August is the anniversary of the end of the July 2006 Israeli War on Lebanon (known locally as the “July War”). As American warships arrive off the coast yet again, and Israeli jets buzz in the skies yet again (they never stopped), and the commemoration of the end of the July War this year was tarnished by car bombings in the Southern suburbs and Tripoli (the worst since the civil war “ended”), I recall this poem I wrote seven years ago, in an effort to remember a time that even still, wasn’t as seemingly hopeless as now.
O, Destroyer: I realize that it is only 33 days into your War, and you are upset that a deadline be placed on your Destruction, that a moratorium be declared on your cluster bombs, and implosion bombs, and depleted-uranium bunker busters, and missiles of revenge with little girls’ handwriting on them, fired off by gleeful civilians; I realize that 8:00 a.m. looms large for you and you want that last “bang” for your buck, or should I say America’s bucks, the endless dollars that allow you to wage this war on Lebanon, this neverending American war now dated half a century; and before you argue with me on this point, before you even open your mouth to dispute this, let me just say that it might behoove your soldiers to not wear the Stars and Stripes as bandannas while lazing and waiting in southern-border convoy lines: your bloodied standard is thus raised. And I realize that you know that your summer offensive must soon end, and that your land generals and your sea generals and your air generals all want in on the game but honestly, when your devils, sick of sin, have come up with something resembling the nightmare’s end, how can you brazenly ignore your United Nations that feigns asking that you “respect” at least, at the very least, the spirit of this latest of a hundred or so resolutions that name you explicitly? Must you nonetheless continue to lay waste to Sour, to the Beqaa, to the South? Must a 20-count of mega-ton bombs fall on the southern suburbs within the space of two minutes? It was indeed twenty; for I counted them, standing in a doorframe, my building asway as a house of cards might, as the very essence of time seemed stopped, and I cursed you aloud, wondering: Can you perhaps let the city recover between bomb-blasted tremors? There’s a joke: Two chabaab drive out of dahiyeh on a motor scooter, one with his hand making the V for victory sign. A Beiruti asks him: “Is it victory?” and one chaab replies: “No—only two buildings left standing!” Perhaps you think this is funny, or perhaps you are angry that anything is left standing here at all. I beckon you to listen. Do you hear that sound? That’s the girl who plays across the street from me; and that’s her terror-stricken scream upon hearing the sound of your jets flying low overhead. Do you hear that, the sound of dancing, of clapping? That’s the funeral of the Red Cross volunteer you murdered yesterday, and that’s the sound of rice raining down on his white coffin, as it is danced around the streets of his village; and that’s the sound of chanting, of celebrating his life that you snuffed out from far overhead. I urge you to look. Do you see this? This civil defense ad on television explaining how to write one’s name on cloth and tie it to one’s wrist? How odd you must think this ad, so unlike your internal and external efforts, defining and dividing rich from poor, Jew from Christian and Muslim, European Jew from Arab Jew. Do you see this? The veiled women and their families you’ve displaced, walking around their chic new neighborhoods where they’ve been taken in without reservation? How angry you must be that they be given refuge, that they not be turned on by compatriots as you so desired; that they, the very displaced from your former wars here and yet displaced again, live their day to day and wait, like we all wait now, patient in the face of adversity, for you to have your fill and to retreat. Have you had your fill? Is enough now enough? The machine-like precision of your sorties destroying their databased targets, is it enough? The cynical ignorance of even attempting to be concerned for civilian deaths, have you had enough? The Red Cross vehicles, the entire families fleeing your madness, the ambulances, the medical supplies, the funerals of those burying their dead from your forays of the day before, the hospitals, the schools, the orphanages, the eight children of a mother’s lifetime of work. The children. Is it enough now? We are waiting. We have waited a month now. And we have waited before. We wait not for reason, because we know there is none; we wait not for justice, because we know there is none; we wait not for empathy, because we know there is none of that either in your or the world’s words, in your actions, in your lies and in your deceit. We will wait knowing that justice may eventually come but it may not be in this lifetime; we wait knowing that truth may one day come, but perhaps not for us to see; we wait knowing that you could, if you so desired—and we realize that you so desire—be rid of every last one of us, you could destroy every last house in every last village, you could remove every last trace of every last remnant of history here in a land that literally goes back to the dawn of History; you could wipe as you wish and as you will a People off of the very map in the very place that birthed the civilization in whose name you now claim to battle. And should you manage this, accomplish this wanton obliteration, you need to know that the Last Word will be that of the truth tellers, and the Last Word will be that of those silent now with tears, those numbed now with rage, those struck dumb by your monstrousness, those now waiting for you to cease, and to desist, and to stand down; the Last Word will belong to those who wait knowing that your summer rain of vengeance and hate must end; and, like the clouds that hang over Beirut in summer and hug the mountains dark and menacing, your vengeful reign will too dissipate, and be gone, the sun to return; the Last Word will belong to those who wait for your orgy of annihilation to spend itself of its own energy, like a dying dragon; and should we all perish in the process, the Last Word will belong to those who know that it is the very villages you would reduce to piles of stones on the ground, the very soil, the very earth, now saturated with our blood and our tears of sadness and rage, the land soaked in our sweat and marked by our toil, that will resist you in the end. To regenerate. To be born anew. And so we wait. And we resist.
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