Over the past year there has been a lot of incredible and newsworthy stories that have happened across this globe of ours: the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the death of Osama bin Laden, and the WikiLeaks saga. But really one of the biggest stories of 2011 will be the Middle East revolutions. In country after country protesters and average citizens began to protest against their own governments in hopes of enacting real socio and economic change. Of course, the world has seen these types of protests and revolutions before. In Soviet Russia. In Tiananmen Square in China. Even in the United States back in the late 1960s. The outcomes were completely different in each case. But many times protesters around the globe have found that the devil they know is better then the devil they don’t know, which ultimately is bad for the entire human family.
Real change on this earth of ours is hard to come by. Humans are all marked by the same weaknesses, the same inadequacies, and the same bone-crashing desire for power, fame, and even for infamy. Some things in the Middle East will change. Other things won’t change at all or will get worse.
In my latest collection of poetry I’ve tried to document what has been going on and what might happen as well. The following two poems try to shed light on the revolutions happening in the Middle East, as I wrote both of them right when the protests were actually taking place.
Imprisoned By Our Own Heritage (دبكة)
Soldier, shhhh! listen, you come from a fertile country full of song,
mountainous and ridiculous, luxuriant valleys where the Arabian
mare still runs free, their wedge-shaped heads wildly belligerent,
the jibbah between their eyes bulging from their swelling pride,
in brick and mortar you can see the sonic quality of the poor that you know,
young men and women in bright red grab, waving flags, protesting in the
street who are more true poets than any lines on a page,
above you darkness, swords poised and ready,
below you dust and clay, gentle yellow flowers breathing beneath
a land that needs watering, shade from the heat, a gentle hue of blue
over where you can live in peace;
Soldier, shhhh! listen, what will you do?
fire orange-red shots across the plague filled streets at your brother?
at your sister? at your mother? at your father? at your lover? at your child?
at your friends?
Dabke (دبكة), tiptoe, hide in the margins of the fear that you must face
headlong, thoughts that will make you labor, monsters that will
become your new enemy when you become the savior-enemy of
here is a corpse; here is a river; here is the impervious blue sky;
Soldier, listen, shhhh! here is freedom;
what will you do?
The Days of Rage (أيام الغضب)
From Tunisia, the grievances of men
spilled out over into the streets—Egypt,
Jordan, Libya, Yemen, Syria—all those glittering
keys locked in the palace window,
free speech, law and order, a final end
to all the abuse and torture;
blood is being spilled now, and shots are being fired,
the end of the game never ends well this way,
one nightmare dying, another nightmare as it
is unfolding before our very eyes.
Jéanpaul Ferro’s ‘Jazz‘ is out now, priced £6.99 / $10.99.