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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

By Emma Rosenthal

none of us
without
us all
everyone’s story
under the boot
on the edge of town
at the end of the line
behind closed doors
in cattle cars
hidden in alleyways
cast into the wilderness
and shallow graves
underground passages
black site gulags
penal colonies
olvidadxs
desaparacidxs
perdidxs
erasing us
erases you
we are not
the ones who
cannot count

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May4LN-blog480Image of 4 young people, martyrs of the Kent State Massacre

By Emma Rosenthal
(bold text by Neil Young)

“Tin soldiers and Nixon coming
We’re finally on our own
This summer I heard the drumming
Four dead in Ohio.”

Tin soldiers are marching again
bayonets pointed at the multitude
Nicaragua
Vietnam
Grenada
Cambodia
Iraq
Afghanistan
El Salvador
Chile
Kent State
Jackson State

Tin soldiers point their weapons at the tender flesh of the outspoken
there is fear of great numbers marching out of uniform
so the tin soldiers, eyes glazed and without vision
at the command of the generals take aim
point their state of mind
their point of view
the eyes of the state
the words of the state
the will of the state

and

four lives hit the floor
thirteen lives hit the floor
one hundred lives hit the ground
three thousand lives are swallowed by the dust
one hundred lives disappear behind prison walls
two million lives are swallowed by the state
six million lives are burned at the stake
are thrown into ovens
are tossed into ditches
are chained to the gates are lost for the ages
are hidden in attics and temples
are thrust behind the guns
are transformed into tin soldiers
are lulled into passivity
are hiding behind night clubs
this year’s fashions
the evening news that tells you nothing
the elections no one votes in
the television that doesn’t tell you your story
the latest horror movie about government conspiracy

But it’s just a story so don’t worry
it could never happen
someone would say something
and the government would never destroy a whole town
a whole village
just ask the indigenous of the Americas
Mai Lai
Love Canal
Three Mile Island
Santiago
Baghdad
South Central

CIA drug sales while whole generations are thrown into jail
in the war against drugs
unless the drug can fund the war against the rising multitudes
and incarcerate a whole village here at home.

 

“Four dead in Ohio”
“Four dead in Ohio”
“What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground
How could you run when you know?”

Could you watch her tiny form as it fell
could you call to the heavens and pray for her vision
to continue to dwell amongst us
could you watch her spirit as it lingered for a few seconds
as it rose to the clouds and left us forever
four dead
ten dead
hundreds dead
thousands dead
millions dead.

What does the loss of a hundred thousand souls sound like?
What does the loss of a hundred thousand souls feel like?
What wealth have we lost
as the tin soldiers march and mark their territory in the blood of the forgotten?
Where are the paintings?
the stories
the poems
the discoveries
the cures
the embraces
the children running in the streets
playing amongst burned out cars, bombed out buildings
and land mines
that mark the territory and say
don’t walk here
don’t tread on this free soil
it has been apprehended from you
it is no longer a field of grain and sustenance
it is a land of horror and devastation?

“What would you do if you found her dead on the ground?
How could you run when you know?”

And when they catch you in the cross hairs of their high powered rifles
or in the cross hairs of a phone tap and the clicks on the line get louder
or your mail starts arriving already opened for you
or a stack of evidence is piled up against you for a crime you did not commit
for a crime that may not even be a crime

Will you run?

Will you name names? Elia Kazan

Will you rot in jail or twist and turn at the hands of your torturers
at the executioner’s swing of the ax or turn of the knob

Dalton Trumbo
Julius and Ethyl
Sacco and Vanzetti
Ashata Shakur
Mummia Abu Jamal.

Where will you go?

Will you hide out in suburbia?
will you pack you brief case and kiss your vacant wife?
will you pack his vacant brief case with tuna fish sandwiches on white bread
and mayo and cut off the crusts for him
and be his vacant wife?
will you scream about having your own life
but never really get one?
will you cry behind the wheel of the Mercedes Benz
you used to croon about with Janis Joplin
and swear you’d never become what you are today?

Will you sit with your friends and insist that it’s all just too far away
to do any thing about?
and remember her broken body as her red blood
spilled onto the pavement
and left her pale and lifeless
and forget that you ran because it was
too close

It isn’t too far away
it’s right here
it isn’t gone
it hasn’t moved
the tin soldiers are poised and waiting to attack
their eyes are glazed over with the threads of disbelief
with the fog of discontent
with the need to belong
which is like food for the hungry

They are poised and ready
they are in your back yard or the park by your home
what would you do?
she is lying on the ground
will you hurl her into the bushes of your memory?

Will she rot behind the azaleas and the camellias?
will you bury her in peat
and water her daily
and let everyone tell you what at beautiful garden you have
while you forget that she is even there?

Will you fight?
speak your mind against the multitudes of the opiated?
will you raise your voice in protest to the destruction of the sacred
or will you run and hide and pretend you never knew?
pretend it was all about the next top album and sex and who had the best stash
or will you stand still and let them build a monument to the veterans
of the destruction on the graves of those who died
that day many years ago?

 “How could you run when you know?”

How could you stand still over her body
while the guards circled and dug her grave and planted new grass
and erected a monument to their own perpetuity

How could you?

How could you not say something
were the gun pointed at you?
or was the next technological innovation
the next breath you wanted to breath?

Have they lulled you into the conspiracy?
have they taken you hostage behind the picket fence of your imagination?

 “How could you run when you know?”

How could you hide from the destruction all around you
and bury your life in the television of the visionless?

Tin soldiers point their weapons ant the tender flesh of the outspoken
there is fear of great numbers marching out of uniform
so your eyes glaze and are without vision

The command of the generals takes aim
points their state of mind
at your state of mind

Have they lulled you into the conspiracy?

Do you tell your self
it’s just a story so don’t worry?
it could never happen
someone would say something?

 

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As published in Shifting Sands: Jewish Women Confront the Israeli Occupation

By Emma Rosenthal

I:  Year: 1969

Good Germans,” my father muttered as we walked from door to door petition in hand, collecting signatures, working for an end to the war in Vietnam.  Some yelled at us to “go back to Russia!” Others politely said they didn’t want to make waves, cause a problem.

“What do you mean Daddy, how do you know they are German?” I asked, only ten years old, not yet having learned the nuance of ethnicity (these matters must be taught.)

“They aren’t German, Em.”

“Why did you say they were Good Germans?”

“They,” my father explained, “are like the Germans who weren’t Nazis. They did not profit from slave labor, did not serve in the army, were just silent.  Good Germans did not attract the attention of the authorities, pretended not to know, did not worry about the smoke, the stench. Saw Jewish girls, outside the camp, singing on their way to  factory.

“Sieh da! Die Jüdinnen  sind froh.”

(“See! They are happy.”) They whispered.

Years later, claiming: “We had no idea.”

Good Germans;” Jew to Jew, this is not a compliment.

II: Year: 1977

I sit in a hotel lobby in Berlin waiting for my sister to come down from the room.  A day of walking, shopping, museums, the insipid kindness of strangers giving me directions.

Peaceful, calm. Bach, not Wagner playing over the lobby hush, a place for guests, tourists, businessmen. Niceties like a tourniquet around my neck. Every man in the lobby, my father’s age and German.

And I am surrounded.

Some hid Jews, falsified documents, killed one so hundreds could go free; unlikely, but perhaps one of these men was righteous.

In 1977 safety, I am caught in the possibility that perhaps, suddenly, I might find myself in 1942, surrounded.  My Polish skin not sufficiently hiding my history.  My foreign features betraying my identity, ancestry, difference.

The quiet peace of the hotel lobby covers the bones upon which we walk: The lives evaporated, bodies cooked to dust, skin stretched into lampshades, hair woven into rugs, ashes into the soap the Good Germans bathed in to wash away the stench, the soot that coated their nostrils, their skin, their cities, as they breathed in the dead cells of Jews they didn’t know.  The Jewish girls, dancing between the camps and the factory just relieved to be outside for the day.

“See, they are happy.”

III: Year 2000

Intifada! Uprising!

Intifada! Uprising!

Who are the Good Germans now?

Israeli generals admit to studying Nazi strategy against the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the tactics  to bring down the ghetto of Jewish insurrectionists fighting to the death; the suicide missions of desperation by those who had nothing left to lose, holding back the Nazis longer than all of Poland.

I hear of Israeli soldiers marking numbers on the arms of Palestinian prisoners

rounding up all the men

torture

targeting children

house arrest

refugee camps

checkpoints

collective punishment

house demolitions

ex-judicial executions

high officials calling the people “vermin”

“a cancer

not enough chemotherapy”

“transfer”

(the final solution).

And the silence, the complicity.

I have met these people, all of them; the Good Germans and the generals, the soldiers who just want to get through the tour alive so they can get a job when they get out.  The Palestinian families who want to send the children off to school, pick the olives, turn the key in the door to the house that no longer stands in the village that no longer exists beyond the rubble covered in the pine trees planted by collections taken in Diaspora synagogues: the forestation of the desert. The hope of Europe’s refugees: the invisible destruction of a homeland.

This strange apartheid: the mythical connection to a land but not the people.

The imposition of dominion behind the veil of blood and myth.

Oppressed turned oppressor, consciousness obscured by this twist of history, this betrayal of memory, this strange apartheid, fought on the backs of children and the bellies of women.  An intricate labyrinth of  false distinctions,  of exclusive roads, checkpoints and confiscations.

Hidden by tanks, barricades, checkpoints and armor, we think we are different.

Guns poised, sights set on the image,

We look in the mirror: the distorted likeness.

Or are we the image shooting the reflection?

This is no ancient mythic battle.

No walls of Jerico.

No Midianite virgins

No skin of wine nor loaf of bread.

Just perhaps the two sons, Isaac and Ishmael sacrificed by the father, reunited upon his death

And the women, Sarah and Hagar, pitched  in voiceless struggle,  breast against breast

For land, bread, water and wombs.

Parched throats seek a hidden well. Tired hands plow a field from bitter dirt.  Oranges and olives provide a defiant harvest .

And I know this is not my home

and

it is not my war

and

if it were my war

I could not fight!

The land is not for sale or plunder.  Nothing can be gained from hegemony.  In this betrayal of our history, killing them is killing me.

We have broken the mirror of our own souls and we have broken it upon their backs.

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The newly released book, Shifting Sands, Jewish American Women Confront the Occupation, edited by Osie Adelfang, with forwards by Amira Hass and Cindy Sheehan, and contributions from Cafe Intifada’s Emma Rosenthal as well as: Hanna Mermelstein,  Tomi Laine Clark, Starhawk, Alice Rothchild, Hedy Epstein,  Sandra Butler, Kim Goldberg, Maia Ettinger, Anna Baltzar, Linda Dittmar and Susan Greene, isnow available from Cafe Intifada.

Available from Cafe Intifada, by appointment, or at tabled events.  or by mail order.

Print the order form: https://cafeintifada.wordpress.com/cafe-intifada-shoppe-available-now-shifting-sands-jewish-american-women-confront-the-israeli-occupation/

For booksellers interested in purchasing bulk orders, contact the publisher at Whole World Press: http://www.wholeworldpress.org/WholeWorldPress/Bulk_Orders.html

To arrange for book signing with some of the contributors or to arrange purchase, contact Andy Griggs at 310-704-3217 or cafeintifada@earthlink.net

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By Emma Rosenthal
Posted on the 40th anniversary of the Kent State Massacre.  Written on the 30th anniversary of the massacre.  On a campus that was 5% Jewish.  75% of the students killed, and 50% of the students who were shot, were Jewish– no word from the ADL.  (bold text by Neil Young)

 

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming

We’re finally on our own

This summer I heard the drumming

Four dead in Ohio.” 

Tin soldiers are marching again

bayonets pointed at the multitude

  Nicaragua

  Vietnam

  Grenada

  Cambodia

  Iraq

  Afghanistan

  El Salvador

  Chile

Palestine

Kent State

Jackson State
Tin soldiers point their weapons at the tender flesh of the outspoken

there is fear of great numbers marching out of uniform

so the tin soldiers, eyes glazed and without vision

at the command of the generals take aim

point their state of mind

their point of view

the eyes of the state

the words of the state

the will of the state

and

four lives hit the floor

thirteen lives hit the floor

one hundred lives hit the ground

three thousand lives are swallowed by the dust

one hundred lives disappear behind prison walls

two million lives are swallowed by the state

six million lives are burned at the stake

are thrown into ovens

are tossed into ditches

are chained to the gates are lost for the ages

are hidden in attics and temples

are thrust behind the guns

are transformed into tin soldiers

are lulled into passivity

are hiding behind night clubs

this year’s fashions

the evening news that tells you nothing

the elections no one votes in

the television that doesn’t tell you your story

the latest horror movie about government conspiracy

But it’s just a story so don’t worry

it could never happen

someone would say something

and the government would never destroy a whole town

a whole village

just ask the indigenous of the Americas

Mai Lai

Love Canal

Three Mile Island

Santiago

Baghdad

South Central

CIA drug sales while whole generations are thrown into jail

in the war against drugs

unless the drug can fund the war against the rising multitudes

and incarcerate a whole village here at home.


“Four dead in Ohio”

“Four dead in Ohio” 

“What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground

How could you run when you know?”

  Could you watch her tiny form as it fell

  could you call to the heavens and pray for her vision

  to continue to dwell amongst us

  could you watch her spirit as it lingered for a few seconds

  as it rose to the clouds and left us forever

  four dead

  ten dead

  hundreds dead

thousands dead

millions dead.

What does the loss of a hundred  thousand souls sound like?

What does the loss of a hundred thousand souls feel like?

What wealth have we lost

as the tin soldiers march and mark their territory in the blood of the forgotten?

Where are the paintings?

the stories

the poems

the discoveries

the cures

the embraces

the children running in the streets

playing among burned out cars, bombed out buildings

and land mines

that mark the territory and say

don’t walk here

don’t tread on this free soil

it has been apprehended from you

it is no longer a field of grain and sustenance

it is a land of horror and devastation?

“What would you do if you found her dead on the ground?

How could you run when you know?”

And when they catch you in the cross hairs of their high powered rifles

or in the cross hairs of a phone tap and the clicks on the line get louder

or your mail starts arriving already opened for you

or a stack of evidence is piled 

up against you for a crime you did not commit

for a crime that may not even be a crime

Will you run?

Will you name names?

like Elia Kazan

Will you rot in jail or twist and turn at the hands of your torturers

 at the executioner’s s

wing of the ax or turn of the knob

Dalton Trumbo

Julius and Ethyl

Sacco and Vanzetti

Ashata Shakur

Mummia Abu J

amal.

Where will you go?

Will you hide out in suburbia?

will you pack you brief case and kiss your vacant wife?

will you pack his vacant brief case with tuna fish sandwiches on white bread

and mayo and cut off the crusts for him

and be his vacant wife?

will you scream about having your own life

but never really get one?

will you cry behind the wheel of the Mercedes Benz

you used to croon about with Janis Joplin

and swear you’d never become what you are today?

Will you sit with your friends and insist that it’s all just too far away

to do any thing about?

and remember her broken body as her red blood

spilled onto the pavement

and left her pale and lifeless

and forget that you ran because it was

too close

It isn’t too far away

it’s right here

it isn’t gone

it hasn’t moved

the tin soldiers are poised and waiting to attack

their eyes are glazed over with the threads of disbelief

with the fog of discontent

with the need to belong

which is like food for the hungry

They are poised and ready

they are in your back yard or the park by your home

what would you do?

she is lying on the ground

will you hurl her into the bushes of your memory?

Will she rot behind the azaleas and the camellias?

will you bury her in peat

and water her daily

and let everyone tell you what at beautiful garden you have

while you forget that she is even there?

Will you fight?

speak your mind against the multitudes of the opiated?

will you raise your voice in protest to the destruction of the sacred

or will you run and hide and pretend you never knew?

pretend it was all about the next top album and sex and who had the best stash

or will you stand still and let them build a monument to the veterans

of the destruction on the graves of those who died

that day many years ago?

 

“How could you run when you know?”

How could you stand still over her body

while the guards circled and dug her grave and planted new grass

and erected a monument to their own perpetuity

How could you?

How could you not say something

were the gun pointed at you?

or was the next technological innovation

the next breath you wanted to breath?

Have they lulled you into the conspiracy?

have they taken you hostage behind the picket fence of your imagination?

 

“How could you run when you know?” 

How could you hide from the destruction all around you

and bury your life in the television of the visionless?

Tin soldiers point their weapons ant the tender flesh of the outspoken

there is fear of great numbers marching out of uniform

so your eyes glaze and are without vision

The command of the generals takes aim

points their state of mind

at your state of mind

Have they lulled you into the conspiracy?

Do you tell your self

it’s just a story so don’t worry?

it could never happen

someone would say something?

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Written  on March, 19, 2003 as the first bombs drop on Iraq this century.  

By Emma Rosenthal

i can kill the mirror of my own likeness if i do not recognize myself

i can kill you if i do not know that killing you is killing you

i can kill you if i believe you kill me

i can kill you if i have been shattered

i can kill you if i love the sound of shattered glass

i can kill you if i want your death more than i want my life

i can kill you if i think the general is part of me

i can kill you if i love the flag more than the blood that soaks it

i can kill you if  red hands walk down cat walk runways

i can kill you for greed

i can kill you for fashion

i can kill you for land

i can kill you if i have no memory

i can kill you if memory tells me to

i can kill you if i abhor the womb

i can kill you if i despise the breast

i can kill you if the phallus is a weapon

i can kill  you if your children scare me and i wage a war against youth

i can kill you if i hate music

i can kill you if that song keeps playing in my head

i can kill you if the general sings lullabies to me while i sleep

while the general wages war against me

i can kill you if i believe the war is waged for me

i can kill you for privilege

i can kill you for expedience

 i can kill you for luxury

i can kill you if i forget that killing you is killing me

i cannot kill you for truth or hope

i cannot kill you if i know who i see in the mirror

i cannot kill you if i love the womb

i cannot kill you if milk issues from my breasts

i cannot kill you if i know the phallus brings the possibility of life

through the tightness of connection

i cannot kill you if i love windy days on open cliffs

i cannot kill you if the songs of birds wake me before the generals lull me to sleep

i cannot kill you if my skin wakes up electric

i cannot kill you if i have been taught to think

i cannot kill you if i see you when i look in the mirror

i cannot kill you if your name dances in my mind

i cannot kill you if i dance naked in the rain

i cannot kill you if i see you naked and i love your wounds

i cannot kill you if the tides tell the time and the moon lights the night

i cannot kill you if i live on this rock in space and i know we live together

i cannot kill you if our words touch

i cannot kill you if i know you bleed

i cannot kill you if i hear your voice

i cannot kill you if i hear your prayers and chant them with you

i cannot kill you if i know your innocence

i cannot kill you if i see your children resting in your arms

i cannot kill you if i love the general and call him home

i cannot kill you if there is a river in my heart

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Jewish-American Women Speak Out Against the Occupation

Whole World Press

Spring 2010

Edited by Osie Gabriel Adelfang

with an introduction by Cindy Sheehan and a forward by Amira Hass

Including contributions from:

Anna Baltzar

Maia Ettinger

Susan Greene

Linda Dittmar

Osie Gabriel Adelfang

Hannah Mermelstein

Tomi Laine Clark

Starhawk

Alice Rothchild

Jen Marlowe

Hedy Epstein

Kim Goldberg

Sandra Butler

Emma Rosenthal

On facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shifting-Sands-Jewish-American-Women-Speak-Out-Against-the-Occupation/117315474206?ref=ts

On the web:  http://www.osieonline.com/Home_Page.html

 

“I applaud Osie Gabriel Adelfang and all those who contributed essays to Shifting Sands. Jews, and in particular Jewish women, are the natural force to be in the forefront of the efforts to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, lives and future. From the opening pages about a Jewish prayer on doubt, through each and every one of the personal accounts, readers feel the wisdom of women on every page, as well as a deep sense of love for humanity—all humanity. Shifting Sands meticulously weaves the daily trials and tribulations of a military occupation with stories of real people who are dispossessed and subjected to daily doses of ethnic cleansing by a state drunk on power. Bottom line: the sands are truly shifting and this occupation is coming tumbling down, like all the other that came before it. When all is said and done, the women in this book—side by side with Palestinian women from Gaza, Jerusalem and Nablus—will form the foundation of a new Palestine and Israel that will flourish as one.”

Sam Bahour, Co-Editor of Homeland: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians, and Palestinian-American businessman in El-Bireh, occupied Palestine
August 17, 2009

“This is a moving collection of readings by Jewish women writers who are committed to the quest for justice and compassion in Palestine and Israel. They powerfully articulate, in their different ways, the axiom of our common humanity. It may have taken our whole life to reach that place (as one contributor put it), but those who are finally able to see, must stand up and advocate for sanity now, today.”

Deb Reich, translator, Abu Ghosh, Israel/Palestine

“Writing with personal modesty yet great humanity, these courageous women offer richly textured, revelatory accounts that will grip the reader’s thoughts and feelings. All the selections are finely rendered, insightful, and endowed with a determined sense of justice and compassion.”


Michael Parenti, author of Contrary Notions
and God and His Demons

 

 

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