“I said, it’s no threat, it’s just a fact. . .” (Sam Hamod)

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POEM  FOR  THE  DAY. . . . 

“AT  THE  ISRAELI  CHECKPOINT  –  A  POEM,”  BY  SAM  HAMOD  
(In memory of Mahmoud Darwish, the greatest of Arab Poets)
At the checkpoint, the
Israeli private asked me my name, I told
her, my name is
Zaitoun, she asked, what does that mean,
I told her 4,000 year old trees, she laughed,
asked for my real name, I told her, “Dumm,” what?
I said, it means blood, she said, that’s no name, I told her
blood of my grandfather, my father, my uncle
and even mine if necessary, she bridled, called the corporal,
he came running up, said, what kind of threat is that,
I said, it’s no threat, it’s just a fact,
he called the sergeant, he came up and hit me before he spoke,
my mouth  bled,  I told him, this is the blood I mean, that same
blood, you are afraid of, it’s over 4000 years old, see how dark it is
he called the lieutenant, who asked why my mouth was bleeding,
the sergeant said I had threatened him, the lieutenant asked me
if that was the truth, I told him, I had only stated facts, that
they would be true, after they conferred, he called the
colonel, the colonel came over and asked why I’d been provocative,
I said,all I was doing was stating facts; he asked what I did,
I told him, I was a farmer, he asked what kind, I told him
a farmer with words, what some call a poet—
he asked me if I knew the work of Amichai, I told him yes,
that I’d met him, that he knew what I meant, that Amichai was
sorry for what he’d felt he “had to do”—the colonel shrugged
dismissed the others and told me, “pass on,
I understand, but they don’t, they are not Jews, I am Jew,
not a Zionist”
I pulled the qhubz arabi from my pocket, pulled some zaitoun
from another, some jibbin from my bag and gave it to him–
we laughed, he split the bread in half—
we ate together, we laughed at how sad and foolish all this was  

Sam Hamod is a poet who was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, has published 10 books of poems, the winner of the Ethnic Heritage Prize for Poetry, taught at The Writers Workshop of The U. of Iowa, Princeton, Michigan, Howard and edited THIRD  WORLD  NEWS  in Washington, DC. He contributed this poem to PalestineChronicle.com.

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