Poems – Poem
Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi
Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi’
ONLY THROUGH YOUR LOVE CAN WE SURVIVE
[September 17, 2001]
To the children who lost their parents in the tragic attacks on
USA on 9/11/2001
I fix my gaze on your eyes,
Trying to fathom the depth of your anguish
And the extent of your pain.
When your parents kissed you goodbye that morning
It never crossed your minds that you would never meet again;
Buried under the rubble, the bodies of your loved ones
Have dotted our emotional landscape
And have made you closer to our hearts than ever.
Your pain has thrown us into the unspoken pain of the millions
Of suffering children around the world, JUST like you.
We feel as though our raison d’etre, foundation, and identity,
Has been shattered beyond belief
However, your beautiful and sad eyes give us
A glimmer of light, hope, and anchor;
We tread the path of agony, this time, not alone,
But in unison with you;
We surrender ourselves completely to you,
You have become our guide, just like the SAGE in Dante’s Divine Comedy;
You have become our teachers, giving us lessons in love,
Humility, and compassion;
We see on the horizons the beginnings of a new dawn;
We see your compassionate smile
Taking us by the hand in the new darkness
Surrounding the world.
Your proximity to us has made life meaningful again.
Yes, we will overcome this tragedy together;
Yes, we will overcome it together with the suffering children of
When? We do not know!
The world seems to be poised on creating
More suffering for children like you
But We are sure that one day we will overcome;
We are sure that one day your smile will melt down all the anger
And hatred of this world.
TO THE CHILDREN OF AFGHANISTAN
[November 30, 2001]
Thousands of children and orphans are roaming
The rugged mountains of Afghanistan
Moving so fast but going nowhere
The last time they saw the sky was before
Bombs began to shower the earth
Smoke and pollution have made them introspective
Pondering the inner soul of humanity
Looking for answer for their never-ending plight
Where to hide from the bombs
And where to hide from the sins of the world?
In a freezing night in the Hindu-Kush mountains
I glimpse the eyes of these wanderers by night
SEARCHING FOR FOOD
And praying that no more bombs would fall on their heads
I feel the pain of your stomachs
And I become ashamed of our affluence
We have made you poorer than before
And expunged you from our conscience.
Yet, every day we talk about the virtues of our civilization
You are starving in front of our eyes;
Yet we enjoy our snacks and drinks while watching you on TV.
When we bomb the hell out of your devastated cities
And rugged mountains
We claim with a big smile that we stand for mercy and human rights.
And the cold, dreary eyes of the military experts dominate our TV
Telling us about the great victory we have achieved against the
I feel the breath of the stones
The soul of the mountains
Crying out in pain
After waves and waves of our
Penetrate the subterranean depth of nature.
The aching heart of the world saturates my being
Lifting me away from the pain of those innocent children.
However, I see you in the mountains of Afghanistan
The streets of Africa
In our downtowns in the USA.
No one greets you and none bids you farewell
You have been deserted and alienated
But “blessed are the aliens, since they are the heirs of the kingdom
Yes, our spiritual starvation does not acknowledge your blessedness.
Come close to me
And revive my poor soul
You are the salt of the earth
You are the perfume of our existence.
WHO WILL WEEP FOR PALESTINE?
[March 11, 2002]
Greet our house for us; oh Stranger,
Kiss the stones of our backyard;
Embrace the leaves of our trees
That have shed so many tears since our departure
And take care of the animals TOO,
Who have gone hungry since we left
And do not forget to pray at the grave of my mother
For all the strength that I have, has come from her.
And greet Father for us
In the chaos of the night;
In the chaos of departure
He was left behind
And although we smell his presence all the time
He has disappeared from our sight.
Do you remember the routes of our exile?
I was a baby then
And my mother forgot me hanging in the saddle of our donkey,
Who was shot for trying to return home.
Since that time I have been weeping
For the death of our beloved donkey
Who sacrificed his soul for mine.
You, who are coming from across the seas
Fortified with the claims of civilization
And the fake mission of peace
Take your civilization away
And leave us to our simple ways, to our fig and olive trees
Take your tanks out of our refugee camps
And take your snipers out of our hearts.
You have been asking us to stop
Our anger at dispossession
So that our Arab Emirs and Sheikhs
Can gamble away
the wealth of the desert,
Or that their American friends can suck out the oil
From the fossils of the desert;
And get drunk in the corridors of Washington and London.
You can exile us, strangle our kids,
And murder our neighbors.
But please be kind to our dreams, to our past
Do not murder our future together
Because some day we must learn how to live together.
We, the humiliated and the defeated, have extended our
hands to you all this time,
Begging you to forgive us for the sins we had never committed
Begging you to drink our coffee with us
To eat our food with us
And even to sleep in our bed.
But you have refused
You wanted our coffee, our food and our bed without us.
You have thrown us into the nightmare of exile, into
the abyss of agony.
You have broken the feet of a whole generation, gouged their eyes,
And left them to bleed to their death
And we are still begging you to be merciful; to be
mindful of our plight
We still believe there is an atom of humanity within you.
How sad is it to walk the streets of cold New England
Holding the Departed Ones’ hands
And how sad is it to thinic of your eyes
That are full of tears?
And how tragic that I am left alone after your departure
from this life
Left alone, unprotected and unsafe!
Please take time from your place of rest to call on me.
Remember the aroma of Coffee coming out
From many a chimney of sleepy villages
And the smoke coming out of the nostrils
Of old men and women smoking the Huka?
Where to we go from here?
When we are burdened with our tragedy
When we are not left in peace alone
Where do we go from here?
TO THE MARTYRS OF THE JENIN REFUGEE CAMP
[April 11, 2002]
Yet, we wake up to another day full of slaughter and pain
And you are not here to give us solace
You have left us alone in the madhouse of the world
Belly-up and bleeding with tears and emotions
Yet, I seek you, Oh God, in this darkness of the world
And sometimes I feel you are nowhere to be found.
I seek to lift the veil between you and me
And I end up being suffocated by more veils.
I belong to a defeated generation, a shy generation;
A generation exposed to too much wind, disease, and change
And we beseech you, Oh God, to understand our plight
Sometimes we feel you are not there to solace us.
Where have you gone while all of this slaughter is going on?
Have you taken a nap?
Or have you decided to send your assistant to deal with the problem
one week too late?
I have traveled Northward and Southward in search of you;
And always thought I found you here in my heart
I presumed I annihilated myself in you and have become you;
But you are nowhere to be found.
I chased you with my full vigor all these years
I changed my identity for you;
I thought I became you;
But it seems that all has been in vain
You are nowhere to be found.
I have been let down by you;
And I am once again wandering in the world
Searching for a new abode.
Since 9/11, I have been struggling to shape a new identity of mine;
The combination Palestinian/Arab/Muslim scores zero on the TOEFL exam
of American Patriotism.
After all of this struggle, how is it possible to stomach failure?
And withdraw to the sidelines of the world;
To the remotest parts of Afghanistan;
In search of solace and union with the departed ones.
Oh Departed Ones,
Farewell to you with your excessive idealism
Farewell to you with your untold stories
Farewell to you with your broken noses
Farewell to you with your wounded spirits
Farewell to you with your hungry stomachs
Farewell to you with your trampled upon graves
Do not forget us
Do not condemn us
Do forgive us
We have failed you
We have spoken behind your back
We have engaged in many trivialities while you sacrificed your
souls for us.
Yesterday, they stormed a huge refugee camp and killed many
And here I stand perplexed, confused, angry, depressed
I find myself in a frenzy; standing still, moving fast with a
Obsessively, fasting to death, praying, and traveling the high
corridors of the world while
Listening to Bob Marley singing loudly in the fields of Jamaica,
and delivering me to my
Solitude with YOU.
They killed the sweetest taste in my heart; they stabbed the
innocence of the world;
Yet, we in this luxurious corner of the world still boast about
material possessions; how
Many books we have written, and how many cars we have bought or
And how much money we have saved for our children’s college, 15
years from now.
Where are you, Oh God, in this spiritual desert?
We beseech you to water our dry arteries with your mercy;
To lift the many veils that have entrapped us;
And free us from this material world
And unite us with the poor, the dispossessed, the humiliated,
and the dead.
Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi’ is a professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Association of Arab-American University Graduates and Institute of Arab Studies
COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group