No Words to Tell
Double Trouble because of ones DNA....
Date: 5/21/2005 9:49:54 PM ( 14 y ) ... viewed 1303 times
I found this piece LONG ago and thought it was interesting except for the swearing. It was offensive to read for me personally. I recently found this piece again and decided to post it. I was thinking of editing this, but just kept it in its original form. The author being raised in a culture of profanity, the timing, the emotions regarding his homeland and his people, the anger of not knowing why.....is understood. Granted I despise words such as these, yet they are not mine, they are of anger, sadness, grief and confusion.
Below is a piece by Palestinian-American writer Suheir Hammad, author of "Born Palestinian, Born Black." Suheir was born and raised in NYC.
1. there have been no words.
i have not written one word.
no poetry in the ashes south of canal street.
no prose in the refrigerated trucks driving debris
not one word.
today is a week, and seven is of heavens, gods,
evident out my kitchen window is an abstract
sky where once was steel.
smoke where once was flesh.
fire in the city air and i feared for my sister's
life in a way never
before. and then, and now, i fear for the rest of
first, please god, let it be a mistake, the pilot's
heart failed, the
plane's engine died.
then please god, let it be a nightmare, wake me now.
please god, after the second plane, please, don't
let it be anyone
who looks like my brothers.
i do not know how bad a life has to break in order
i have never been so hungry that i willed hunger
i have never been so angry as to want to control a
gun over a pen.
even as a woman, as a palestinian, as a broken human
never this broken.
more than ever, i believe there is no difference.
the most privileged nation, most americans do not
know the difference
between indians, afghanis, syrians, muslims, sikhs,
more than ever, there is no difference.
2. thank you korea for kimchi and bibim bob, and
corn tea and the
genteel smiles of the wait staff at wonjo the smiles
the heat of the food or how tired they must be
working long midtown
shifts. thank you korea, for the belly craving that
brought me into
the city late the night before and diverted my daily
train ride into
the world trade center.
there are plenty of thank yous in ny right now.
thank you for my
lazy procrastinating late ass. thank you to the
germs that had me
call in sick. thank you, my attitude, you had me
fired the week
before. thank you for the train that never came,
the rude nyer who
stole my cab going downtown. thank you for the
sense my mama gave me
to run. thank you for my legs, my eyes, my life.
3. the dead are called lost and their families hold
printouts in front of us through screens smoked up.
we are looking for iris, mother of three. please
call with any
information. we are searching for priti, last seen
on the 103rd
floor. she was talking to her husband on the phone
and the line
went. please help us find george, also known as
adel. his family is
waiting for him with his favorite meal. i am
looking for my son, who
was delivering coffee. i am looking for my sister
girl, she started
her job on monday.
i am looking for peace. i am looking for mercy. i
am looking for
evidence of compassion. any evidence of life. i am
4. ricardo on the radio said in his accent thick as
yuca, "i will
feel so much better when the first bombs drop over
there. and my
friends feel the same way."
on my block, a woman was crying in a car parked and
stranded in hurt.
i offered comfort, extended a hand she did not see
before she said,
"we"re gonna burn them so bad, i swear, so bad." my
hand went to my
head and my head went to the numbers within it of
the dead iraqi
children, the dead in nicaragua. the dead in rwanda
who had to vie
with fake sport wrestling for america's attention.
yet when people sent emails saying, this was bound
to happen, lets
not forget u.s. transgressions, for half a second i
hold up with that, cause i live here, these are my
friends and fam,
and it could have been me in those buildings, and
we"re not bad
people, do not support america's bullying. can i
just have a half
second to feel bad?
if i can find through this exhaust people who were
left behind to
mourn and to resist mass murder, i might be alright.
thank you to the woman who saw me brinking my cool
and blinking back
tears. she opened her arms before she asked "do you
want a hug?" a
big white woman, and her embrace was the kind only
people with the
warmth of flesh can offer. i wasn't about to say no
to any comfort.
"my brother's in the navy," i said. "and we"re
arabs". "wow, you
got double trouble." word.
5. one more person ask me if i knew the hijackers.
one more %¤#&!§-ask me what navy my brother is
one more person assume no arabs or muslims were
one more person assume they know me, or that i
represent a people.
or that a people represent an evil. or that evil is
as simple as a
flag and words on a page.
we did not vilify all white men when mcveigh bombed
america did not give out his family's addresses or
where he went to
church. or blame the bible or pat robertson.
and when the networks air footage of palestinians
dancing in the
street, there is no apology that hungry children are
sweets that turn their teeth brown. that
correspondents edit images.
that archives are there to facilitate lazy and
and when we talk about holy books and hooded men and
death, why do we
never mention the kkk?
if there are any people on earth who understand how
new york is
feeling right now, they are in the west bank and the
6. today it is ten days. last night bush waged war
on a man once
openly funded by the
cia. i do not know who is responsible. read too
many books, know
too many people to believe what i am told. i don't
give a f*** about
bin laden. his vision of the world does not include
me or those i
love. and petittions have been going around for
years trying to get
the u.s. sponsored taliban out of power. shit is
complicated, and i
don't know what to think.
but i know for sure who will pay.
in the world, it will be women, mostly colored and
poor. women will
have to bury children, and support themselves
through grief. "either
you are with us, or with the terrorists" - meaning
keep your people
under control and your resistance censored. meaning
we got the loot
and the nukes.
in america, it will be those amongst us who refuse
blanket attacks on
the shivering. those of us who work toward social
support of civil liberties, in opposition to hateful
i have never felt less american and more new yorker,
brooklyn, than these past days. the stars and
stripes on all these
cars and apartment windows represent the dead as
citizens first, not
family members, not lovers.
i feel like my skin is real thin, and that my eyes
are only going to
get darker. the future holds little light.
my baby brother is a man now, and on alert, and
praying five times a
day that the orders he will take in a few days time
are righteous and
will not weigh his soul down from the afterlife he
both my brothers - my heart stops when i try to pray
- not a beat to
disturb my fear. one a rock god, the other a
sergeant, and both
palestinian, practicing muslim, gentle men. both
born in brooklyn
and their faces are of the archetypal arab man, all
nose and beautiful color and stubborn hair.
what will their lives be like now?
over there is over here.
7. all day, across the river, the smell of burning
rubber and limbs
floats through. the sirens have stopped now. the
back on the air. the rescue workers are
traumatized. the skyline is
brought back to human size. no longer taunting the
gods with its
i have not cried at all while writing this. i cried
when i saw those
buildings collapse on themselves like a broken
heart. i have never
owned pain that needs to spread like that. and i
cry daily that my
brothers return to our mother safe and whole.
there is no poetry in this. there are causes and
effects. there are
symbols and ideologies. mad conspiracy here, and
information we will
never know. there is death here, and there are
promises of more.
there is life here. anyone reading this is
breathing, maybe hurting,
but breathing for sure. and if there is any light
to come, it will
shine from the eyes of those who look for peace and
justice after the
rubble and rhetoric are cleared and the phoenix has
we got to carry each other now.
you are either with life, or against it.
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