Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Palesraeli Poetry


Profane Poems in the Promised Land;
Sacred Verse in the Cursed Center

July-August 2015
by Quincy Saul

* * * * *

The serenity of apartheid
The obscenity of the sunrise
The holiness of land
The conscience of sand.

The sun is rising over Gaza
Pouring life and death like lava
From destiny's molten core,
A volcano to implore:
The heavens to redeem the earth,
To promise love to every birth.
The soil to redeem the sky
To promise peace to all who die.

In dreamless sleep the world is one
Oh sunrise let thy will be done.

* * * * *

You only know what you can see:
Thus the sunlight teases thee.
You can only see what you already know:
Thus the moonlight comes and goes.

But your secret is awakening
As water makes the desert sing:
So you can see more than you know
Even as the blossom grows,
So you can know more than you see,
Even as you can know me.

* * * * *

Apartheid is as apartheid does:
Burning children; beachside love.
Apartheid does as apartheid is:
Takes away all that it gives.

* * * * *

Will deep dry heat burn up the lies
Or bake them into hardened pies
Which generations will consume
And in digestion meet their doom?

Death and destroyers they become
Of the present, past and still to come.

Will the searing sun redeem
The silky silence of their victims' screams?
Will the blazing sky reveal
The soil's wound, that it may heal?

Or will every day conceal
The blooming desert of the real?

Will there ever come a time
When Israel loves Palestine?
What God or Devil, Heaven or Hell
Could love or hold thee, Israel?

* * * * *

Write a poem on a leaf,
Put your sword back in its sheath
And write a song to raise the dead;
As above, so beneath.

Though peace and justice call for rage,
Take a leaf from nature's page,
And write a rhyme for the growing green.
If you must burn then burn like sage:

Write a poem on the sky
So all the land can read your cry
As beneath, so above:
Raise the living, ask them why!

* * * * *

Everything under the sun has been named
But meaning is wild and can't be tamed:

Gaza like a bomb between the lips
Jenin like a fuse between fingertips
Ramallah like a patient moon
Nablus like a mountain of fire, soon.

Tel Aviv like a petulant child,
Jerusalem like faith gone wild,
Haifa like a dream gone wrong,
Jaffa like a broken song.

Israel like the wages of crime
Only redeemable in Palestine.

* * * * *

Is this the midwest or the middle east?
Fields of wheat, but without yeast,
Combine harvesters, power lines,
Stolen land and hidden crimes.

* * * * *

The emptiness of thought
Where everything is bought
The emptiness of soul
Where everything is sold
The emptiness of faith
The spiritual disgrace
When the land of milk and honey
Is ransomed for money.

(Arriving at the Jerusalem Bus Station)

* * * * *

(Jerusalem 1)

Does greatness rub off
The stones worn soft?
Do prayers rub in
Streets steeped in sin?
How much blood spilled?
How many spirits filled?
How much truth
And how much proof?
How much deceit
And how much belief?

How much pain and how much love?
Enough to fill the skies above,
How much grace and how much grief?
Enough to fill the ground beneath.
Enough still to come and enough left behind
To stagger any heart or mind.

* * * * *

(Jerusalem 2)

Here is the church and here is the steeple
And its single God for every people.
Here is the mosque and its call to prayer
To one God and one Prophet in the believers' care.
Here was the temple and here is the wall,
And the chosen people whose one God rules all.

Here is the stone and here is the sky,
Here is the present flying by.
Here is the dream and here is the faith,
Here is the prophecy, here is the grace.

Here is the hatred and here is the hurt,
Here is the pestilence, here is the dirt.

Here the convergence of ancient glories
Here the crossroads of modern stories.
Here the calling of what's to come,
Here the befalling of what's to be done.

And here is just another place
Another dream of the human race,
Here is a city cursed to be first
In the hearts of the best and the hopes of the worst.

Here is a city whose time will pass,
Here is the topsoil for the next world's grass.

* * * * *

(Jerusalem 3)

A city that feels like a final breath
Suspended, sustained in dynamic depth,
A city devoted to death, which lives,
A city that like any other gives us
Shelter and purpose and memory,
Prey to conquest and tyranny,
Fertile in chance and destiny.

A city devoted to death, which lives
Like water passing through a sieve:
Is the city the sieve or the water?
Which is hatred, which is honor?
What remains after all this time?
Law or crime? Beauty or grime? Poison or wine?

A city devoted to life, which dies
In the clash of profit and power and pride.
A city of dreams which wakes up and dies in
Apartheid walls upon the horizon.
A city that shines like a beacon of prayer
Trapped in a snare! Beware of its bite! Prepare for a fight!
A city devoted to life, which dies
In the occupation of Palestine.

A city, murdered symbol of unity,
Calling for mass and momentous mutiny
Against the world which has wrought it this way,
And for the world of peace for which it prays.

A city immortal in spiritual depth
Yet a city that feels like a final breath.

(If it doesn't succumb to its demons of slaughter
The sun will dry up all the water.)

* * * * *

(Jerusalem 4: Al-Haram Ash-Sharif)
The center of this world,
Where it started, where it ends,
The magnetic north of truth,
Where it hardens, where it bends.

Where souls shall be weighed,
Where prophets ascend,
Where sacrifice is measured,
Where judgement descends.

The throne of God
The primordial clay
Rapture night
Resurrection day.

Where kings are remembered,
Where the covenant's kept,
Where God is dismembered,
Where the son of God leapt.

Where Jesus committed his one act of violence
For which he was crucified:
Where the son of God fought the rule of money,
The living cause for which he died.

Where David and Solomon ruled and judged,
Where Abraham's son escaped sacrifice,
Where Mohamad alighted from a winged horse
And where he ascended to paradise.

Where empires pray,
Where crusaders slay,
Where pilgrims converge,
Live and die for the Word.

Where the Temple of the Chain
Failed to separate wrong from right,
Where all believers stake a claim
And sing, and shout, and kneel, and fight.

Where Mercy's Gate is closed,
Where soldiers guard its doors,
Where the poors await the Messiah
And the Messiah awaits the poors.

Where apocalypse will dawn
On cypress and olive trees.
Where revelation beckons,
Where birds come and go as they please.

Where Mercy's Gate is locked
Where the Messiah cannot enter
Where the path to peace is blocked:
The cursed and blessed center.

* * * * *

(Mount of Temptation)

To seek refuge in a desert cave
From a world of empire, sin and slaves,
To search for what's beyond the grave,
To burn for truth in the sun's sharp rays...

To meet the devil face to face,
To conquer hunger and pride and power
With grace at the hardest and darkest hour,

To fight Word with Word in delirious silence,
And to convert God to love from violence!
To distill from the simmering end of a world
The wisdom of newborn boys and girls.

To forge a legend of temptation
In the boiling sun's ablation
To inspire a thousand nations!

From the universal refuge of desert caves –
Carved by destiny's standing waves –
As beacons to a world of slaves
To meet your fears – be not afraid!
Of Self or State or God or Grave!
Fix your eyes on the horizon's blade:
This is the lesson that Jericho gave
A slave who defied himself and his tribe
And met the devil on its mountainside
To free himself from doubt and fear
Until he could speak to those who could hear
Of a destiny drawing near:

Of people from money and empire saved,
And of paradise gained because we forgave.
If this is what you love and crave,
Seek the refuge of desert caves!

Because love has not yet conquered hate
Because the holy city has imperial gates
Because money and empire rule the race
Go meet the devil face to face
And conquer him with love and grace.

* * * * * 

1 comment:

tiya said...

i love Jerusalem 2 and all of them but the one i love the most is:

Everything under the sun has been named
But meaning is wild and can't be tamed:

Gaza like a bomb between the lips
Jenin like a fuse between fingertips
Ramallah like a patient moon
Nablus like a mountain of fire, soon.

Tel Aviv like a petulant child,
Jerusalem like faith gone wild,
Haifa like a dream gone wrong,
Jaffa like a broken song.

Israel like the wages of crime
Only redeemable in Palestine.