Friday, January 21, 2011

Small Flames of Words

Poetry is a sword of lightning, ever unsheathed, which consumes the scabbard that would contain it.
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

excerpts from Practicing Loving Kindness
by Lisa Suhair Majaj

Bless the maniac
barreling down the one-way street
the wrong way,
who shakes his fist when I honk.
May he live long enough
to take driving lessons...

Bless the politicians
who both give and receive
bribes and favors.
Bless the constituents
seeking personal gain,
the thieves, the liars, the sharks.
And bless the fools
who make corruption easy.
May they be spared
both wealth and penury.

Bless the soldiers guarding checkpoints
where women labor and give birth
in the dirt. Bless the settlers
swinging clubs into teenager's faces,
the boys shooting boys with bullets
aimed to kill, the men driving bulldozers
that flatten lives to rubble.
May they wake from the dream of power,
drenched in the cold sweat
of understanding. May they learn
the body's frailty, the immensity of the soul...

Bless poetry books that cross oceans
in battered envelopes,
bearing small flames of words.

read the complete poem here


What She Said
by Lisa Suhair Majaj

"They don't have snow days in Palestine,
they have military invasion days."
--International Solidarity Movement activists,
describing the children's lives under Occupation.

She said, go play outside,
but don't throw balls near the soldiers.
When a jeep goes past
keep your eyes on the ground.
And don't pick up stones,
not even for hopscotch. She said,
don't bother the neighbors;
their son was arrested last night.
Hang the laundry, make the beds,
scrub that graffiti off the walls
before the soldiers see it. She said,
there's no money; if your shoes
are too tight, cut the toes off...

read the rest here

Tara has the Poetry Friday round-up today.


Heidi Mordhorst said...

Small flames start big fires.

Diane Mayr said...

"Practicing Loving Kindness" is a stunning poem! I especially like these lines, May they wake from the dream of power,/drenched in the cold sweat/of understanding.

It is my sincerest hope that those in power, or who dream of power, will wake up. We can't afford to believe that these nightmares are dreams.

Mary Lee said...

There are parts of the first poem that are very hard to swallow...but I guess that's what it means to practice loving kindness -- you have to bless the WHOLE of it, not just the parts you love.

And that second poem is making me blush to my roots over my glee about our snow day...

Tabatha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tabatha said...

Well-put, Heidi. I like those lines too, Diane. Mary Lee, no need for embarrassment. It would be wonderful if all kids (and their teachers) could enjoy that kind of simple glee.

Unknown said...

wow. just... wow.

i wish people in power were forced to read and write poetry as a job qualification. if you cannot see the world around you and speak about it artfully, compassionately, it doesn't seem like you can be qualified to be effective in working on another's behalf.

and that goes for the military as well.

thanks for these.

M Pax said...

Wow. Fabulous picks. The first is really for these times. Huh?

Heidi Mordhorst said...

I'm ba-ack--Daisy decided to check out Poetry Friday with me and we found our way to ambigrams! She has already made one for each name in the family. Cool.

Tabatha said...

How cool that Daisy has made ambigrams for your family! That's not an easy thing to do.

Did you see the valentines I posted a few days back? This year Elena is making birds.

Ben Curran said...

These are wonderful. Thanks for sharing a new poet (new to me that is)!

Irene Latham said...

Wow. What inspiring works these are. I need to sit with them for a while, particularly the first one. So many small flames there... will take me a little time to absorb. And I LOVE THAT! So thank you. Wishing you many small flames!!