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Poetry

Ode to the Black Prince

“You know that woman who came by herself?” said the vinegar craftsman to the server.

“You mean me?” I asked, revealing my presence, losing the chance to hear the next sentence.

Would it be that I was still there, hours later, sated with wine, recipes and stories?

Was it the story I told the young woman who made my pizza, of my travels seeking stories that bring peace? Her great aunt couldn’t marry a Catholic, not because of faith, but because of politics. Her cousin just married a Catholic, a sign of growing peace in Ireland.

Peace Fought, Peace Lost

I met a man who came from away
With no friends, no money, no English
Everything against him

But he was proud
He had two hands, he wanted to work
Not accept help

This man went to Toronto and almost starved
Before he found somewhere to eat and sleep

This man has two degrees, he’s a priest, he risked his life defending human rights
He can’t go to law school because his war-torn country can’t send his degrees
How ludicrous
He could teach the truth that children should not be used as soldiers
That people who defend children should not get shot

Two Wheels

Trees and paths

Leaves and needles

I collect burrs like badges on two wheels

Three million neighbours and no one knows I’m here

except the squirrel ignoring me in the twilight

 

Night falls

I climb

up hills which hid the ravine

Gentle drops and warm wind, slough off the day’s cares

as I race the downpour to my door

What would I give up?

What would I give up so the world didn’t cry?

All mistakes to prevent regret?

Then we’d have to always know the right choice.

Would I sacrifice curiousity for omniscience,

The fun of learning for all wisdom?

The chance of rejection for guaranteed love?

Would an effortless love be worth anything?

Freedom and individuality for automatons who can’t do evil?

The need for heroes, by preventing all suffering?

Love, so there would be no loss?

The ability to choose not to love?

The ability to choose?

I Want (I Don't Want)

I don’t want our kids to meet at encounter groups, to learn to empathise with the “other”

I don’t want them to hear of the Holocaust, to learn how our homelands became our graves

I don’t want them to talk about the Nakba, the right of return, and how long it takes

I don’t want to fear that in my nascent country, we risk annihilation again

I don’t want to fear that in my exile, we risk losing the chance for a homeland

 

Throw love, not stones

Should I throw love over the wall instead of stones?

Chocolate kisses

Valentine hearts

Gifts on the strings of balloons?

 

Will you take the chocolates for stones

Respond with tear gas

Burn my eyes and nose?

 

I want to tear down this wall

Look into your eyes

And know you as friend, not enemy

May I have this dance?

I want to dance at the wall in beautiful protest
Cast a vision of the future in its shadow today

We could hear the same music, dance to the same beat
But I couldn’t see you, our hands couldn’t meet

We could set up a webcam, make a window in the wall
I’d rather you open it, I want to walk tall
through the gate that encloses me now like a prison
Let this vision of the future shine bright as through a prism

The Cage

I live in a cage with very prevalent walls
that block me in and hide the sun

I rail at them, throw rocks and stones
Must you respond with bombs? 

You hold the power of whether I can wash, or work
Whether I can skype with my aunt, or visit the day of her birth

You say yes to my brother, and no to me
Must you put my parents in such misery?

I rail at the wall with rocks and stones
You hold the power to tear it down

Will you?

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