Painted Trees for Palestine in Oakland

This morning, I woke up and decided to start writing again. After a summer filled with words, with chaos, with death that simultaneously felt nearby and galaxies away, I left Israel-Palestine for familiar-unfamiliar shores: after stopping in Ohio for some weeks, my partner and I arrived in Berkeley yesterday, where we will be for the next month and a half (she’ll be doing a fellowship at the Hastings Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, and I will be writing, speaking, performing and bopping around (I’ll post an complete schedule of public speaking gigs and poetry performances early-mid next week)). The silence of the last few weeks was glorious, painful and comfortable, a dull distance, easier breaths. Last Monday, a siren went off and as it wailed I felt my chest clench and my breath shorten and my location dislocate, for some milliseconds until I remembered that every first Monday of the month in Yellow Springs, Ohio at 10:00 AM, they test the tornado siren. 

So back to writing, I decided. But my fingers felt rusty, stiff. What should I write about? My words grow strongest when planted in the soil of stories, of what I see and hear and feel. And then, I was taken by my Aunt, who is graciously hosting us, to see a new set of murals in Oakland, painted by nine different artists, in solidarity with Palestine. They were beautiful. Some spoke to me more, others less, but seeing them helped me decide that instead of trying to force words, here too I can let them grow, in reaction to pictures I took of three of the murals, in short poem-lines, letting the force of art-for-justice force the cap off of my pen, so to speak. 

by Nidal El-Khairy
by Palestinian artist Nidal El-Khairy

On this land, there is that which deserves

looking towards,

looking up to,


by Jewish-American artist Susan Green
by Jewish-American artist Susan Green

We do what we do (those many who do)

In hope that joy will cuddle together

like a lightful cluster of homes and trees

In hope that we can swing 

about something else


by Native American artist IROT
by Native American artist IROT

Meanwhile the jaggedness

can’t be forgot.