A Letter

From the September 2015 PNL #845

Remi Kanazi
A Letter
Remi Kanazi
I’m writing this letter
to tell you that
I can’t talk to you anymore
not in the way you want me to
we used to be partners in thought
hands outstretched
drinks thrown back
two peas in a pragmatic pod
if only others
could see the way we did
but now your face
contracts in grimaces
words you can’t bear to hear
lines that shouldn’t be crossed
too harsh for your parents
too normal for mine
I sounded like a bitter refugee
pined on Yaffa
emotions of my grandmother
talked of return and immediate action
I crushed our dream
with rocks of reality
a wounded dove
who could no longer swallow hypotheticals
when teardrops flooded Gaza like tsunamis
I read so much Chomsky
I didn’t want to return
re-examined my identity
after Said’s The Question of Palestine
finally recognized that
I didn’t have to read a book
to be a humanist
Desmond Tutu, Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks
showed me the Right of Return through action
when I spoke of boycott
you dangled anti-Semitism
over my head like blackmail
and how could I shut down
my art to dialogue?
when I created art
to start dialogue
but Zinn told me
you can’t be neutral on a moving train
King proclaimed
freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor
it must be demanded by the oppressed
and Adrienne Rich burned into my memory
the moment of change is the only poem
when I said we needed to act
you told me to write more poetry
when I said I wanted my poetry to bring action
you told me that my poetry was action
but I come from a family of privilege
a sector of society
that never puts its hand out
and writes policy for the have-nots
I tried to win hearts and minds
but found the keys to their hearts
were in their hands
opening doors to houses
they still carry deeds for in Akka
I’m writing you this letter
to tell you
I can’t talk to you anymore
not in the way you want me to
but if one day
you want to meet again as equals
I’d be more than happy
to show you why old men
devastate backs and break bones
to harvest their land
a Mediterranean sunset
so magnificent
not even a settler’s highest
hilltop could imagine its beauty
I can show you
perfection in bruised knees
the soft side of callused palms
I can’t show you
in the way that you want me to
I can only show it to you
in the way
that it exists

I’m writing this letter

to tell you that

I can’t talk to you anymore

not in the way you want me to

 

we used to be partners in thought

hands outstretched

drinks thrown back

two peas in a pragmatic pod

if only others

could see the way we did

but now your face

contracts in grimaces

words you can’t bear to hear

lines that shouldn’t be crossed

too harsh for your parents

too normal for mine

 

 

I sounded like a bitter refugee

pined on Yaffa

emotions of my grandmother

talked of return and immediate action

 

I crushed our dream

with rocks of reality

a wounded dove

who could no longer swallow hypotheticals

when teardrops flooded Gaza like tsunamis

 

I read so much Chomsky

I didn’t want to return

re-examined my identity

after Said’s The Question of Palestine

 

finally recognized that

I didn’t have to read a book

to be a humanist

Desmond Tutu, Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks

showed me the Right of Return through action

 

when I spoke of boycott

you dangled anti-Semitism

over my head like blackmail

and how could I shut down

my art to dialogue?

when I created art

to start dialogue

but Zinn told me

you can’t be neutral on a moving train

King proclaimed

freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor

it must be demanded by the oppressed

and Adrienne Rich burned into my memory

the moment of change is the only poem

 

when I said we needed to act

you told me to write more poetry

when I said I wanted my poetry to bring action

you told me that my poetry was action

 

but I come from a family of privilege

a sector of society

that never puts its hand out

and writes policy for the have-nots

I tried to win hearts and minds

but found the keys to their hearts

were in their hands

opening doors to houses

they still carry deeds for in Akka

 

I’m writing you this letter

to tell you

I can’t talk to you anymore

not in the way you want me to

 

but if one day

you want to meet again as equals

I’d be more than happy

to show you why old men

devastate backs and break bones

to harvest their land

a Mediterranean sunset

so magnificent

not even a settler’s highest

hilltop could imagine its beauty

I can show you

perfection in bruised knees

the soft side of callused palms

 

I can’t show you

in the way that you want me to

I can only show it to you

in the way

that it exists

Remi Kanazi, a Palestinian spoken word
artist, will speak and perform at the
Peace Council’s 79th Birthday Dinner
on Saturday, October 3 (see page 3).
Photo: www.poeticinjustice.net

 

 

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