There’s a certain softness to her gait. Each breathe a measured smile.
She makes soft yellow rose petals jealous, filled with envy all the while.
Cocksure, certain no hint of mistake. Her life bounds up and on, no need to brake.
But late at night with dreams still far away, to herself alone she dreads the morn’s day.

What to do where and why, what to share with who and when
it was so much easier way back then.
That first kiss that first race of heart
the first distance at times apart.

I’m your guardian, that inner voice, together we started this trip by and by
That voice inside your mind’s eye, the stuffed animal that never asks why.
But with each step I slow, while your travel speeds
Soon I’ll disappear for you and you alone to find your needs.

I saw that first time you raced and fell, nicked your knee
I was there when your parents bid you off to go with me.
That first clumsy step in heels high
That first frightened touch- dazed no need to wonder why
Soon my dear we shall say goodbye.

She makes soft yellow rose petals jealous.

———–Stanley Cohen 7th June 2015

Take your pick.

Long ago Fredrick Douglass a runaway “slave. wrote . . . “power concedes nothing without struggle. The struggle may be moral or it may be physical or it may be moral and physical but struggle it must be. Power concedes nothing without struggle, it never has and it never will.”

As a young man I looked at death square in the face more than once and laughed, indeed scoffed- it held no sway over my sight or soul. Issues of truth and justice have a way of separating the talkers from those who march, perhaps in “silence,” but march nonetheless.

Recently I wrote there is no greater crime than to steal the smile from a child’s face- that is unless you are the accomplice who sits back and watches in silence as her joy is overcome with despair and unforgivable loss and does nothing about it.

It is simply not enough to see evil and hatred and argue over its shape. It exists. It occupies the seats of power and halls of “justice.” It is also no stranger to those that claim the inheritance of freedom but commit mayhem in their empty pursuit of it. It is the well defined battle of our time. Who can say today with honesty “I did not know?”

For the passive among us that think that its enough to identify those people, places and things that would steal our breathe and wish it away, I wish you luck. For those among us that find romance in the grand empty wander in search of a dream to dream while engulfed all the while by a deadly nightmare I wish you well. Life is all too short. There are those who take and those who give- its that simple. Take your pick.

Ode to Said

STANLEY L COHEN on 5/6/2015 3:35:42 PM wrote

An Ode to Said:

I love Said. He’s everything that’s good and decent and kind-and so much more. he’s the laughter of a toddler who’s just learned to run; the panic of young lovers who race to remake the bed as parents return home early; the broad grin that intoxicates us when the rare and sweet aroma of justice fills the room and gives us hope.

Said is all things to all good people– those that are and those that aspire to be. He’s been with us since the beginning of time and will smile down on us long after the last meteor shower has found its mark and we are gone.

Palestinian by birth, humane by trade, and free by choice Said is a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew and none of the above. While many march in lockstep to the beat of the safe, quick and easy, Said has journeyed long and hard to rear his beloved family, to raise our voice and to lift our spirits. Even now in his final days with us Said speaks with determination and no regrets; sorry only that when a free independent Palestine, a State for the stateless, arrives, he will not be here to rejoice in person.

For Said, resistance is much more than a mere chant and BDS not a choice. They are sacred covenants which speak for eleven million of his Nation and the many who came before.

Said’s journey will end far too soon where it all began, where its always been- with Palestine. Like all Palestinians, young and old, those past and yet to come, he was at Deir Yassin when genocide rained down as the world slept and the trail of tears began. He’s walked the blood stained roads of Jenin and Tulkarim and those of a hundred other Palestinian villages brutalized or laid to waste for no reason but their existence. He has known the hardscrabble streets of refugee camps that stretch from the destruction of Yarmouk to the time-tested despair of Sabra-Shatilla. To Said, the coastline of Gaza offers little safety but in its resistance comes boundless pride and dignity. Said has wept at the side of age-old olive trees ravaged by the same evil that has demolished the Bedouin village of Al-Araqib time and time again. In Quds, he is every young boy, stone in hand, who by his resistance honors the key still worn around his great grandmother’s neck. He is the detained uncharged hunger striker who will not eat so long as his Nation is starved day after day after day.

Yes, Said is Palestine- proud, resilient and eternal. It was, it is and it will always be.

I have been truly blessed to know many great women and men- a first among equals, Said is one of them. His has been a life of warmth, wonder and wisdom and I will miss him sorely.

If compassion is to be our currency, Said is richest of all;
If humanity is to be our light then he is the sun that shines through the darkest of all nights to lead us to safety;
If greatness is to be measured by the size of one’s heart, Said is truly among our giants.

To be blue is all too easy at this time, but it can steal our breath and leave us speechless. So smile, shout out and give thanks for Said- that rare man, that wondrous gift. Have no fear, he lives on wherever women and men of conscience and principle fight for truth and justice.

My brother, thank you for your friendship, your inspiration, your unwavering support and strength.

I have no idea where you’re going Said, but if I am very, very fortunate one day I will go there too. Until we meet again . .. .

Up the Rebels.

sleepless nights and long anxious days

As a young man I recall my father speaking only once of the nightmare that was the camps-the death chambers buried deep below the blood and marrow stained chimneys- the final escape for the charred remains of the “different”- of the “enemies” of the day.

A war hero, later to be seriously injured in battle but scarred not by whom he fought, but rather, what he saw, he remained haunted till the final peaceful escape that his own death brought him many years later. His was a pained existence of sleepless nights and long anxious days. When you’ve been to hell and back the niceties of life with its wistful dreams and bankrupt sanctimonious values just don’t seem to matter. When you’ve been to hell and back cheap campaign slogans and discounted Sunday brunches give you no real reason to get out of bed.

A Jew himself, fluent in Yiddish and German, and a slight but sturdy martial arts expert and master sergeant, dad seemed a perfect blend to carry out the few surviving but broken bodies he found in darkened corridors they called home while they waited their turn for death’s grip. Only once did he recount the details of a rescue of a living skeleton he had found huddled in the corner of a floor where two long dark tunnels intersected. In drone, almost monotone, measure he spoke of a young 80 lb man who trembled with fright, eyes dazed and shrunken into his battered aged face, fixated all the while on the uniformed stranger whom he thought had come to take him to the ovens. Only with the ring of dad’s New York Yiddish accent did this likely Polish Jew break down-at first with a single yelp, it soon turned to wailing sobs. As he was carried to his freedom both men began to cry uncontrollably. Gently placing the man down in the sunlight outside, he gave him some food and water before returning to the bowels of hell to search for other survivors. When finished, he walked off overwhelmed, and never looked back.

My father would not again be the same. Nor would I. Though still young, that day long ago, I journeyed with him down a road of pure unmitigated evil. For me, it was an all too early, but necessary, life-forming glimpse into what boundless racial and religious “supremacy” could do when cheered on by the howl of the mob, empowered by the silence of the world.

They came from the Jewish shetls and pogroms of Europe, from the off-beat world of art and theater, from the pews of Catholic churches, from anarchist and communist meeting halls, from refugee camps of stateless gypsies and from the beds shared by women and men who found comfort and intimacy of their own choosing. In country after country, city after city the largely passive, but still hopeful, surrendered their homes and liberty; although at times many fought, it was not for freedom but, it is said, better seats in the box cars that were to become very much a one way ride. In death camps that dotted the European landscape like yester-years rest stops, millions were slaughtered as little more than convenient excuses for broken political promises, failed social policies and economic downturns. How often today have you heard the phrase “them” or “those people? ” Some things just don’t change.

Warsaw was to prove different. There in 1943 in a wonderful grand gesture of defiance that today still rings true it reminds us all of the choice which must be made in the face of deadly evil. There, thousands of lightly armed Jews said no, fought back and died not from noxious fumes that passed through their passive terrified bodies but from the rain of Nazi bullets and bombs that their resistance invited, or at their own hands. At days end, they died as women and men of principle and conscience who refused to go silently unto the night although they knew all too well, that the night to come would surely come soon and, for them, remain eternal.

What is there about life’s back roads that so easily and sadly turn a tourist into tour guide, inmates into guards, victims into victimizers. To answer this question is to know the grand truth of Israel- a Zionist state that has committed unspeakable crimes against eleven million Palestinians, almost all of them civilians, for 67 years and counting.

Today the martyrs of Warsaw recoil in sheer horror as they look down from their final resting place of honor- they did not pay the ultimate price to see their sons and daughters build death camps that their grandchildren now guard in occupied Palestine. Of course, like the Nazis, Zionists roll out deadly bankrupt propaganda which justifies genocide, ethnic cleansing and collective punishment of Palestinians as so much a “legitimate” response to Israel’s perpetual and imaginary victimization. Like the Nazis before, Israeli style box cars and camps serve the public “good” and “security” always for the “right” reason- in Israel the earth is flat because Israel says so ! For far too long the Holocaust in all its undeniable horror has served the Zionist agenda as a convenient excuse to engage in atrocities that would bring a broad smile to the face of legendary war criminals. Indeed, Netanyahu and his predecessors would be second to none in a prisoner dock filled with the likes of US General Sherman, Ataturk, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Pinochet, Nixon and Bush and too many others to name- a literal hall of shame that stretches from the South Africa, Yugoslavia and Rwanda of yesterday to Sisi, ISIS, Boka Haram and Obama today. To systematically target civilians for death, to destroy civilian infrastructure, including electricity, water and sanitation systems and schools, to use prohibited and chemical weapons of war, including phosphorous and cluster bombs, to disappear, torture, maim and detain political opponents, or those who resist, indefinitely and without trial, including hundreds of children at any given time, to deny essential foodstuffs, medicines and basic healthcare, to destroy farm lands and age old groves, to annex occupied land and deport those who resist for no reason other than your military can do so, is to cross the line of decency and humanity and to earn a well deserved place among the darkest of the dark who claim legitimacy all the while they scoff at international law and sow carnage wherever they go. If systematic attacks based upon race, religion, ethnicity and political beliefs are criminal, the State of Israel was crafted from a fundamental illegality which continues unabated and no less criminal today.

Beginning long before the atrocities of World war II through the establishment of a racist “Jewish” state in 1948, Zionist militias perfected the art of terrorism in Palestine though a relentless public campaign of atrocities in which Palestinians and British alike were targeted for death and destruction. To the Zionist Palmach, Irgun and Stern gangs, all targets were fair game- no civilians safe, no tactic beyond the pale. Was it Hamas who bombed the King David Hotel murdering 88 mostly British civilians in Jerusalem or who assassinated the Swedish ambassador not long thereafter? Was it ISIS that bombed British cars, garages, offices, radio and power stations, dynamited airplanes, sank boats and robbed banks? Was it Hezbollah which assassinated British police as they directed traffic or who murdered soldiers as they slept in their barracks? Was it the Taliban which kidnapped officers later hanging them from nearby trees ? Was it Boka Haram that leveled Deir Yassin raping young girls, butchering hundreds of unarmed Palestinian men, women (including the pregnant) and children leaving bodies to rot in wells not to poison their water or to hide their crimes, but to send a message with the whiff of their rotting corpses; a message that triggered a desperate flight of some eight hundred thousand Palestinians from their villages and farms to seek refuge in camps throughout the Middle East where they and their descendants remain today ? Was it Al Qaeda which attacked and burned dozens of other Palestinian villages and businesses, in an almost nationwide frenzied destruction and killing spree, leaving mounds of slaughtered animals, burned out crops and trees in its wake? Was it Al Shabab that surrounded the refugee camp of Sabra Shatilla in Lebanon leading to the slaughter of thousands of unarmed Palestinian men, women and children? Has it been Assad of Syria that has murdered and injured tens of thousands of civilians in Gaza during the three most recent attacks on one of the world’s most densely and impoverished civilian enclaves leaving upwards of 50% or more of its homes and infrastructure destroyed ?

In the perverse world in which we live today, there is a fine line between freedom fighter and terrorist- who wins! Fundamental Issues of morality, justice and human rights get carved up as so much the spoils of victory by the victors, while those who resist, and at times, by any means necessary, get reduced to little more than mad men and women driven by age old passions, dangerous fanatical “religious beliefs” and a thirst to regain what, it is claimed, was not theirs in the first stead.

In Israel, Begin, Shamir and Rabin all led fanatical terrorist groups which committed unspeakable crimes which targeted any and all who “got in their way” in pursuit of their divine right as the “chosen” people – each later became a respected leader of the Zionist state. Today, each is celebrated as an heroic founder of a noble just country. But, then again, in Israel the earth is still considered to be flat, so it is.

My parents were both strong supporters of the Zionist “dream” when they themselves were but in the spring of their lives. In time, like increasing numbers of Jews, they soured on that dream eventually seeing it for the nightmare that it has become for Palestinians no matter what the stated purpose for its existence. Late in life, my dad in particular felt a personal sense of betrayal by it, having seen Israel become to Palestinians very much the same deadly tyrant that led Jews to the basements of death camps operated by Nazis and, yet, compelled others to give their lives in the halls of resistance in Warsaw. For too long the world has permitted this unspeakable atrocity to continue unchallenged and unchanged. Palestine was, it is and it will be.