Civilizing Mission

M. Shahid Alam

The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production,
by the immensely facilitated means of communication,
draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilization
K. Marx and F. Engels

From get go, this system was built
on carnage. Once capital connected

with power, there was no turning
back. The galleons set sail, guns

blazing at the ports, disembarking
death on the shores of America,

barging into Mocha and Malacca,
and making the return journey,

decks piled with gold and silver,
hulls hoarding cloves and calicoes.

The ships went out again, winged
predators, to the ports of Africa

harvesting her flesh and bones,
African bodies to work a continent,

drained, depleted of native fauna.
The ships still make the round, wide-

bodied, steel-hulled, through air
and water, carrying a new cargo

from ruined lands whose human
detritus is harvested for body parts.

Mahmoud Darwish’s Passing

Darwish_3A year ago, the great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish passed away. At the time, I wrote this obituary for and thought I would share today with PULSE readers.

It is impossible for me to express what I feel about the passing of Mahmoud Darwish. Like many Palestinians, I had grown up reading his poetry in order to express how I feel about whatever significant events happen to Palestinians. I turned to his writings to understand the periods of Palestine’s history that happened before I was born. If ever anyone in history deserved the title of a Poet Laureate, it was indeed Darwish, who spoke the mind of his people in a way I doubt anyone has ever been able to do for any other people. Today, I wake up missing my voice. The real travesty of Darwish’s death is that it revealed to me that he is no longer there to eloquently express to me how I feel about such travesties.

An often underemphasized aspect of Darwish’s life is how he truly lived every single episode of modern Palestinian history, and lived in all the significant locations and periods of Palestinian life. He was born in 1942 in Al-Birweh, Galilee, before the Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine that made him a refugee in Lebanon in 1948. His father decided to return his family to Palestine in 1949, risking murder by Zionist militias that had murdered countless Palestinians who attempted to “escape home”. Somehow, Darwish succeeded in returning, and thus lived the years of his youth as a second-class Israeli citizen. He would then leave to study in the Soviet Union in the early 1970’s, joining the growing Palestinian Diaspora in Europe. His political activism lead to Israel stripping him of his second-class citizenship, and thus returned him to the ranks of Palestinian refugees and the Diaspora. He would then live in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, getting to savor the experience of the homeless Palestinians wandering across the Arab World.

Continue reading “Mahmoud Darwish’s Passing”

A response to “new” politics

by Carol Ann Duffy

How it makes of your face a stone

that aches to weep, of your heart a fist,

clenched or thumping, sweating blood, of your tongue

an iron latch with no door. How it makes of your right hand

a gauntlet, a glove-puppet of the left, of your laugh

a dry leaf blowing in the wind, of your desert island discs

hiss hiss hiss, makes of the words on your lips dice

that can throw no six. How it takes the breath

away, the piss, makes of your kiss a dropped pound coin,

makes of your promises latin, gibberish, feedback, static,

of your hair a wig, of your gait a plankwalk. How it says this –

politics – to your education education education; shouts this –

Politics! – to your health and wealth; how it roars, to your

conscience moral compass truth, POLITICS POLITICS POLITICS.

Suheir Hammad in Palestine: poetry

pal_logoPalestinian-American artist Suheir Hammad, previously featured, is currently appearing at the second Palestine Festival of Literature, which as you may recall the zionist entity has tried to disrupt and shut down.

Thanks to Marcy Newman, who is in attendance and has a great write-up along with audio she’s recorded of Suheir’s always excellent spoken-word performances, we have more of this wonderful poetry as performed in Palestine.

Here are four of Suheir’s poetry readings at the Festival, the first three in English and the fourth short poem mostly in Arabic, as well as a video clip.

Gaza poems (8.23)

Continue reading “Suheir Hammad in Palestine: poetry”

Miles to go before I sleep

Robert Frost

For the past 6 months, I have had to stay up late most nights to work on my thesis, usually until 4 am but sometimes longer. That is because I find it harder to focus before midnight. There is always the temptation of cinema, literature, music or the company of friends, so I always have to remind myself of Frost’s famous response to a similar situation: ‘But I have promises to keep/And miles to go before I sleep’.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

American Football

American Football — by Harold Pinter

It works.
We blew the shit out of them.

We blew the shit right back up their own ass
And out their fucking ears.

It works.
We blew the shit out of them.
They suffocated in their own shit!

Praise the Lord for all good things.

We blew them into fucking shit.
They are eating it.

Praise the Lord for all good things.

We blew their balls into shards of dust,
Into shards of fucking dust.

We did it.

Now I want you to come over here and kiss me on the mouth.

Continue reading “American Football”

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