Gaza, The Desolation
“If history is deprived of the Truth, we are left with
nothing but an idle, unprofitable tale.”
― Polybius, The Rise of the Roman Empire
I protest openly that I do not go over to the Romans
as a deserter of the Israelis, but as a minister from thee.
― Flavius Josephus, The Jewish Wars
The Song from a Shebbabeh flute
A shebbabeh, that ancient flute sings its sorrowful dirge,
The crashing cymbals of aircraft rockets bursting
like Roman candles in the early dawn,
The Palestinian people in that city awake amid the ruins,
And die, crushed by concrete walls
in their sleep,
Sirens wailing is the last sound they will hear,
An arching in the air of pigeons and doves with their
small cries, they will never hear again.
GAH-zə, GAH-zə, GAH-zə!
5,000 years of blood, iron and some periods of peace,
City and people have endured under the ancient sun,
Enjoying their Sumaghiyyeh, coffee and teas,
coffee with cardamom or unsweetened
rose and mint water drinks in the dry summertime,
But during these October days, the coffee bazaars,
the neighborhood cafes are shattered and empty
with broken brass cartridge shells, and the floors
are caked with the blood of the dead.
Slaughter at a Festival of Peace and Love
They came to dance and sing, the Tribe of Nova gathering,
celebrating their Jewish holiday of Sukkot,
The wild groves of eucalyptus trees gleaming bright
in desert sunlight.
Young Israelis and American Jews dancing
to psychedelic music,
were soon to be slaughtered like sacrificial lambs
by the rage of fighters against an endless oppression.
The choreographer of the Greek tragic drama
was the hand-maiden of history,
lifting up her ancient skirt of words and warning
in a merciless desert.
Israelis, young and old dying in the searing heat,
No quarter given those shot like animals
in a caged quarter. No mercy shown by the fighters.
The loud music stopped,
Young beautiful dancers in galaxy leggings,
pranksters, innocent youth, and drunken revelers
dancing rhythmically on expensive Segways, their
psychedelics and hashish drugs thrown asunder
amid the sound of staccato-gun fire,
Cars gutted and burning not too distant
from the seething enclave of Gaza, where revenge
came out like an engulfing earthquake,
Young girls begged the killers not to kill them,
but the combatants grabbed them by their beautiful hair,
and shot them in the head,
turning early October into a shroud of despicable death
Israeli towns and Kibbutzes aflame in a desert horror,
carnage amid an all-night dance party,
The sun gleaming with its indifference upon those
“Ima’le, Ima’le, Ima’le!”
The Destroyed Refugee Camps
and the Desecrated Hospitals in Gaza
The Jabalia camp, a gutted wasteland, is serene
as those who died there by Israeli air strikes,
Their voices were choked by the gurgling of blood
coming out of their mouths that once spoke
of family, friends and their homeland, known to them
Where now deep hollowed-out craters,
blackened shafts, metal debris and slabs of broken concrete
cover their torn, mutilated bodies
in the desert air.
Those hands that once worked in factories, olive groves,
and walked to labor-work near the Erez crossing,
hacked to pieces by shrapnel,
Their faces torn asunder in the night air,
As a poet once said of another period, another epic,
a “Murmur of maternal lamentation”,
But here among the desecrated refugee camps
and children’s hospital,
There is a lamenting of Arab words unspeakable
in the noon-day sun.
The children of Gaza have perished like autumn leaves
soaked among drainage pipes, among blackened walls,
Those who survived cannot even weep
with sunken cheeks and starvation in their eyes,
Gaza, a concentration camp of unspoken horror,
where history is a muted corpse for all time.
The Ruined Olive Groves
Who remembers Bilal Mohammad Saleh?
Who remembers Bilal who was shot to death
by a Jewish settler because he coveted a small plot
Shot in the chest in front of his wife and four children
on that rugged plot of land where he nurtured
his olive trees on the earth of Palestine,
Bilal’s father in the village of al-Sawiya, south of Nablus.
Bilal’s blood drenched among the olive groves.
His uncle, Taiseer Shaheen, saying this about Bilal
“Bilal was a poor hardworking man of the earth,
His whole life he struggled, ever since he was orphaned
at an early age.”
No longer will the people of Ramallah see Bilal selling
sage, thyme, figs and prickly pears
on those bustling city streets of the West Bank.
No longer will Bilal have to endure the cutting down
of the olive trees, the burning of farms, and the stealing
of olive harvests in October.
The Jewish settlers, the whip lash on the back of Palestine,
invisible death camps created by Isarel
amid the ruined olive groves.
Israeli Fighter Jets Roam The Skies
Israeli bombs come down like pounding kettle drums
upon the burning city of Gaza,
A dark movement in a tragic symphony,
Piccolos, anxious violins, screeching clarinets,
and the somber, melancholy songs of an oboe playing
it’s solo dirge out among
the smoldering rubble and the bodies of the Palestinian dead,
flayed and torn to pieces, the children, the old men laying
in the streets with vacant eyes open to the Mediterranean skies.
In a silent world, Goya’s Saturn devours his children,
Drums play their maddening rhythms in the foul air,
Hand in hand the Swastika and the Star of David climb out
of their political lairs.
The Israeli troops like cockroaches cross the borders
Their artillery like the erratic pumping heart bursting
from a decaying, broken body,
And see how their tanks come rumbling along
like endless locusts ravaging the harvest of Palestine,
their havoc upon the land, a torn, battered ship that refuses
to go beneath the endless sea.
The Menorahs Smeared With Blood
Menorahs with candles smeared in blood
blot out the sun.
It is now November, and the images of broken stained glass
litter the streets and villages;
One can see thousands of Palestinians heading into Egypt,
The irony not lost upon the rabbis and modern Pharisees.
Snowflakes where I live clutch the rocks
on the shoreline of Lake Champlain,
Our thoughts speaking to the dead in the cold night wind
as homes, hospitals and urban towers crumble
into soot and ash in Gaza City.
It is impossible not to be careful in these days and months.
Everything is a target for death.
Birds sing their twilight songs in the brooding night,
I think of the Roman historian, Joseph,
who gave thought to how the Jews brought
upon their own ruin in Jerusalem.
Now, the dolphins and fish move in freedom
in cold sunlight, escaping the blood-soaked tyrant,
Netanyahu, his hands like claws clinging,
In desperation, to the song of an ill-fated siren.
I will always remember his bulging, watery eyes,
as he spoke with his mocking words to foreign ambassadors
in bugged corridors in Tel Aviv.
Beware how the lights will dim forever in Tel Aviv,
Beware of Jerusalem burning like a torch,
When obscure Roman legions come.
The Martyrs in Gaza City
The martyrs in Gaza City have sweat out their blood
amid the Nakba,
Sirens ring out their wailing defiance against the invader
with his seven lamps of horror.
I hear in my dreams a call to prayer in Alexandria,
that port city of burning desire and vengeance.
A dry wind moves across old Roman streets,
Text messages, and howls of grief in the desert wind.
I am walking, then running, then stopping
to see the burning ruins before me,
For we are those Palestinians longing for independence
From من النهر إلى البحر, من النهر إلى البحر, من النهر إلى البحر,
From the river to the sea, from the river to the sea,
From the olive groves in Gaza to the fields of Jordan,
These small bits of word-burnt fragments,
Red flags rising above the ashes of the Oslo Accords,
My computer keyboard awash with the blood
of Palestinian, Israeli and Jewish martyrs.
Luis Lázaro Tijerina was born in Salina, Kansas. Mr. Tijerina has a Master of Art degree in history, concentration being military history and diplomacy. He is a published author of military theory, short stories, essays and poetry. Mr. Tijerina resides in Vermont.