nothing happened |  shailja patel


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happened in Ramallah, nothing
happened in Jenin. Only
shit-smeared walls
and smashed computers. Only
money, jewellery, painfully
saved for years, ripped out of
hiding places, childrenís clothes
tipped out of drawers, drenched
in powerful streams of IDF urine.

Letís hear from that Ďman of peaceí, Sharon.
Palestinians are beasts on two legs
and beasts are meant to be
plundered, dismembered.
Letís hear from the young Israeli soldiers:
Itís easy for you to judge us
from New York, San Francisco -
take your filthy cameras, your prying
horrified eyes, take
your hearts that bleed for nothing -
we are defending our country and this
is a war.

happened in Ramallah, nothing
happened in Jenin. Only young men
street by street
rounded up, stripped, rifle-whipped,
only the occasional smashed
ankle, broken
and be grateful we didnít kill you, you filth.

Only young men, house by house, street
by street, swallowed into
the night, only
women left crying
in the ruins of
bulldozed homes, only voices
from under the rubble on dying cellphones

help us
in godís name anyone in the world
if you can hear us send us help

Only bodies tumbled
like urine-soaked clothes in the
hospital corridors as the lights
flickered and (pop)
only graves dug by lacerated hands
in parking lots -
and you wonder if the Palestinians
never heard
how Jewish bodies buried
unbagged, in Buchenwald, Theresienstadt
swelled with gas and exploded
out of the ground -
but that just goes to show
the Likud is right, the West
Bank settlers are right, they are
a dirty illiterate people
carpet bomb them into fertilizer

happened in Ramallah, nothing
happened in Jenin. Only ambulances
halted at checkpoints, laden with useless
blood, only aid workers pleading
to bring in food and water, only
prying journalists, misguided
UN observers held at gunpoint, denied
entry because
Thereís nothing to see!
while Colin Powell cruised
through Egypt and Morocco,
one hand over his eyes, another
over his mouth, dates
stuffed in his ears, a 3-monkey
ensemble at Jerusalem banquets, Powell
heard no evidence of massacre, Powell
saw no need to visit
the West Bank, Powell
didnít mention
the Geneva Convention, the International
Declaration of Human Rights, the whole
battalion of UN resolutions
calling for Israeli withdrawal since
1967, because

donít you see? NOTHING!!

happened in Ramallah, nothing
happened in Jenin, Powell
saw no evidence and we are all

To join Shailja's mailing list to receive monthly emails about her upcoming performances and features, please send an email to You can read or hear more of her work by buying her chapbooks, Dreaming In Gujurati, and Shilling Love, and the CD, "Best Of The Berkeley Slam Poets" which contains 2 of her poems along with a lineup of other amazing Bay Area spoken word artists. Send a cheque to Shailja Patel, 360 Guerrero St, #205, San Francisco, CA 94103. Books: $5 each, CD $10, CD + 1 book: $12, CD + 2 books: $14. Postage and packing: $3. Please specify the name and address you want the book/CD sent to, if it differs from that on the cheque.

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