And here’s to the ones who never give up and
Here’s to the hearts that never have enough of drinking in whatever of life they can
Manage to gulp in between violations, here’s to those of us who survive it
Wasn’t easy but then there’s no such thing as an easy death,
And some of us learn real young to die over and over again each night,
And we learn every morning there’s no angel come to save us from the monster armed
with diet books and scales and lies like shattered glass cradled between
Fingers draped in blood-streaked shock and awe which we have become…
But we have always continued afterwards in the direction of the ocean and the sky,
So here’s to the ones who crawl alive and exhausted out of our very own gravestones and
Label ourselves the monster you have spent your whole life learning how to fear because
We tell the truth and we refuse to let you be.
And here’s to those who continue on afterwards and here’s to the wings that sprout from
our eyelids and to trees in our legs and roots in our feet and every
Time they kill us we insist on coming back 10000fold,
We are rain sea sand and air,
We are every hope and dream you never knew you had to share and
When we speak we sound like mountains weeping or like a new day coming or
Like Wailing Walls or bullets at long last tumbling, falling, slowly, down.
Bombs Falling on Baghdad
Bombs are falling on Baghdad.
150 people just died today, newspapers read.
Whenever I envision this many bodies piled beneath a dull
gray sky I choke.
I choke up, choke silent, I am drowning in an ocean of
Limbs beneath a starless sky and I know
The newspaper headline will read U.S. soldiers found dead.
Popular media considers Iraqi bodies unworthy of mention.
I learned my first year here I am complicit in peddling death, and
the destruction of all I hold dear has walked me
to every UC class since.
I wonder if the reason I have never looked too closely at
the color of gasoline is because I am afraid
What I see might set my heart to burning.
I choke on blood and nails and you are not there with me.
I want to shield you from every broken and damaged thing,
the amorphous you that is this
Campus as well as you who I claim to love but do so only
With selfish words and shattering glimpses of
A future whose coming I fear…
And meanwhile I can barely stand to look at you,
And meanwhile your choices glide rage under my skin and
bitterness tastes like Iraqi blood in my mouth like
activists’ blood like the tears you refuse to offer at the
graves you refuse to visit or even to acknowledge as reality.
Rebecca Scharlach is a poet and writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.
The Rattling of Bones
If I bury my head in books and I clutch my suffering to my
chest in protection or comfort then
Maybe I can pretend I don’t have a heart after all,
This administration claims visitations of dead Iraqis
equates insanity while
A shared vision of a heart-dead brain-stricken president is
Purely rational, as rational in fact as
Everything else we are taught in this structured prison
Stickered smiley faces and rock music pasted like bandaids to
Prevent the blood on our hands from seeping through and
causing permanent stains on clothes purchased with Daddy’s
The price of one-eighth of our souls per shopping trip.
And I can’t go back.
After the LRDP march and rally and ground occupation, after months spent lying
stretched-out in full-body bliss
Sunlight in the middle of a reclaimed parking lot with
Flowers and hope blooming with every step I took,
Raindrops and heartbeats falling in rhythm beneath
Skies I no longer searched every night for nuclear bombs
Hidden amongst the stars I
Swore never to let the faux ivy-league atmosphere of this
Force me again to be anything other than I choose to be.
Thanks to you and others I can
never go back to television and toys and girlfriends who
Never go back to talking about bombs like video games and
Go back to talking about love like it is anything other
Than a force which is already reshaping my vision of the
All of my love poems to you have bombs streaked across
Whoever said love exists in a vacuum lied and
I want to hold them accountable for their broken promises,
Want to birth me or you or
Both of us tumbling head over heels into
A world where the word justice might as well be a verb,
We are going to make the world a just place for one another
Our four hands our two hearts no,
We the people will make the world a just place for one and
Our hearts lit up so brightly blue that nobody,
And I mean nobody,
Could ever put out this flaming world about to dawn.
Bombs are falling in Baghdad,
My heart is a desert of dust and sand but
Even in the desert there are things that can grow.
I am full of a wild aching to be burned not buried.
Someplace to Belong
I wanted a place to belong
A place to call home
A place where nobody would ever find me,
The end of a tunnel carved into a mountain where
Even the voices could never ever reach me, howling out their stern
Commands or pleas for soothing or understanding—
Someplace nobody required anything of me.
Someplace to curl up into a ball and be still and silent for all time if need be.
I wanted a place where even the shadows at night knew my name
Where every single sound was familiar and so dear,
Every animal a recognizable part of the landscape of my dreams.
No feature out of place, not evena piece of hair and
Not a torn piece of clothing in sight,
Like puzzle pieces finally matching up one beside the other for the
First time I wanted perfection and when I did not get it then
I blamed everyone and everything including
Myself but never thought to blame my own damn search for perfection.
I reduce my own vocabulary to swear words and guttural menacing moans when
I think of you words tantalize me with something resembling a positive revenge
Green pastures lie alongside your gravestone in a land I have never yet
Seen I want to see them,
Honeysuckle flowers green fields I recognize from
Old postcards I have been dreaming about Israel since I was seven years old.
Coloring in the Negev sky blue I sat still and fantasized myself an escape route out from
This reality gone away with no long goodbyes myself setting off at a dead run,
I colored the Negev the color of the sky, the color of heaven,
Or am I only imagining that now and would you trust the words that I say to you or
Like him would you brush them aside like moths’ wings or like spiderwebs I
Fling across your eyes solely for the purpose of demanding your demise?
I would have been a good pioneer in another time and place I believe and
How many wonders can one heart-chamber hold I’ve learned humility in my young age,
I still want to go there.
I want to go off and find myself a people a society as bitter prideful enraged protective
of the handprint-shaped wounds time has scarred over but scored into our dreams with
bloody fingertips, wanna watch with eyes that have witnessed entire civilizations rise and
fall as bombs explode over a desert in my name my real one that is,
My parents’ friends planted a tree in Israel when I was born and with each passing day I
wonder again how my heart could survive the destruction of trees I love more than any
college, any building, any barrier or boundary carved into time like oppressions carved
into our reality beneath one or two lines driven into a dictionary like a death knell.
I wanted to hear only of life.
Everywhere I go I look for my past my history and all in vain and
Everybody close holds a gun pressed to her heart and another beneath her pillow when
she sleeps, arm ourselves we might have said but for how long and against whom?
Who do we face when the danger has passed, and at the same time the danger never will?
I was not supposed to survive intact enough to tell this particular tale.
Then others might start getting ideas might
One day wake up and see that if it can happen to me well then maybe
Maybe the night terrors which have long afflicted them too are not the
Ghosts of monstrous events of past lives or the legacy of heritages which
Streak blood across the surface of the realities for which we abandon all control, we strip
away our skin in our grandparents’ names and dig holes into the ground in the hopes of
Digging through to the spring of tomorrow we fear to find buried inside of our own
Strip off the bruises from fingers digging into our hips broken glass slashing across the
Empty expanses of skin across our wrists stomachs swollen with the first meal in five
Days or the fifth meal in one day, I am taught to never express my hate on behalf of me
How do I hate thee? Let me count the days the ways the moments of terror I will relive
for every day of my life.
When They Come for Us
When They Come For Us Jews Again
When some policeman finally calls my name out of the crowd
As I turn to face you I know mine will be the
Blood streaked across your hands following this particular
My pepper-spray tears to match the helplessness that
Flows down your paralyzed frozen
cheeks like hydrogen cyanide streaking
The faces of Nazi gas chamber victims who
Clutched hold of our helplessness like
Buoys as though it might
prove enough to save us from drowning in our own blood,
I want you to come running towards me in a last-minute
Drive towards heroism, I want you to sponge spiky stars
Of gravel off my face and melt away tear gas from my
eyelids, I want to rename our world, revolution.