The HyperTexts

Poems for Gaza Children
Gazan Poetry Written by Palestinian Children
Poems of the NAKBA: the Holocaust of the Children of Palestine and their Mothers, Fathers, Families and Friends

This page contains poems written for the children of Gaza, along with poems written by Palestinian children. We dedicate this page to the children of Gaza and their families; they are unconvicted inmates of the world's largest walled ghetto and prison. Refugees of Israel's relentless home demolitions, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, they have been denied basic human rights, dignity, freedom and justice for more than sixty years. Nor should we ever forget the Palestinian children who live under a brutal, racist military occupation in the West Bank that is funded by American taxpayer dollars.―Michael R. Burch, an editor of Holocaust and Nakba poetry

We are pleased to be a sponsor of Voice of Gaza,
a school for gifted Palestinian writers who live in Gaza.
We hope you will donate to this very worthy cause
by clicking the hyperlinked name of the school.


We call on everyone who believes in equality and justice for all people to support the Palestinian people in their quest to obtain equality and justice.

Related pages: Nakba Poems, Gaza Poems, Holocaust Poems, Darfur Poems, Haiti Poems, Hiroshima Poems, 9-11 Poems, Trail of Tears Poems, Sandy Hook Poems, Aurora Poetry, Columbine Poems



Our prayers are with the children of Gaza who suffered and died during Israel's Operation "Cast Lead" and Operation "Pillar of Fire" (also known euphemistically as "Pillar of Clouds" and "Pillar of Defense"). I was communicating with a young Gazan girl during the early stages of Operation "Pillar of Fire" and she became so terrified of the thunderous explosions that she was unable to speak. Israel's "Pillar of Fire" left Gaza in flames, and many babies and children charred corpses. Now Israel's latest offensive, dubbed Operation "Protective Edge" or "Defensive Edge," threatens Gaza with more collective punishment, carnage, suffering and death. More than half of Gaza's 1.8 million residents are children, so military operations there are bound to end in the deaths of innocents.

A very moving poem by Rafah-born Palestinian poet Khaled Juma:

Oh rascal children of Gaza.
You who constantly disturbed me with your screams under my window.
You who filled every morning with rush and chaos.
You who broke my vase and stole the lonely flower on my balcony.
Come back, and scream as you want and break all the vases.
Steal all the flowers.
Come back…
Just come back…
―Khaled Juma

I, too, have a dream ...
that one day Jews and Christians
will see me as I am:
a small child, lonely and afraid,
staring down the barrels of their big bazookas,
knowing I did nothing
to deserve their enmity.
―The Child Poets of Gaza

Christians may want to consider the ethical questions What does the Bible say? What would Jesus do? Would Jesus Christ have endorsed racism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing when the victims include millions of women and children in Gaza, the Occupied Territories and refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and other Middle Eastern nations?



Epitaph for a Child of Gaza
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.

Whatever
by Kholoud Saeed, a 16-year-old Gazan poet

Whatever
It was a life or a death
It was a part or a link
It was darkness or a glint
But ... what's the most important thing?!
Whatever
He was a man or a child
He was brave or just ready to fight
He was a black bullet or the sun of the twilight
So ... what we are seeking to hide?!
Whatever
It was the beginning or the end
It was killing or a hint
It was assistance or a killer fist
So ... why we are on the terrorist list?!
Whatever
It was a light or a flame
It was a dream or a nightmare
It was peace or fear
What if we really don't care?!

Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Gaza

Frail envelope of flesh,
lying cold on the surgeon’s table
with anguished eyes
like your mother’s eyes
and a heartbeat weak, unstable ...

Frail crucible of dust,
brief flower come to this—
your tiny hand
in your mother’s hand
for a last bewildered kiss ...

Brief mayfly of a child,
to live two artless years!
Now your mother’s lips
seal up your lips
from the Deluge of her tears ...

If you are unfamiliar with the real history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, or have been told that Israel is "only defending itself," please read Albert Einstein's 1948 letter to the New York Times, then click your browser's "back" button to return to this page. If you want to understand how the theft of Palestinian land relates to Israel's military offensives against Gaza, please click here Amud Annan "Pillar of Fire." If you want to hear the opinion of the former U.S. president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who negotiated peace talks between Israel and Palestinians, please click here Jimmy Carter: "Israeli policy is to confiscate Palestinian territory." You may also want to read and consider Israeli Prime Ministers who were Terrorists and Does Israel Really Want Peace?

I'm Your Child
by Israa Thiab

I want to live, I want to love
If you let me dear sir
I want to play, I want to learn
Look at me, I know you care

Look at me... For I'm flesh as much as you are
for I have a heart... I laugh... I cry
Look at me dear sir, look into my eyes I dare you
and tell me how I deserve to die

I'm not a chess piece, I'm a child
I'm not a number, I'm a child
I'm not a lab rat, I'm a child
Look at me dear sir ... I'm YOUR child

Israa Thiab is a Palestinian refugee by birth, holding Jordanian nationality. She was born to a political activist father, and is adamant that she will continue to fight her father's fight against injustice and oppression not only for Palestinians but on a global level.



Gaza
by Olfa Drid

shelling
shelling
shelling
barren land,
fruitless trees,
wingless birds,
eclipsed sun,
miniscule corpses,
entombed hopes,
decapitated present,
castrated future
death ghost
death's specter
&
global silence…



The oppressed can but pursue suitable tracks
Learning to heed the lessons of awesome war
But will the mighty listen to reason’s voice
That justice will accomplish the peace of Rome?
Or will conscience’s dictates be inexorably ignored
As war’s clouds hover over culture’s great cradle?
And yet we do not harbor the odium of hatred
But pray that peace can still be humanity’s finest hour . . .
―Khaled Nusseibeh



Distant light
by Walid Khazindar, a poet born in Gaza City
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Bitterly cold,
winter clings to the naked trees.
If only you would free
the bright sparrows
from the tips of your fingers
and release a smile—that shy, tentative smile—
from the imprisoned anguish I see.
Sing! Can we not sing
as if we were warm, hand-in-hand,
shielded by shade from a glaring sun?
Can you not always remain this way,
stoking the fire, more beautiful than necessary, and silent?
Darkness increases; we must remain vigilant
and this distant light is our only consolation—
this imperiled flame, which from the beginning
has been flickering,
in danger of going out.
Come to me, closer and closer.
I don't want to be able to tell my hand from yours.
And let's stay awake, lest the snow smother us.

Walid Khazindar was born in 1950 in Gaza City. He is considered one of the best Palestinian poets; his poetry has been said to be "characterized by metaphoric originality and a novel thematic approach unprecedented in Arabic poetry." He was awarded the first Palestine Prize for Poetry in 1997.



My nightmare ...

I had a dream of Jesus!
Mama, his eyes were so kind!
But behind him I saw a billion Christians
hissing "You're nothing!," so blind.
―The Child Poets of Gaza

Poems by Michael R. Burch translated into Arabic by the Palestinian poet Iqbal Tamimi

مقتطفات من أشعار مايكل آر برتش محرر مجلة الهايبر تيكستس للشعر ترجمتها ل لعربية الشاعرة الفلسط ينية إقبال التميمي

Autumn Conundrum

لغز ال خريف
ليس الأمر أن كل ورقة يجب أن تقع قي نهاية المطاف
إنه مجرد أننا لن نستطيع أبدا ً التقاطها جميعاً

It's not that every leaf must finally fall,
it's just that we can never catch them all.

Piercing the Shell

اخترا ق القشرة
لو خلعنا جميع واقيات ال حرب
ربما سنكتشف سبب وجود ال قلب>

If we strip away all the accouterments of war,
perhaps we'll discover what the heart is for.

Epitaph for a Palestine child

مرثية ل طفل فلسطيني
عشت قدر استطاعتي، وبعد ها متّ
إحذر أين تخطّـو: فالقب ر واسع

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.

For a Child of Gaza, with Butterflies
by Michael R. Burch

Where does the butterfly go
when lightning rails
when thunder howls
when hailstones scream
while winter scowls
and nights compound dark frosts with snow?
Where does the butterfly go?

Where does the rose hide its bloom
when night descends oblique and chill
beyond the capacity of moonlight to fill?
When the only relief's a banked fire's glow,
where does the butterfly go?

And where shall the spirit flee
when life is harsh, too harsh to face,
and hope is lost without a trace?
Oh, when the light of life runs low,
where does the butterfly go?



Ahmad Al-Za’tar
by Mahmoud Darwish
translated by Tania Nasir

For two hands, of stone and of thyme
I dedicate this song. For Ahmad, forgotten between two butterflies
The clouds are gone and have left me homeless, and
The mountains have flung their mantles and concealed me
From the oozing old wound to the contours of the land I descend, and
The year marked the separation of the sea from the cities of ash, and
I was alone
Again alone
O alone? And Ahmad
Between two bullets was the exile of the sea
A camp grows and gives birth to fighters and to thyme
And an arm becomes strong in forgetfulness
Memory comes from trains that have left and
Platforms that are empty of welcome and of jasmine
In cars, in the landscape of the sea, in the intimate nights of prison cells
In quick liaisons and in the search for truth was
The discovery of self
In every thing, Ahmad found his opposite
For twenty years he was asking
For twenty years he was wandering
For twenty years, and for moments only, his mother gave him birth
In a vessel of banana leaves
And departed
He seeks an identity and is struck by the volcano
The clouds are gone and have left me homeless, and
The mountains have flung their mantles and concealed me
I am Ahmad the Arab, he said
I am the bullets, the oranges and the memory



The Deluge and the Tree
by Fadwa Tuqan

When the hurricane swirled and spread its deluge
of dark evil
onto the good green land
'they' gloated. The western skies
reverberated with joyous accounts:
"The Tree has fallen !
The great trunk is smashed! The hurricane leaves no life in the Tree!"

Had the Tree really fallen?
Never! Not with our red streams flowing forever,
not while the wine of our thorn limbs
fed the thirsty roots,
Arab roots alive
tunneling deep, deep, into the land!

When the Tree rises up, the branches
shall flourish green and fresh in the sun
the laughter of the Tree shall leaf
beneath the sun
and birds shall return
Undoubtedly, the birds shall return.
The birds shall return.



Look at me
by Nahida Izzat

Look at me
I would love to write poetry about love,
Paint rainbows and butterflies,
Smell the scent of pink rose buds,
And dance;
Dance with the melody of jubilant bluebirds

I would love to close my eyes and see children smiling
No guns pointing at their heads
Tell them stories of lily-like fairies in far-away lands
Not of bullets shrieking . . . of missiles exploding
But
How can I?

There is a dagger in my heart
I am hurting
Hurting
I bleed,
I cringe
I cry

HUMANITY, WHERE ARE YOU?
I am being slaughtered
Under your watchful eyes
I am cold . . . cold . . . cold
I cringe
I cry

Humanity, where are you?
Why do you turn your face away?
Why do you keep looking the other way?
I am here
Languishing
In Gaza's alleyways
Humanity, where are you?
Look at me
See me

I am here
Sighing
In Gaza's alleyways
I cringe
I cry

Humanity,
Enough turning the other way !
Turning a deaf ear
Turning a blind eye
While I,
and oh ! my poor children
Die



Armed with a prayer
by Iqbal Tamimi

Once upon a crime,
the night
hijacked the face of my homeland.
The next day,
the spring was pronounced dead.
My blood
lost its way rivuletting through sand.
I was not courageous enough
to declare
the theft of my skin;
It was stretched by loathsome hands
to create a new face for an old drum.
There . . .
sat my anxiety  
on the banks of pain,
washing my punctured voice,
asking me
how would I . . .
fish for my poem’s crumbs in a mine field?
What could I say?
For . . .
I had lost the dawn in the market,
my mouth was stuffed
with the sweat of my exile,
nothing of me remained
but
my few half-living fingers
exhuming the guts of lines,
a nose . . .
striving hard to find its way home,
and a pair of eyes,
that looked but could not see
any
of the absent loved ones,
who used to be there for me.
My pulse was swinging,
documenting my name,
alongside others hanging
on the verge of plight.
My loaf was naked.
I was armed only with a prayer.
A child beneath the rubble
Screamed, calling my name
Mama . . . Please . . .
tell them not to execute my kite.



Suffer the Little Children
by Nakba

I saw the carnage . . . saw girls' dreaming heads
blown to red atoms, and their dreams with them . . .

saw babies liquefied in burning beds
as, horrified, I heard their murderers’ phlegm . . .

I saw my mother stitch my shroud’s black hem,
for in that moment I was one of them . . .

I saw our Father’s eyes grow hard and bleak
to see frail roses severed at the stem . . .

How could I fail to speak?



I Pray Tonight
by Michael R. Burch

for the children of Gaza
and their mothers


I pray tonight
the starry Light
might
surround you.

I pray
by day
that, come what may,
no dark thing confound you.

I pray ere tomorrow
an end to your sorrow.
May angels' white chorales
sing, and astound you.



Something
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Gaza

Something inescapable is lost—
lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight,
vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars
immeasurable and void.

Something uncapturable is gone—
gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn,
scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass
and remembrance.

Something unforgettable is past—
blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less,
and finality has swept into a corner where it lies
in dust and cobwebs and silence.

Mother’s Smile
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers of Gaza
and their children


There never was a fonder smile
than mother’s smile, no softer touch
than mother’s touch. So sleep awhile
and know she loves you more than “much.”

So more than “much,” much more than “all.”
Though tender words, these do not speak
of love at all, nor how we fall
and mother’s there, nor how we reach
from nightmares in the ticking night
and she is there to hold us tight.

There never was a stronger back
than father’s back, that held our weight
and lifted us, when we were small,
and bore us till we reached the gate,
then held our hands that first bright mile
till we could run, and did, and flew.
But, oh, a mother’s tender smile
will leap and follow after you!



Labor Pains
by Fadwa Tuqan

The wind blows the pollen in the night
through ruins of fields and homes.
Earth shivers with love,
with the pain of giving birth,
but the conqueror wants us to believe
stories of submission and surrender.

O Arab Aurora!
Tell the usurper of our land
that childbirth is a force unknown to him,
the pain of a mother’s body,
that the scarred land
inaugurates life
at the moment of dawn
when the rose of blood
blooms on the wound.



Hadeel's Song
by Hanan Ashrawi

Some words are hard to pronounce—
He-li-cop-ter is most vexing
                    (A-pa-che or Co-bra is impossible)
But how it can stand still in the sky
I cannot understand—
          What holds it up
                    What bears its weight
(Not clouds, I know)
It sends a flashing light—so smooth—
          It makes a deafening sound
                    The house shakes
                             (There are holes in the wall by my bed)
Flash-boom-light-sound—
And I have a hard time sleeping
(I felt ashamed when I wet my bed, but no one scolded me).

Plane—a word much easier to say—
          It flies, tayyara,
My mother told me
A word must have a meaning
A name must have a meaning
Like mine,
        (Hadeel, the cooing of the dove)
Tanks, though, make a different sound
          They shudder when they shoot
Dabbabeh is a heavy word
          As heavy as its meaning.

Hadeel—the dove—she coos
          Tayyara—she flies
                    Dabbabeh—she crawls
My Mother—she cries
          And cries and cries
My Brother—Rami—he lies
          DEAD
                    And lies and lies, his eyes
                             Closed.
Hit by a bullet in the head
          (bullet is a female lead—rasasa—she kills,
                    my pencil is a male lead—rasas—he writes)
What’s the difference between a shell and a bullet?
(What’s five-hundred-milli-meter-
        Or eight-hundred-milli-meter-shell?)
Numbers are more vexing than words—
          I count to ten, then ten-and-one, ten-and-two
                    But what happens after ten-and-ten,
How should I know?
Rami, my brother, was one
          Of hundreds killed—
They say thousands are hurt,
But which is more
          A hundred or a thousand (miyyeh or alf)
                    I cannot tell—
                             So big—so large—so huge—
Too many, too much.

Palestine—Falasteen—I’m used to,
          It’s not so hard to say,
It means we’re here—to stay—
          Even though the place is hard
                    On kids and mothers too
For soldiers shoot
          And airplanes shell
                    And tanks boom
                             And tear gas makes you cry
(Though I don’t think it’s tear gas that makes my mother cry)
I’d better go and hug her
          Sit in her lap a while
                    Touch her face (my fingers wet)
                             Look in her eyes
Until I see myself again
          A girl within her mother’s sight.

If words have meaning, Mama,
          What is Is-ra-el?
What does a word mean
        if it is mixed
                  with another—
If all soldiers, tanks, planes and guns are
        Is-ra-el-i
                    What are they doing here
In a place I know
          In a word I know—(Palestine)
                    In a life that I no longer know?



Excerpts from Under Siege
by Mahmoud Darwish
translated by Marjolijn De Jager

Here on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and the cannon of time
Close to the gardens of broken shadows,
We do what prisoners do,
And what the jobless do:
We cultivate hope.

A country preparing for dawn. We grow less intelligent
For we closely watch the hour of victory:
No night in our night lit up by the shelling
Our enemies are watchful and light the light for us
In the darkness of cellars.

Here there is no "I".
Here Adam remembers the dust of his clay.

You who stand in the doorway, come in,
Drink Arabic coffee with us
And you will sense that you are men like us
You who stand in the doorways of houses
Come out of our morningtimes,
We shall feel reassured to be
Men like you!

When the planes disappear, the white, white doves
Fly off and wash the cheeks of heaven
With unbound wings taking radiance back again, taking possession
Of the ether and of play. Higher, higher still, the white, white doves
Fly off. Ah, if only the sky
Were real [a man passing between two bombs said to me].

Cypresses behind the soldiers, minarets protecting
The sky from collapse. Behind the hedge of steel
Soldiers piss—under the watchful eye of a tank—
And the autumnal day ends its golden wandering in
A street as wide as a church after Sunday mass . . .

[To a killer] If you had contemplated the victim’s face
And thought it through, you would have remembered your mother in the
Gas chamber, you would have been freed from the reason for the rifle
And you would have changed your mind: this is not the way
to find one’s identity again.

The siege is a waiting period
Waiting on the tilted ladder in the middle of the storm.

Alone, we are alone as far down as the sediment
Were it not for the visits of the rainbows.

We have brothers behind this expanse.
Excellent brothers. They love us. They watch us and weep.
Then, in secret, they tell each other:
"Ah! if this siege had been declared . . . " They do not finish their sentence:
"Don’t abandon us, don’t leave us."

Our losses: between two and eight martyrs each day.
And ten wounded.
And twenty homes.
And fifty olive trees . . .
Added to this the structural flaw that
Will arrive at the poem, the play, and the unfinished canvas.

Oh watchmen! Are you not weary
Of lying in wait for the light in our salt
And of the incandescence of the rose in our wound
Are you not weary, oh watchmen? ...

Greetings to the one who shares my glass with me
In the denseness of a night outflanking the two spaces:
Greetings to my apparition.

My friends are always preparing a farewell feast for me,
A soothing grave in the shade of oak trees
A marble epitaph of time
And always I anticipate them at the funeral:
Who then has died . . . who?



We should not justify suicide bombers.
We are against the suicide bombings,
but we must understand what drives these young people to such actions.
They want to liberate themselves from such a dark life.
It is not ideological, it is despair . . .
We have to understand—not justify—what gives rise to this tragedy.
It's not because they're looking for beautiful virgins in heaven, as Orientalists portray it.
Palestinian people are in love with life.
If we give them hope—a political solution—they'll stop killing themselves.
―Mahmoud Darwish



What I learned from Elie Wiesel and other Jewish Holocaust Survivors is the personal account of how Mike Burch learned more from some of the Jewish Holocaust survivors he worked with, than they seemingly wanted him to know.



Hidden dimensions
by Nahida Izzat

My first son Hassan
Was born on April the 9th

You might think
So what … why are you saying it
With such a gloomy tune
What is wrong with the 9th of April?

You have to be a Palestinian
To understand
For on the 9th of April 1948
The massacre of Deir Yassin
Took place
Where every man women and child
Of that peaceful farming village
Was killed in cold blood
No one survived
Except those
Who pretended to be dead

As we celebrate the birth of a newborn
With joy
We mourn and grieve
Lost loved ones

In our midst
Nothing becomes insular
Nothing is disjointed
No single colours

The fabric of our lives
Makes the most amazing tapestry

If you hold it backwards
Looking at the wrong side
You’ll see a mirror image
Of shades of a blurred picture
With loops . . . knots and fraying thread
If you turn it over
It looks much neater
But still you can’t actually see
The full picture
Only colours and shadows

But hey . . . take a little time
And walk backwards
Further back
Look at the tapestry
From a distance

You will be amazed
At its outstanding beauty
All these murky shades
That didn’t make sense to you
Even disturbed you
When you were near

From afar
These dark shadows
Are precisely what makes this piece
So unique
So spectacular

These unfathomable hues
Are what give our life portrait
Its depth
And hidden dimensions

Since that day of 1948
Many . . . many babies were born
On April the 9th

Our joys are always stained
With hints of sorrow

Our sadness is always coloured
With hues of hope

Without which
The tapestry of our lives
Will never be complete
Won’t be as rich
Or as beautiful

Don’t waste much time
Staring at the wrong side with fury
Turn it over . . .walk further back . . . and feel the glory



Dead Life
by Olfa Philo

Hey you, hurrying off to the doctor in case of flu or toothache,
what if you suffered like the people of Gaza from a chronic heartache?

Hey you, your kids have a lot of toys to play with and change their moods,
but kids like them in Gaza are being robbed of their innocent moments of childhood!

Hey you, your kids are lucky enjoying food, shelter and comfy beds,
but parents in Gaza are traumatized by their kids' exploded stomachs and heads!

Hey you, you're showing off your new brand-name clothes to your peers?
For their lifelong 'red uniforms', kids of Gaza are drenched in tears!

Hey you, you're complaining every now and then about a lack of fun?
What if your ears were deafened by the noise of rockets and guns!

Hey you, you shout and swear if your kids fall or bleed somewhere?
People of Gaza have been bleeding in silence for decades, as if No one does care!

Hey you, you feel humiliated if you don't celebrate your birthday every year with friends, candles and a cake?
People of Gaza have only wakes and are burning candles daily for their land's sake!

Hey you, you listen to music to calm down and release your stress?
People of Gaza have no other melody but the melancholic lyric of death!

Hey you, you're enraged because your lover didn't call you on the phone?
People of Gaza can only express their displeasure with a stone!

Hey you, you're reluctant to see horrible pictures of atrocities and scattered body parts?
Will you survive a minute if your eyes witness your family members literally falling apart?

Hey you, you're enjoying beer, marijuana and secret dating on Twitter and Facebook?
Did you also swallow all the anesthetizing pills and poisoned hooks?

Hey you, you're hypnotized by the wide range of drama, thriller, soccer and porn TV channels?
Why don't you become a pioneer in launching soul-uplifting, intelligence-boosting and peace-promoting panels?

Hey you, do you feel frustrated when you miss a party or a famous star's show?
What if you lived a life where the sun never rises to melt the years of snow?

Hey you over there, proud of having two feet not four,
What makes you feel superior,
if your brain is (b)locked,
your tongue is tied and
your heart is congealed to the core?

Related pages: Sandy Hook Poems, Aurora Poetry, Columbine Poems, Courtni Webb's Sandy Hook Poem and Possible Expulsion, Darfur Poems, Gaza Poems, Haiti Poems, Hiroshima Poems, Holocaust Poems, Nakba Poems, 911 Poems, Trail of Tears

The HyperTexts