Words Have Power

Stay Blossoming

My poetry is not necessarily

Remarkably great

I write because it’s an odd pleasant struggle

To unscramble my far-fetched thoughts

Into words

And somehow, allowing complete strangers relate.

I’m often asked,

When and why did you get into poetry?

It’s a really long story

But the why, definitely not for glory

The when? We’re talking as soon as I realized

How words rhyming to me is pure zen.

When I write a poem

The thrill is the same as finishing a painting

The canvas being the frustrated bottled feelings,

The ink bringing colour to my never-ending musings.

Poetry is a lifestyle

A means of essential clarity

Turning vague inklings of what I fancy or fear I feel

Into words acknowledging the situation as valid and real

When my mind has wars being fought inside it

Writing becomes my personal armor of sanity and mental uplift

Because as soon as I can make sense of the battles raging inside,

Then immediately all conflicts within cease and I’m fine.

Words are power,

Even if no one but yourself ever hears or reads them.

If you can put honest words to your values and truth,

Then no one and no media can ever make you doubt your worth.

Words have power,

Even if no one but yourself ever hears or reads them.

You have to realise, that growing up

I hid my identity a lot.

It was never exactly out of shame per say,

But merely because what I said uselessly went in folks’ ears one way,

And out the other way.

I’m Canadian.

“No, but where are you really from?

English is not your first language.”

I didn’t have the words then to say that

Canada was not their “home” either

For English and French being the First Nations people’s

Native tongues?… ironically, neither!

I’m Arab. My first language is Arabic.

I’m Muslim. And no, Islam is not the equivalent of being an Arab.

I’m Palestinian, Yes we exist, even if your map denies it!

“Ah, so you’re from the world of Disney’s Aladdin

Chopping hands left and right for desperate acts of sin

Arabian nights, Arabian days”

I didn’t have the words then, as I do today,

To take their ignorant expressions

And then eloquently proceed to slay

Those misconceptions.

Because words have power.

I now write poetry to describe beauty

But my journey started with slaughtering the ugly

Notions and stereotypes people had, still have, about me

Now? I’ve written enough poetry and claimed my own truth

To no longer let anything get under my skin

Trust me,

Even if no one but yourself ever hears or reads them,

Words do have power alright

So spill out your thoughts, and write.

~

~

And Allah knows Best.

-A.S.

(February 2019)

You Will Never Erase Me

by  Ismail Shammout

by Ismail Shammout

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

(un) Dear Zionists:

 

Isn’t it amazing that you hope

in fooling yourselves and others so easily

that you can

also

fool me?

As though I am unaware, or long ago stopped to care.

 

Isn’t it amazing that you think

by stealing my land,

my cuisine

and declaring tabboula

as  “Israeli salad”, it becomes your own?

As though I won’t recognize cultural appropriation when it is sown.

 

Isn’t it amazing that you insist

on calling the

occupied territories of Palestine

“Israel”?

Like it will erase the reality that

a Palestinian people were ever real.

 

Isn’t it amazing that you believe

by omitting maps of land theft in textbooks

it is as though you were never murderous crooks,

and that, by omitting genocidal facts in the education system,

you can pretend Palestinians wiped each other out,

out of barbaric desperation.

 

Isn’t it amazing that you think

in denying what you support,

what you’ve done,

what you’re doing,

criminalizing, abusing, and marginalizing me,

that you can strip away my heritage and identity?

 

No, zionism-infected minds

and a thousand times no!

You can ignore the truth of who you are,

although

at the cost of your dignity, integrity

and humanity. But…

 

you  will

never

ever

erase me.

 

Signed,

  • a Palestinian

Imagine Being Palestinian, in Canada

I cannot even begin to describe to you what it was like growing up as a Palestinian, in Canada.

But I will try.

Artist: Imad Abu Shtayyah

Artist: Imad Abu Shtayyah

~

Imagine being a child on the road to finding your identity, yet you are unable to convince the world that you exist.

No no, what do you mean you’re Palestinian? Just say you’re from Jordan, it’s what the majority of Jordanians are anyhow, and at least you’ll find it on the map.

The map. Did I mention Palestine exists – in all the hearts & minds of its people, its soil, culture, food, music, dance – I’ve even been there, smelled its sweet air, touched its green leaves, basked under the shadow of its olive trees… but “the map” will not show its existence. Instead it is lumped under an occupier’s name, one I refuse to acknowledge as legitimately formed.

What do I mean by lack of legitimacy? Imagine being thrown out your house by gunpoint with your family members, half of them killed in the process, and made into scattered refugees through violence. Meanwhile these thug criminals take over the house that you built yourself and comfortably live in it, with all your possessions intact. Yet it is now “not yours”, and in a twisted colonizer’s view, “never been yours”. Can we call the occupier a legitimate owner of the house? Never, and a thousand times no.

To be robbed and have it acknowledged as injustice is one thing. But to be robbed of material possession, as well as dignity and pride, and then be somehow blamed for it, is a whole other tragedy on its own.

Imagine being a 10-year old child in a privileged North American country, with little concerns in your pampered little life, when you walk into the living room as the news (obviously not CNN or Fox) plays. You see a small boy and his young father crouching behind a wall as the bullets shoot through the smoky air – and then both father and son crumple. Sudden death, completely avoidable, and completely deliberate.

Imagine knowing that their only crime was that they had Palestine flowing in their veins, but someone else decided they should not be safe on their own land. The land they built with their own hands.

Imagine living in a lovely place like Canada, and instead of feeling as though you are in Paradise, you instead can’t shake off the guilt that your life isn’t as difficult as the kids who risk their lives everyday just walking to school – because the bored soldiers at checkpoints could shoot at you or treat you like a bowling pin to knock over, by launching rocks at your head. (It’s all a game, let’s see who gets more points!) Meanwhile I am here, in Canada, feeling guilty at being safe, as though it were mandatory that a Palestinian child to be in constant danger.

Imagine feeling horrible for being helpless to fight the oppression your own flesh and blood overseas are forced to endure regularly. Imagine this burden on a 13-year old’s conscience. That was me.

The worst of it was, there was no one I could talk to about this. Things may be different now, but rewind over a decade and a half back, I was the only Palestinian (and even Arab), in my grade. It would have been nice to have someone who understood your inner torment, even if you didn’t need to express it.

“call me angry

i hear your voice salt with guilt

and I laugh.

look how easy it is to reveal you.”

— anger is a natural response to oppression (Nayyirah Waheed)

My only outlet in my youth was to write poetry – lots and lots of poetry – to express my frustration and anger. But who cared about the writings of a kid who had an entire country that “doesn’t exist” on her mind, when she should only be concerned with fashion and boys?

I have learned to smile through the anguish until I am now used to having people tell me they cannot picture me in a state of unhappiness.

But if you look past my dynamic colorful outfits and my radiantly positive attitude, you will find a burning sadness inside for the lost part of me I cannot seem to take full ownership of it until it is free.

Inside you will find a fire of rage for the silence of those too reluctant to speak justice when given the platform to do so (and here, the decision to “remain neutral” rings out the opposite message loud and clear). Inside you will find a volcano that erupts every time a Palestinian woman is degraded, every time a Palestinian man is humiliated, and every time a Palestinian child’s dreams are destroyed.

And still inside this heavy-loaded heart you will find the source of my smile, my strength, and my tranquility: the knowledge that Palestine will be free. It is one of those things that cannot die while people believe in it, and millions around the world are not giving up on it anytime soon.

Imagine being Palestinian, outside of Palestine, and realizing your heart never left it.

It is a beautiful ache.

Peace.

A.S.

Dabka Is Resistance

painting by  Ahlam Al Faqih 3

Painting by Ahlam Al Faqih

~

It’s not just a dance

(Though, admittedly, dancing it is)

It’s not just a great workout

(Though, let me tell you… the cardio…!)

It’s not just a form of entertainment

(Though entertaining to watch, it definitely is…)

It is, above all, cultural resistance.

When I, a Palestinian, do the dabka

in a relaxed setting,

What I am essentially saying with my body is:

I’m not forgetting

The past

Not forgiving the present situation

Not giving in to an illegal occupation –

I resist.

They may have the land – for now

But occupy our reasoning – just how

Can they expect us to foolishly give in

Our falafels as theirs and keffiyehs as fashion

What’s next – will Arabic

be their “own” language as well

While expecting us to meekly submit

behind the apartheid walls we dwell?

I resist.

Divide a community with a wall

And spill all the blood they want,

Yet there is One taking their every deed in account

Whether they remember it or not

Be you from the East or West, it doesn’t matter where

As long as in the name of justice we resist

To be divided in spirit.

From Gaza to Ramallah to Jerusalem,

Join hands in a circle and do the dabka

From Hebron to Nablus to Jenin,

Join hands in a circle and do the dabka

From every corner of Palestine,

And all the way to Canada,

I’ll join hands – no, hearts in a circle and do the dabka,

I’ll join hearts in a circle and do the dabka.

 flowery palestine

Dabka is resistance

To becoming bitter from anger and abuse

Dabka is resistance

To being blinded from the truth

Dabka is resistance

To becoming passive and neglectful

Dabka is resistance

To ever stop being proactive and hopeful

In His mercy and His will

To fix things still, oh –

Dabka is resistance.

Dabka is

Strong spirits, strong minds,

Strength of kindness one of a kind

Strong characters, strong perseverance

Strength of ongoing patient endurance.

And it shows with every bold step that we take

With every synchronized step that we make

And every graceful wave that is waved –

Dabka is resistance.

dabka ladies

-A.S.

A Name

Walking in the rain has me musing about the most random of stuff… like names.

Fantasy-sky-wallpaper

An ensemble of basic settlers

That came from a land of alphabetic letters

A simple initially empty word

That soon creates a crowded world,

Of oohs and aahs, of wows and hows

Or of yucks and tongue clucks, of sighs and rolling eyes–

A name.

Now allow your imagination to run amiss

And try really hard to picture this:

You stumble on a name of someone gone

Yet the name bears a legacy as bright as the dawn…

The name is associated with success & cleverness

The name is associated with intelligence & self-agence

A name.

The name became a brand, leaves a mark where it lands

The name was given life after the named left this life

A simple ensemble of lines called single letters

Meaningless at birth but meaningful seemingly forever–

A name.

And everywhere you encounter this name

It is always honored in some fancy hall of fame

And now take your imagination one step higher

And get ready for this – oh baby, you’re on fire! –

Because picture for a moment it’s not just a name…

A name. Your name.

… So what?

At the end of the day, the sun’s glory sets

Just as the body dies when comes its death

But the soul lives on in the reality of eternal states

Whether or not your name is written on dirt or clean plates

To leave behind a legacy and be fondly known

Should never be for a moment a goal on its own

Because your reputation and character are not always the same

Do not sacrifice the sacred for turning life into a game

A word that leaves behind meaning so incredibly much

But does it really mean as deeply as such…?

A name.

flying wallpapers letters background wallpaper

–A.S.

“Complicated”

I was going through a past course’s notes to refresh my memory on a physics concept, when I came across this in my notebook. I don’t remember ever writing it, but it is in my handwriting, so I must’ve done it during a metro ride one day (as usual). Anyways, here it is.

Complicated

 
You know what sort of intrigues me,
What I find is just a tiny bit cheesy?

It’s when someone asks you, in one word,
To accurately describe him or her.
Have you ever asked this?
I have in the past, yes, I confess
Then I think about it now, and how absurd it is
Feel free to disagree, it’s not my business…
See, a human being is not like a doll
In which one word, its trademark, can sum it all
You cannot expect someone to truly know you
When you yourself have no clue.
When you look to the unseen, take closer looks:
Describing you would take tens of books
If you took the time and contemplated
You would see that you are, in fact, quite complicated.
You might smile and laugh, while despairing inside
You might eagerly socialize when you just want to hide
You could act humble and noble while your ego really swells
You may look focused and concerned while your thoughts away dwell.
You might’ve once felt doubt, yet people admired you
So you convinced yourself you’re on the right path, too
You don’t try to think when they do the thinking for you
Of your own intentions, often you don’t have a clue.
Do your words portray a distant reality
That don’t quite fit your inner personality?
Or does your heart display different emotions
Than what you claim to feel as you go through the motions?
And yet we ask of others, outsiders of our souls
To put a word, a label to ourselves, that enhance our egos
So when asked to be described in one word, it’s best stated:
“You and me both… we’re complicated.”
 
–A.S.
Sometime in Year 2010-2011