I don’t see poverty ending. I don’t see the homeless camps in the cities coming down. I remember being so disappointed when I heard a family member saying how much he hated them, how he would get almost violently angry when he drove by them. I don’t see America ever again telling immigrants to “give us your poor, your tired, your hungry” or at least if they did say it, i couldn’t believe in the earnestness of it without being very afraid of what those who have struggled might face upon arrival.What persecution they will face, what  hatred which was once unthinkable but now so commonplace will they face. Sadly, even the handicapped are not immune to ridicule, as the now infamous video clip proves. As Meryl Streep pointed out so well, whether or not it was the “Orangemans” intent to ridicule is secondary to the fact that by doing what he did, it now became acceptable to the rest of his deplorables.Bullying was immediately changed from something we were trying to eliminate to acceptable in one thoughtless moment. He has been shown numerous times publicly inciting his followers to violence against those who disagree with him, He has shown in simple terms the most vile contempt against any who have the courage to point to his many “mistakes of judgement”.

If America is to have any chance of returning to it’s ideals, or should I say finding them for the first time, it cannot sit idly by. It needs all of us to be watchful and alert. It needs all of us to refute and refuse to accept Trumps ideals as our own. It needs idols. It needs statespeople. It needs to find the strength to stand up. It needs, more than ever, to WAKE UP!!

 

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To say that the situation in Syria is an absolute abomination is an understatement. I do wonder what the future will bring, of course, we all do. What price will the people finally pay? How many more will die? All the obvious questions and those perhaps less obvious. I wonder about a nation that is butchering it’s own without any seeming regard. I worry about the children who can’t go to school, who can’t drink safe water, who can’t,,, well,, it feels so insincere for me to presume what they feel. I can’t begin to understand. This is where poetry comes in. It has a very unique ability to capture the terrible and transfer the image to the conscience of the reader. The cosmic connection of imagery as only poetry can accomplish. This article is one that I found about poetry in Syria. I found it fascinating. Sad, of course, but uplifting that poets can still use their voice. I ask, dear reader, do have a look,, let their poetry reach beyond the bombs of Assad and Putin. Here is the link;

‘Poetry is a witness’ to suffering wrought by Syria’s civil war

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The angels of heaven,

You say, “They can’t see us”.

Ah, but they can!

Their tears are the rain

That falls on the coffins

Of every refugee

Who never met

The better world.

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Drone video footage of Homs, in Syria, after the bombing. It is beyond description.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-35311709

Hundreds of writers are taking part in readings in support of the Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh, who has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia.

More than 120 events are being held in 44 countries on Thursday as part of a campaign organised by the International Literature Festival Berlin.

It is calling on the US and UK governments to intervene on behalf of Mr Fayadh, who is accused of apostasy.

He denies the charges and claims that another man made false accusations.

Human rights activists also say Mr Fayadh was denied access to a lawyer throughout his detention and trial, in clear violation of Saudi and international law.

‘Unjust and morally repellent’

Mr Fayadh, a 35-year-old poet and art curator who was born in Saudi Arabia to Palestinian refugee parents, has been a key figure in taking Saudi contemporary art to a global audience, according to the International Literature Festival Berlin.

Chris Dercon, the director of Tate Modern gallery in London and a friend of the poet, has described him as “someone who is outspoken and daring”.

Mr Fayadh was arrested in August 2013 following a complaint by a Saudi citizen, who alleged that he was promoting atheism and spreading blasphemous ideas, according to Amnesty International.

He was released the next day, but was rearrested in January 2014 and charged with apostasy because of his supposed questioning of religion and spreading atheist thought through his collection of poetry, Instructions Within, published in 2008.

He was also charged with violating the country’s anti-cyber crime law by taking and storing photos of women on his mobile phone.

In April 2014, the General Court in the city of Abha sentenced Mr Fayadh to four years in prison and 800 lashes for violating the anti-cyber crime law. But it found his repentance in relation to the charge of apostasy to be satisfactory and not requiring further punishment.

However, an appeals court overturned his original sentence and sent the case back to the General Court, which sentenced him to death for apostasy on 17 November.

Mr Fayadh has asserted that the poems are “just about me being [a] Palestinian refugee… about cultural and philosophical issues. But the religious extremists explained it as destructive ideas against God.”

Irvine Welsh, who will read at the Two Hearted Queen coffee shop in Chicago on Thursday, said he hoped the worldwide reading campaign would put “pressure on governments who espouse democracy and freedom to consider their actions in dealing with [Saudi Arabia]”, according to the Guardian newspaper.

A L Kennedy, who will be attending a reading organised by PEN England at the Mosaic Rooms in west London, said Mr Fayadh’s persecution was “very obviously unjust and morally repellent”.

The Saudi government has not commented publicly on Mr Fayadh’s case.

 

This is a sample of his beautiful, moving poetry, translated by Mona Kareem,

http://monakareem.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/ashraf-fayadhs-disputed-poems-in.html

Ashraf Fayadh’s “Disputed” Poems, in English Translation

1
petroleum is harmless, except for the trace of poverty it leaves behind
on that day, when the faces of those who discover another oil well go dark,
when life is blown into your heart to extract more oil off your soul
for public use..
That.. is.. the promise of oil, a true promise.
the end..
2
it was said: settle there..
but some of you are enemies for all
so leave it now
look up to yourselves from the bottom of the river;
those of you on top should provide some pity for those underneath..
the displaced is helpless,
like blood that no one wants to buy in the oil market!
3
pardon me, forgive me
for not being able to pump more tears for you
for not mumbling your name in nostalgia.
I directed my face at the warmth of your arms
I got no love but you, you alone, and am the first of your seekers.
4
night,
you are inexperienced with Time
lacking rain drops
that could wash away all the remains of your past
and liberate you of what you had called piety..
of that heart.. capable of love,
of play,
and of intersecting with your obscene withdrawal from that flabby religion
from that fake Tanzeel
from gods that had lost their pride..
5
you burp, more than you used to..
as the bars bless their visitors
with recitations and seductive dancers..
accompanied with the DJ
you recite your hallucinations
and speak your praise for these bodies swinging to the verses of exile.
6
he’s got no right to walk however
or to swing however or to cry however.
he’s got no right to open the window of his soul,
to renew his air, his waste, and his tears..
you too tend to forget that you are
a piece of bread
7
on the day of banishment, they stand naked,
while you swim in the rusty pipes of sewage, barefoot..
this could be healthy for the feet
 but not for earth
8
prophets have retired
so do not wait for yours to come to you
and for you,
for you the monitors bring their daily reports
and get their high salaries..
how important money is
for a life of dignity
9
my grandfather stands naked everyday,
without banishment, without divine creation..
I have already been resuscitated without a godly blow in my image.
I am the experience of hell on earth..
earth
is the hell prepared for refugees.
10
your mute blood will not speak up
as long as you pride yourself in death
as long as you keep announcing -secretly- that you have put your soul
at the hands of those who do not know much..
losing your soul will cost time,
much longer than what it takes to calm
your eyes that have cried tears of oil
* These poems appeared in Fayadh’s poetry collection Instructions Within which was published by the Beirut-based Dar al-Farabi in 2008 and later banned from distribution in Saudi Arabia.
Translated by: Mona Kareem

For information on what you can do to help with his release, go to Amnesty International at this address..

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/free-ashraf-fayadh-saudi-arabia-palestinian-poetry-apostasy-execution

 

I highly recommend reading this gifted poet, and of course, signing Amnesty’s petition for his release.

 

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