Blog: Hope in the Face of War
by JulesMarie

No Words to Tell

Double Trouble because of ones DNA....

Date:   5/21/2005 9:49:54 PM   ( 16 y ) ... viewed 1473 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 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

and dna.

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

to kill.

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.

not really.

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

never revealing

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

up shaky

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

looking for



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

felt resentful.

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

bribed with

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

gaza strip.


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

justice, in

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

eyelashes and

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

advertisers are

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



affirm life.

affirm life.

we got to carry each other now.

you are either with life, or against it.

affirm life.


suheir hammad

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Comments (8 of 8):
Website JulesMarie 16 y
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