Red stains the walls of the mosque of proud Hebron,
red on the floor and red on the ceiling,
as rage blossoms red in the hearts of the people,
but no anger remains in the eyes on the floor.
Some claim it was done by a single lone madman,
a nut born in Brooklyn, New York, USA,
who used a machine gun in red-anger fury,
or maybe in justice avenging his friend,
but the eyes on the floor knew instants of horror
at the guards who stood silent, who chose not to come,
as they honored the status of Jews as too godlike
to be bothered or shot at as they murdered their prey.
And fear rises yet in the hearts of the victims,
the Arabs whose lovers lie dead in the dust,
treated as servants or as rugs to be trod on,
or roaches to slaughter in a moment of whim.
And the blood in the mosque cries wildly for wisdom,
and the barbed wire walls wail wildly for love,
while the fear and the hate and the loathing of killers
remind us that evil demands total change.
When millions of Jews filled the ovens in Poland,
then Roosevelt abandoned their lives and their pain,
turned refugees back, overseas to be slaughtered,
gave Hitler free passage for his railroads of doom,
but the survivors’ grown children now dress up as statesmen,
and they arm the grandchildren with weapons of war,
and plant them as guardsmen for orchards and temples,
and watch as their sons strut like Nazis reborn.
But the eyes on the floor reflect on these questions:
“Why do the tortured now torture others?
how can their children turn into wolves?
who will negate their power and fears?”
The lips of the dead ask these questions of strangers,
questions now written in blood on the floor:
“Who pays for these weapons? finances the bombers?
Who profits from lives which we spent in the dust?”
Earlier version published in Paterson Literary Review 26 (1997): 75.
This poem is from Grief and Rage: An American Jew’s Poems on Palestine by Marxist Sociology section member Sam Friedman. You can obtain one or more copies of Grief and Rage from him by e-mailing email@example.com.