June 2008 Poem of the Month: Abd El-Hadi Fights a Superpower

Posted by on 06.03.08 | 4 Comments
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Editorial note: This is one of Krayna’s submissions to the Virtual Tea House contest Where’s Home?”

In his book, “Poet’s Choice”, Edward Hirsch writes that this poem “should be required reading in Washington.” He imagines Abd El-Hadi as a “holy fool, an innocent dreamer who wouldn’t hurt anyone or anything.” How do you imagine him? His struggle? What qualities does he exude that you might seek to emulate this month?

farmer - wadi fukin

Photo taken at Beit Jala, West Bank
flickr: Whirlingdervish

From the very first time I read this poem,

I loved the character the poet creates,

Ebd El-Hadi, a fictional character, who

represents real folks – kind, welcoming

and good-hearted, struggling with injustice.

This poet reminds me that unless we are in

relationship, it is all too easy to make enemies

and scapegoats of ordinary people, some of whom

possess uncommon intelligence. Any one who knows

this man would sooner go to his home to share *labneh,

tea, and stories, rather than put him on trial. His endless

kindness, hospitality and generosity move us to reflect

on the expression of these same qualities in our own lives.

As always, I pray this poem inspires each of us

to water seeds of loving-kindness and friendship

in these wild and crazy times.

A deep bow,

Krayna

*Labneh is a kind of cheese made with yogurt.

Abd El-Hadi Fights a Superpower

In his life

he neither wrote nor read.

In his life

he didn’t cut down a single tree,

didn’t slit the throat

of a single calf.

In his life

he did not speak

of the New York Times

behind its back,

didn’t raise

his voice to a soul

except in his saying:

“Come in please,

by God, you can’t refuse.”

Nevertheless –

his case is hopeless,

his situation desperate.

His God-given rights are a grain of salt

tossed in the sea.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury:

about his enemies

my client knows not a thing.

And I can assure you,

were he to encounter

the entire crew

of the aircraft carrier Enterprise,

he’d serve them eggs

and labneh

fresh from the bag.

~ Taha Muhummad Ali, Palestinian Poet

Taha Muhammad Ali, Poet

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