We Are the Palestinians – A Poem

(Photo: Activestills.org)

By Gary Corseri

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
Other than “the People–”
The ones who had always been.

Intruders came
And marched across our land.
They brought Sky Gods
And iron weapons.
They butchered our babies.

The old men prayed,
And 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, peace and justice.
Sometimes they listened politely.
(We were pawns in their games.)
Sometimes they yawned at our wounds.

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 we are unfree, all men are unfree.
While our 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?
Their tears and their laughter—less precious?
Are they not, also, the children of this Earth
And the children of God?
Are our men less valiant, our women less heroic?

We are the People, the People of this land,
And we ask you, Big Fish,
What kind of tapeworm tortures your insides?
Have you lost all honor?
You talk of God, but bow before Moloch,
Sacrificing your own children
And the children of others.
Your Moloch 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.

The roaring of a thousand tanks cannot still us.
Truth is dark, and we see with our 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.
In the name of God, they murder God.

We are the Palestinians,
And we will live and let live,
But not if you take the means of our living,
Not if you belittle us.

Troy has been.
The great gold eagles of Rome
Lie beneath the sands.

While we are unfree, all men are unfree.
While our children are walled-in,
All children are walled-in.
Time sharpens the tools of our trade.
Suffering burnishes memory.
We see with our dark eyes.

– Gary Corseri has published/posted poetry, fiction, dramas and articles at hundreds of venues worldwide, including The Palestine Chronicle.  He is the author of 2 novels, 2 collections of poems, and editor of the Manifestations 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 gary_corseri@comcast.net.

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