The Broken Pen – A Poem

By Rassool Jibraeel Snyman

My pen is broken

And cannot write

My thoughts fail me

What sonnets do I write

What empty words are these

That I might place on accusing paper

When there is death in the streets

And silence in the spaces

Between our ribs

And the dungeons of our minds

Hidden are we in our ivory towers

Our voices stilled

As we sip wine

And savour delicacies

Of blood and nectar

Truth like death

Is a subject none will talk of

Or think of

For fear of it

And what I might bring 

The world is engulfed in flames

"Murder" the night screams

 I turn up the music

The strains of Bach

Beethoven and Rastaman mingle

With explosions and screams

My silk shirt crimson

The colour of blood

Of despair

Yellow the colour of my courage

The ghosts of Auschwitz

Drift in the acrid powder

That floats as mute witness

To genocidal extravaganzas

And political theatrics

"Make up" screams the director

Of Hollywood propaganda

And embedded journalism

"Cut ..Cut" bellows the producer of cellulose lies

And deceitful scripts

"Anti-Semitism" yells the jaundiced nationalist

Silencing truth

Murdering dissent

Burying any thought that seeks the sun

What has the world become

Crows caw into the night

Harbingers of doom

Messengers of death

I break the tablet

Like the Moses of old

Smash it to the ground

And trample upon the shards

The words empty meaningless

Beware the eyes of January

The Pharaohs of Judah

Ascend the throne

Red are the rivers that flow through the lands

Bombs are gifts from the heavens

Phosphorous the fireworks

Sparkles of death

The first born is dying

Beneath the rubble


For no crime but existence

The kings of Egypt silent



In silent death

And slow strangulation

Silent murder and ghostfaced killers

Tip toe through Gaza

Collecting souls

From gaunt bodies

Ashen faces

And haunted eyes

The wheel of history turns slowly


The roles have changed

The blood remains

"Murder!" the cry echoes into the night

The world slumbers

As death stalks the land

Icy grin on his face

Reaping insatiably


Birds peck at

Unseeing eyes

That stare emptily at the heavens

The age of peace has died

An untimely death this night

Pharaoh grins from the throne

Who speaks for Palestine the innocent

A victim of race


Nationalistic dreams

And silence

What sonnets do I write

What empty words are these

The age of Pharaoh at its zenith

The pen is a sword no more

Violence the gift that the man creature bestows upon itself

The crown it wears

Weep not lest the stars fall

And the heavens crash to your feet

Sing softly rather the song of freedom

That Palestine the innocent

May rise from the ashes

Break her chains

And sing with you

Her song of freedom

Of joy

Of rebirth

Let her touch your breast

That you might have her words

Inscribed in your being

Written on your soul

My pen is broken

My inkwell dry

The candle splutters

And dies out

I savour the darkness




In the distance I hear a nightingale sing

The song of Palestine the innocent

Notes carrying in the still air

Across time and space

I know in the morrow the sun will rise

And new words will be born

Somewhere in the recesses of my consciousness

I know that in the morrow

I will write new thoughts

Of freedom

Of laughter

Of joy

Of Palestine the innocent

Her unchained dreams

And unfettered memories

Dare I think these thought

Of resilience

Of hope

Of light in the dark

The return of sanity

In a world gone mad

Do I close my eyes

And succumb to the allure of silence

The seduction of forgetfulness

The wiles of inactivity

Nay. Nay.. Nay

Nay I tell you

I shall reach for my pen

Sit in the light

And write sonnets

Of Palestine the innocent

Of her grandeur

Her struggles

Her people

Of who she was

And who she will be

In the sunlit morrow

For she is our memories

She is us

And we will not forget

It is in our memories that she has life

It is in her that we have life

I will write in the morrow

When the shadows have faded

And dreams have new meaning

(South Africa – August 03, 2009; "Songs from the Ether")

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