The Betrayal

On a day when over 1,000 Yemeni bodega owners in New York City are on strike to protest the president’s immigration ban, here is a gut-wrenching poem by one of Yemen’s best known poets, Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Maqaleh.

The Betrayal
by Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Maqaleh

My faith in poetry is betrayed, as blood,
gushing from the heart of the square,
now masks the face of words

My eyes can no longer
make out the shape of things,
the tone of things

Blood, blood, and more blood

It shrouds my soul, my tongue
it envelopes the horizon
and stains people’s bread,
falling on plates,
coffee cups,
and the eyes of children.

What dark shadow
casts its corpse across our homeland,
in this city made of light?

What day long bloody hours
lurk over the public square,
in a time of darkness,
hunting for young men
at the age of youthful dreams
and the most beautiful vision
of days to come?

What shame it brings
when the light dies,
shot by bullets of blind hatred

I have no words
but pale ones,
and can offer only tears
streaming down my face,
onto the pages

I tell you: this people
has sent many, many heroes,
and offered many, many sacrifices,
along the path to freedom!

Oh Ghaymaan!  Oh Aybaan!
Aren’t you crushed as tears
shed by the street turn to stone,
and the heart of the public square
anguishes at the passing of sons
who sacrifice for the meaning of change?

They bare their chests
and raise their heads high
catching betrayal’s bullets
in a full embrace
of the nation’s precious soil

Tens killed, hundreds injured,
is it enough, oh Ghaymaan,
that your heart weeps,
is it enough, oh Aybaan,
that your soul is touched by tragedy?

Or must we construct
a dam and mountains
made of human beings
to obstruct this savage rising tide,
and stop the blood baths?!

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