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Making a life of walls


He was a curious child to them,

their passionate dreamer

small boy poet, their son,

hours alone, stubby pencil to scrap of paper

hiding his hunger in words,

his heart so delicate,

there was no safe place

in the strange Jordanland of escape,

so he hid his poems in sand walls.


When he came of age, he returned

to the heart of his country’s history,

burying his soul in a deep grave

alongside that of his Palestinian peoples’,

he laid down on that embrace of land,

exposed war secrets out loud in daily print news,

promised his life to regain the peoples’  freedom,

allowing their fire to consume his years

in the agony of prison walls

built for lies and torture.


One remembers promises like that,

and so he searched for his soul

in the dark of pain and bars

held in place by bloody bricks of loss.

News comrades saw his trial by conflagration,

fought for his freedom but only begot

his sequestered living behind invisible walls

surrounding his home, converting it

to a political territory, blocking his friends,

his voice, trying to destroy their dream.


Finally, in the crux of expulsion from his motherland,

sponsors brought him to a distant new home,

he and his children, to an unfamiliar life

of abundance with barriers he did not

make, and no passage back to his desert love

with soiled ground strewn with the victor’s

dirty tricks, where they burned his poems

shredded his paintings.


Exhausted, he drew in breath

and readied himself to build again

in a new city open and free, to unfurl

from crumbling dreams new promises

for his children who would never see home.

The price this time was great,

they’d again built walls,

but this time to restrain his soul.




Copyright © Sharon Lopez Mooney, “A life of walls”, originally published in Arteidolia Press, September Issue, ed. Randee Silv, Queens, NY 2023

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