We are all, by some means, loyal. To someone, to something, to an idea, or a place. We belong by natural disposition to something of our choosing, hence defining and defending our restrictions in case any insurgence should occur. In a civilised world, most of us (I'm looking at you, Kuwait) have passports that tie us to certain cultures despite our unwillingness to adhere to them. We are children of that land, that is the basis of the system. Problematically, however, for citizens of wonderful Arabia, this appears to not be the case. Whatever land you were born on is of no concern, the real concern is "where can we dump you?"
I'm legally Yemeni, as Yemeni as Yemen gets. My passport is navy blue with a hawk or an eagle or whatever that squinty bird in gold is. I speak my dialect fluently, a gift of my culturally-proud parents. I'm even marginally good at Yemeni cuisine, something I never thought I'd need to learn because, well, I'm also Saudi. I'm Saudi in the sense that I was born here, Saudi in the sense that I've lived nearly 25 years here, Saudi in the sense that I'm more familiar with sand than I am with greenery, Saudi in the sense that I have to ask my mother about Yemen when I effortlessly know the littlest of things about life here, in Saudi.
And so, my loyalties are hazy for I love Yemen. I love Yemen, with its poverty and insufficient infrastructure, its perfect weather, divine architecture and otherworldly scenery, its generosity, hospitality, and wonderful food, Yemen has captivated me. But Saudi has always been home, I can navigate through Riyadh (via driver) with incredible ease, even mastering the detour maze where I insistantly fail a simple left turn behind my house in Yemen.
My loyalties are hazy, and have always been dormant, but now they're not. They're tested, tortured. Stretched from extremity to extremity to the point of laceration. Bombed in instalments 1200 air raids so far that set the cities alight. Terrorised every night for the past 2 weeks dusk till dawn. Annihilated. Demolished. Devastated.
It is very easy to point your finger at an Apache, ripping your sky up in half in patronising force. It's even easier to parade that force in a relaxed air of military supremacy, like a lion strutting out in the afternoon to stretch. It's somewhat difficult, though, to lie in the lion's den and cry for it to come back home.
My loyalties take no hue, they're not leather-bound pages of pride. They're words of plea away from rubble, glass, and blood.
I'm a forest that's filled with sadness,
An ocean that feels so blue.
A continent that has cow madness
A man that has gotten the flu
A half eaten donut; a dropped ice cream cone
The shattered cracked screen
of a spanking new phone
A black ugly bruise, a closet of grey,
I'm the lone thread of a dangling fray
I am misery, mind that you don't forget me
I am much stronger than happy could be
Ouch! Stop that! Don't pelt me with pointy rocks-
Painted in colors and covered in frocks!
No! Don't! Get back from that brownie!
Don't crawl into a duvet that's quite downy!
Stop being content! Start feeling bad!
Remember all that you could have had!
Oh phooey, I quite give up on you.
You're arrrghh-ptimistic, oh bleh! Pee-yoo!
I'll go to some other ridiculous child
I'll do my magic and they'll go wild.
Fine, okay! Yes I'm leaving now!
No need to dance and shout and-ow!
Okay! Okay! Hold your galoshes. I'm gone.
But let me leave this door open just a crack.
You never quite know when I might be back.
In complete defiance to rules and gravity I stood on a bench overlooking the ocean and the skies. I turn to my companions staring at my sudden outburst. In a quiet voice I heard the question of my identity; “Who are you?”
I breathed in the clean crisp morning air, my head swimming in jumbled up words that I could not properly articulate until I gathered up my emotions from the ground and put them back into my heart, neatly stacked in my chambers.
“I am the clouds floating so aimlessly over your head, shaped by your imaginations but rarely ever losing its purpose. My core, an unexpected riot of thunderstorms, my build is fluid, and my body takes over the skies.
I am both the ocean and the vapor of wishes unfulfilled but painted across the navy nights. Shades of blue spread both on earth and heaven. In death I am droplets of the ocean, venturing the unknown, and in birth I am a floating embodiment of a daydream.
I am the waves in its rage, and the ocean in its depth and glorious beauty, carrying the treasures of all things lost within me by others, and the serenity of broken hearts and tears poured into me. I am protected and vast with things undiscovered, and colors unidentified and unseen by human eyes, the mystic tails of men too terrified to understand me, but hear my song whenever they are burdened or overjoyed.
I am both sky and ocean.
Two shades of blue relying on each other for vibrancy in which I lie between both in a horizon carrying the warmth of the sun, and the moon’s reflection upon my surfaces. I glow, I sing, I dance, and I beckon you to join me if you can, and once you do
you’ll forget what it was like before me.”
The sands touch the soles of my feet, hips swaying with the breeze, mocking; does that answer your question?
and with the ink of my lost solitude
my lugubrious temper
my furious traits
I write thee
with the plumes of
the gloomiest dooms
I write thee
and with the colour of despair
that had ever since tinged every curve of the bosom
I colour thee
with the fragrants of
the "plaguest" of the plagues
the sediments of bygone years that yearn everlastingly
with all the paradoxes
I mourn me
and I scatter thee upon the grounds of purgatory
though I know
aye, I know
that wind shall contrive against me
and sow your seeds again
upon the land of me
A man walks about
carrying a gate
chanting praise songs;
seeking to stock an open field with fire and sheep
he had seen Signs in his sleep
bingo! in the mind of his sheep
only, reality nullifies his dream
he supposes he holds its key
and his myrmidons, thoroughly afraid
of hell must believe and behave
he forewarns doubters anyway;
he’ll make them into scorpions
into spooky wonkies
into reptiles and have them snacked upon
by three-tongued cerberus, the CEO of hades
he’s soon to see more passers,
more doves, saner people
walk past his door, unscathed by mischief
they'll watch him kicking at the open door
frothing in the mouth, restless, insatiate,
yet none caring if he be a seer/dreamer
or the new town clown out of sync
with the rave of the now – the dance party of change
a frocked man walks with a gate
chanting war songs;
seeking electorates to stock in fire;
fire that’s bound to char his cloak with vex.
I can’t tell you the agony of years
in only a few minutes, but I can show
you: my house is not only stones.
Last night, they arrested my 9 year old boy.
Numbers. My 14 year old son
is in prison on the hunger strike.
We are not numbers.
You only need to look at the half moons
under our eyes, the curved ridges
under our scalloped feet, worn
into moons of stone from bare-footing
this land: what we say is true.
I have split
my hands for 40 years for peace.
You will forget the numbers.
Last night, they arrested my 9 year old boy.
I know what they’re doing to him now
and it’s unspeakable, like the name of God.
In the city of peace, God’s name
will be peace, and I have split
my hands for 40 years
and I bleed peace.
my daughter in law, and she returned
with four missing teeth. Forget
the numbers. She had one injured
eye. Forget the numbers.
My children will bleed
peace, even when they’re gnawed
by the lion’s jaws.
Israel lives in the shadow of the lion,
and that lion is you. You sleep.
We live in waking nightmares.
My daughter in law couldn’t
eat for five months. Forget
the numbers. See this key?
10 generations. We are not.
You don’t know what you do to us
in your sleep. We suffocate
in occupation and we can’t rouse
the lion: the deep slumber of a lion
persists—until it doesn’t.
How many nights have you slept
All this happens under the nose
of the world. Tell me, do you smell
ash here? Do you smell iron?
Do you know the smell of hope?
It’s a putrid stench that will turn
your stomach, but it will purge
us, and these stones will still stand,
God willing, and my children
will stand like stones.
*Israel routinely puts demolition orders on Palestinian homes which causes homelessness, loss of livestock, and loss of livelihood. To date, Israel has demolished over 25,000 homes and 25,000 more homes are currently under demolition orders. Justification for these demolitions include suspected terrorist activity, the construction of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, and the construction of the Separation Wall. This activity is recognized as illegal under international law.