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poems from Guantanamo: the detainees speak

March 9, 2009


I Write My Hidden Longing
by Abdulla Majid Al Noaimi
The Captive of Dignity

I write my hidden longing:

I tried to defend him with my eyes,
But I looked around and was cornered.
Destiny had found me.

My rib is broken,
And I can find no one to heal me.

My body is frail,
And I can see no relief ahead.

Before me is a tumultuous sea;
The land continues to call me.
But I am sailing in my thoughts.

The ingenious have murdered me in my home.

I wish someone would comfort me;
At night I taste bile and cannot sleep.

The tears of someone else’s longing are affecting me;
My chest cannot take the vastness of emotion.

The book of God consoles me,
And dulls the pains I have suffered.
The book of God assuages my misery,
Even though they declared war against it.

I stand tall and smile in the face of misery.
I am satisfied.

Oh Father, tell the tearful one,
“Do not forget me, as I do not forget you.”
He will understand my condition.

And when you pass by life’s familiar objects–
The Bedouin rugs, the bound branches,
The flight of pigeons–
Remember me.

I salute the brothers,
And pray peace to those who remain unfaithful.
I say hello to Shwayman.
And to everyone whom I love,
And to everyone who misses me.

Remember, pray to God for those whom I love.
Maybe God, with His kindness, will have mercy on me.

Poems from Guantanamo: the detainees speak edited by Marc Falkoff, attorney, University of Iowa Press (2007)

“Poetry, art of the human voice, helps turn us toward what we should or must not ignore,” writes Robert Pinsky.

From 7-9pm, on Monday, April 13, at A Place of Peace in Ventura, men, women and children will gather to hear poems by Guantanamo detainees presented by poets, artists, peace activists, and performers. Organized by Grant Marcus and co-sponsored by a number of peace groups including Veterans for Peace, the event is a $10 “love” donation and will include a brief contextualization by lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights which represented many of the Guantanamo detainees. The poem above is one of two I will be reading by this author to help close the show. More on this event as it unfolds in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, I encourage you to find and purchase the book.

Daylife says about the cover art above:

This handout photo received 21 June 2007 courtesy of University of Iowa press shows the cover of “Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak” edited by Marc Falkoff. Poems scratched on styrofoam cups and written with toothpaste by inmates at the US “war on terror” prison in Guantanamo Bay will soon be printed in a book, the publishers said Wednesday.”Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak,” published by University of Iowa Press, includes 22 works by 17 prisoners at the US naval prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.The works were collected by volunteer lawyers for the detainees — most of whom remain in the prison — and translated into English for publication under the scrutiny of the US Department of Defense. The book’s editor is Marc Falkoff, an Illinois law professor and attorney for 17 Guantanamo detainees, who said of the detaines “most of them had not written poetry before.” The profits from the book will be given to the Center for Constituional Rights which has taken up the detainees cases

For more about the book, here’s the Huffington Post. Hear an NPR story about the book here. In it, part of “Ode to the Sea” by Abdullah Thani Farsi Al Anazi is read; I will post that poem in the coming weeks. Please take 12 minutes out of your life to listen to this radio feature.

For more poetry, ride the Poetry Train.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2009 2:28 pm

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Very moving. I read the Huffington Post article and can picture these poems appearing on styrofoam cups, on any surfaces these previously non-poets could find to spill out their thoughts and emotions.

  2. March 13, 2009 12:27 pm

    thank you. this is so moving. so important. i will spread your post and details, if that’s ok.

  3. March 13, 2009 3:44 pm

    Absolutely, Linda, please do share the details!

    Thank you Julia, for commenting. I too was imagining them being written on very surface available and imaginable.


  1. » poems from Guantanamo: the detainees speak
  2. Poems From Guantanamo « THROUGHSTONES
  3. Topics about Peace » Archive » poems from Guantanamo: the detainees speak « art predator

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