another installment from:

A continuing e-mail list of free poetry and prose illustrating the humanity of the situation and
news of the world direct from the eyes and ears of a wandering bard who has been there, or whatever. OK I'm abandoning the idea of attempting to write things that don't contain obscenity or that are designed for publication/ a wider audience. . . so you get this mix of poetry, satire, etc. with something happy about flowers and singing birds at the end.


The tanks and armored bulldozers that rumbled along the Egyptian border,
cutting a line through Rafah,
grinding this colonial borderline wider day by day,
turning half the town into Egypt and the other half into a jailed city
already packed with refugees displaced by the State of Israel in 1948
then displaced again by house demolitions—

The tanks and bulldozers that broke into the neighborhoods
to crunch the houses with their steel blades
or to machine gun anything in sight whether it was made of flesh
or concrete—

The tanks and bulldozers that sat with the vast weight of mortal threats
in the wasteland of raw dirt and concrete wreckage,
spiderweb tangles of rebar reaching out from clumps of debris
and grasping for the sky,
as if they had not come from Israel or America
and were not machines designed by human minds
driven by human hands and commanders’ orders to clear a ‘buffer zone’
along the Egyptian border--
as if instead they were mythic beasts of destruction
and the wasteland in which they sat and moved their natural habitat,
where they were born with a hunger to devour houses and people—

The tanks and bulldozers have gone away,
gone behind the jail wall borders of the Gaza Strip
to wait in some guarded military parking lot,
and the sun smiles down on a man and a boy who drive a donkey cart
through the rubble of a demolished house, collecting scrap metal—

and on my return to this place the sun smiles down
like the calm eye of the hurricane.

* * *


Counting the holes in the house would be a task as endless
as counting the stars.

Small grey and brown birds flit in and out of the holes,
and beneath their nests inside the cinderblock walls
lie the slugs of the bullets
that punctured the first layer of concrete and,
their velocity dimished by this obstacle,
hit the second layer of concrete,
and fell into the hollow insides of the cinder blocks.

All four sides of the house were machine gunned,
not only the side that faces the Egyptian border,
where tanks parked every day,
but also the sides that adjoined the neighboring houses
before they were demolished,
and the side that faces the dirt road and the city of Rafah.
The porch and part of one wall were demolished;
the family has rebuilt the wall but not the porch.

Abu Ahkmed stands in the yard in the sunshine
chipping residual mortar from a stack of cinder blocks
salvaged from the wreckage of another demolished house:
with these he will rebuild the porch
where we sat and drank tea amid the intifada.

The metal cylinder with perforated sides
which contained the fire made of twigs and scraps
and the teapot that held twelve cups of tea
lie in the dirt gathering rust.

The tanks and bulldozers have gone away
to wait in guarded military parking lots,
the house is full of holes
holes and bullets and birds,
the hurricane has not passed,
we only stand now in its calm eye.



Under the counter, beneath the bathroom sinks, two round plastic tubs sit stacked. One is blue, the other green. Unless you know that the tubs are there, or happen to enter the bathroom while someone is washing clothes, you will never discover these tubs, or learn how important they are. . . if you have come from the land of washing machines and dryers, if these twin laundry appliances have always been nearby, in the basement, the utility room, the garage, or the alcove near the back door, as taken-for-granted as the lines in the middle of the road. Should you come this far, should you arrive, by journeying east, west, or south to the other side of the world, eventually it will become necessary to wash your socks and underwear by hand in a green or blue plastic tub, and then to hang them out to dry on a plastic cord that winds through the metal grates over the windows in the outside corridor.

And by doing this, out of necessity and economy, rather than by choice, you join the majority of the world’s people: the hand- washers of few clothes. Thus you are linked to the grandmothers of America, Palestine, Germany, Bolivia, Mozambique, Thailand, and everywhere. Do not overlook the fact that this is in many places traditionally women’s work. However for now consider primarily that it is the work of those who do not have access to household laundry appliances, and that, whether or not you are a woman, it is the work that you must now do with your own hands in the sudsy water, or else you must walk through tommorrow in filthy rags.

And if nobody ever taught you how to wash clothes, because the machine was always there, in the garage or the utility room, and you threw in the laundry, added detergent, and walked away, then this is your initiation and first lesson: because when all the wars and marriages and television drama miniseries and mobile phone text message romances and office jobs are blown away in time’s hurricane, and all the literature has been left out in the rain and melted down to earth, and your young body wrinkles and bends, and the fire in your veins turns to coals, these two shall remain: the story of who you have been, what has happened, what you have made in
the world—and the washing of clothes.

And if by chance or design you pass from the World of Laundry Appliances into the World of Round Plastic Washtubs, then you shall gain the perspective needed to contemplate and attempt to fathom the ultimate precarious vastness and macroeconomic as well as social implications of the electrical grid on a global scale, municipal as well as household water supply, sewer, and gas systems, in addition to the current and future geopolitics of water.

The nature of ignorance is expressed in the assumption that EVERYONE has a washer and dryer, without so much as a passing thought about the origins of the electricity, gas, and water used to operate these machines, or the population and average income of the residents of Mexico City’s impoverished neighborhoods. As the plumber said, if you want to find a leak in the system, follow the pipes. . . out of your house, under the street, to the city water tower, to the reservoir, to the aquifer, to the sewage treatment plant, to the sea, to the leachfield, to the rain, to wind currents that move the clouds, to the river and the desert and the land of round plastic washtubs. Ignorance is not not-knowing: it is having all the information at hand, but not paying attention to it.



There is no coffee and I blame Israel. I do not blame the people of Israel, although most of them have coffee this morning, if they want it, although the electricity to their houses has not been cut, and the utility workers there do not have to wait two months for their paychecks, as they
do here, in Rafah, and no occupying army has, over the past 5 years, blown up or sabotaged extensive parts of their city electric, water, and sewer systems, while selling them electricity and preventing them from building power plants, and no occupying nation is threatening to cut their electricity as punishment for attacks carried out by a militant minority within their society, and no economic strangulation policy prevents them from exporting and importing goods from their land, or going to other places in search of employment, thus impoverishing their society to the extent that they are dependent on foreign aid to provide any electrical
service at all, and whatismore, the United States government is giving them so much money every year that if their goverment had any sense it would provide the people with a few simple luxuries for free, such as minor stimulants in the morning, rather than blowing millions on bullets that just get shot at stuff and usually don’t even kill anyone, but just get smashed against walls—NO NO NO there is NO COFFEE this morning because there is no electricity so the electric burner doesn’t work, just like too many days this week, there is NO COFFEE and I blame Israel, as an idea, as a nation state. It’s not fair and if tomorrow the power is out again and there is NO COFFEE then I will vow to destroy Israel, and continue to work toward this goal until the Israeli government ends the occupation of Palestine and gives everyone here coupons for free breakfast at some swank restaurant in Ashquelon and pays everyone’s cab fare to get there. . . all I want is to fill the metal coffee pot with water and put it on the burner and add 3 spoonfulls of sugar and 3 or 4 heaping spoonfulls of cardamom scented arabic coffee, ground as fine as sander dust, and to wait until it begins to froth and boil, and to stir it with a
spoon until the grounds settle to the bottom of the pot, and to pour the thick brown liquid into a cup and drink it. . . NO NO NO I do not blame the Israeli people that this simple morning habit so vital to my enjoyment and functionality during the first half of the day is unjustly denied,
they are people just like me and the Palestinians here in Rafah, and some of them are also not getting their morning coffee due to circumstances beyond their control, and I sympathize with that, you know there is no problem between the people of the world, we just want our coffee, the problem is between the governments, and it is at them that I direct my withdrawal suffering irritable and drowsy caffeine junky rage.



Seen from an airplane taking off or landing
people shrink down to the size of ants;
meet one face to face and their body is as big as yours;
lie with one, bodies entangled
and your worlds merge.

The ant people get in a thousand tiny service taxis
and go to work if they are lucky enough to have jobs. . .
get in a thousand jet airplanes and fly halfway around the world. . .
fall into a thousand beds and go to sleep. . .

What do the ant people dream of?
Of sex and faraway lands. . .
Of plastic flowers and taxi kitsch
colorful beach towels with tropical scenes
thumbtacked to the ceiling
pimped out plywood and vinyl hearts with recessed swivel lights
up there overhead
when they ride across town trusting their lives to a hired driver
in a stormy sea of traffic mayhem
where there are no lines or lights on the road,
photos of Ahkmed Yassin the Hamas charity leader
assassinated by an Apache missile attack in Gaza
(surely you have seen the pictures of his wrecked wheelchair
amid the burnt waste of the car in which he rode?)
Photos of Ahkmed Yassin stuck to the dashboard
or hanging from the rearview mirror
and big white stuffed dogs holding red hearts
that say I LOVE YOU
lying on the ledge by the rear window. . .

The taxi driver says to the foreigners,
I want to go to America,
his America of hearsay and TV imagination
impossible, moneyrich, uncomplicated by experience. . .

Instant coffee and cigarettes
morning in a maroon leather chair
I am another ant no more, so tiny,
the ant writer says to himself,
I’m almost crazy and alienated enough to be a Great Artist
but fame is a strange thing to seek,
this putting a human life under a microscope
passing someone’s image through colored and magnifying lenses
looking at them in the distorted mirror of our need for mythology
until the famous person’s reputation
becomes separate from the person,
who is an ant climbing a small tree
growing through a crack in the sidewalk,
but their fame is the long shadow of that tree
on a summer evening just before sunset:
you can’t even distinguish the silhouette of the ant,
can you?

The ant people fly in tiny airplanes
shoot tiny missiles at tiny houses which then explode
shoot each other with tiny guns
go out for dinner
talk to each other on yahoo instant messenger
eat eat eat
work work work
fight fight fight
talk talk talk
fuck fuck fuck--
one time I pulled the leg off a grasshopper
and put it down between two anthills
like a cruel god
and this started a war--
the ant people rush into the streets holding signs
calling for an end to some injustice,
rush into other streets and break their neighbors’ windows
by throwing rocks at them,
ant people dream about sex and money and faraway lands
go fishing
hold laughing babies upside down by their feet
build houses on stolen land
read books of crazy poetry
give birth to even more ant people
wash their clothes in round plastic tubs
keep 20 canaries in cages in a closed room
until some of them die
make the biggest bestest meals in the world
force visiting foreigners to eat the meals
until their stomachs burst and they die of hospitality
drink tea drink tea drink tea!!!
The ant people are us
it’s funny!!!

Alone in Manhattan nobody knows you nowhere to sleep
the End of Time waits nearby on a park bench
but you don’t lie down beside it to sleep
just continue walking for fear of cops in the night.
This is how small you are:

Everything you have known and seen, thought and dreamed
your body yourself your story
all your desire, memory, plans, and perception
amounts to one in six million new yorkers
each an ant with their own world and story as big as yours
all you can possibly imagine is one in six billion human beings on earth.

Lost in a crowd on a foreign street
pause to consider the actual size of stars
a thousand times bigger than earth, each one.


everything that ever went wrong is all my fault
I’d sign up to be the scapegoat
if it paid well

even though that ain’t what I set out to find
we had some good times, some bad times
now she done took her body across town
ain’t no use in trying to drag it back
it’s hers it ain’t mine

shit-kicking boots
loud rock and roll on the stereo
bottle of whiskey under the seat
box of tools in the back
do a good job for a fair price
know what I’m doing from experience
will you hire me?

need some new tattoos
some hundred dollar bills
and an understanding lover
with a broken heart and knowledge of hard times

and come out the other side
people say you’re bent outta shape
you just say, I got character
then drink yourself to sleep.



Grey spiral of a land snail
soul under pressure
life, death, fire and ashes
no more a stranger in this foreign land
than in the town where I was born.

Take an idea and pursue it
watch it flash and fall like a meteor—
do you still believe you are on a mission
or do you simply struggle to hold on one more day
as the winds of madness howl
at the windows of your mind?

Things already fell apart
now I’m collecting moments and memories
to decorate my string of days like beads
Write the story on my grave:

I don’t care about my life
only care about my dreams
need a friend to untangle my neurotic shell
and reveal the exploded star inside.

I’m no good at living by my wits
or playing complex social games
gonna go back to the country
sit under an olive tree
until moss grows on my head
sleep beside the fire
get used to an empty bed.
(wild birds singing amid olive trees after the rain when the red poppies
bloom-- these make me happy.)
This is not simply a list of reports documenting human rights violations, protests, or action in Palestine. Obviously, if you read this far. This is one project in my continuing performance of the role of writer and artist within society-- and is indeed nothing less than a series of letters in prose and poetry to my friends, family, and to ALL OF HUMANITY AND ANYONE WHO WILL LISTEN about nothing less than THE MYSTERIOUS EXPERIENCE OF LIFE ON EARTH.
This is my new e-mail: madrone@resist.ca I have closed the old account so anything sent there will bounce back to you.
NEW PHONE: 54 647 8139
I recently had a mobile phone surgically implanted inside my skull and wired directly into my central nervous system. The doctors assured me that there was no risk of brain cancer incurred by the operation, that the scar would be hidden by my hair, and that these days having a stubby antennae protruding from your forehead increases hipness factor and sex appeal. They had to remove a small part of my brain to make room for the phone, but it was the part only used for quiet reflection, introspective meditative thought, ethical decision making, and practical financial
planning, and nobody has time for any of these things in this day and age, so this sacrifice is insignificant when weighed against the fact that I can now pay a phone company to talk to people who are far away while ingnoring people who are right in front of my face. So OK, here is my phone # in Palestine and Israel, where you can reach me from now until late february:

011 972 54 647 8139

That includes international calling code and country code for dialling from the U.S. Bear in mind the difference in time zones.
If you do not want to recieve e-mail from me, please reply and indicate this.
*Anticopyright: all writing sent via this list is anticopyright, free to all, not for profit. PLEASE forward, post, publish, print, copy and otherwise share and pass on anything I send out as you so desire.

OK take care
remember that water is life



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