On Refuge and Language

On Refuge and Language

Suheir Hammad

International Terrorist George Bush ¬†I do not wish ¬†To place words in living mouths ¬†Or bury the dead dishonorably ¬†I am not deaf to cries escaping shelters ¬†That citizens are not refugees Refugees are not Americans ¬†I will not use language ¬†One way or another ¬†To accommodate my comfort ¬†I will not look away ¬†All I know is this ¬†No peoples ever choose to claim status of dispossessed ¬†No peoples want pity above compassion ¬†No enslaved peoples ever called themselves slaves ¬†What do we pledge allegiance to? ¬†A government that leaves its old ¬†To die of thirst surrounded by water ¬†Is a foreign government ¬†People who are streaming ¬†Illiterate into paperwork ¬†Have long ago been abandoned ¬†I think of coded language ¬†And all that words carry on their backs ¬†I think of how it is always the poor ¬†Who are tagged and boxed with labels ¬†Not of their own choosing ¬†I think of my grandparents ¬†And how some called them refugees ¬†Others called them non-existent ¬†They called themselves landless ¬†Which means homeless ¬†Before the hurricane ¬†No tents were prepared for the fleeing ¬†Because Americans do not live in tents ¬†Tents are for Haiti for Bosnia for Rwanda ¬†Refugees are the rest of the world ¬†Those left to defend their human decency ¬†Against conditions the rich keep their animals from ¬†Those who have too many children ¬†Those who always have open hands and empty bellies ¬†Those whose numbers are massive ¬†Those who seek refuge ¬†From nature’s currents and man’s resources ¬†Those who are forgotten in the mean times ¬†Those who remember ¬†Ahmad from Guinea makes my falafel sandwich and says ¬†So this is your country ¬†Yes Amadou this my country ¬†And these my people ¬†Evacuated as if criminal ¬†Rescued by neighbors ¬†Shot by soldiers ¬†Adamant they belong ¬†The rest of the world can now see ¬†What I have seen ¬†Do not look away ¬†The rest of the world lives here too ¬†In America

K. KersplebedebK. KersplebedebK. Kersplebedeb

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