Archive for the ‘Poem’ Category

There is hope in every story.

August 10, 2015

Western Media often restricts our greater global lens. In Dr. Segall’s Performing Democracy, she fights to reveal the truth about Arab Springs, defined as a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests, civil wars and riots in the greater Arab world. An estimated 151,000-600,000 civilians were killed just in the first 3-4 years of conflict in the Iraq War. In 2011, though omitted by Western media, thousands of people have protested throughout Iraq. “Iraq became central to Arab identity” because of “arguments in the new Arab media”. What fascinates me the most is the unprecedented amount of stories that go unheard and unseen. Thankfully, Dr. Segall highlights Khawla Hadi, an Iraqi woman with a heartbreaking yet hopeful story. Just a few years ago, Dr. Segall worked closely with Khawla in a public workshop, revealing a lost testimony, all while raising awareness and support for Iraqi refugees. Over two million people fled from Iraq across Middle Eastern borders. The United States is now permitting more Iraqi refugees after years of limited admission. Khawla was told to leave Iraq and lived two years in hiding before escaping across the border. Every week she relocated from garages, dusty back rooms, or concealed spaces of relatives. She had to be extremely secretive, use code names, and report to security (and her children) that her husband was dead, in order to securely take her children out of the country. Now living in Seattle, she bridges the gap between two regions, translating for newly arrived refugees.

Displaced Iraqis from the northern town of Sinjar head towards the autonomous Kurdistan region on August 4, 2014, as they seek refuge after Islamic State (IS) Sunni militants took control of their hometown. The Islamic State (IS) raised its black flag in Sinjar on August 3, 2014 after ousting the peshmerga troops of Iraq's Kurdish government, forcing thousands of people from their homes. AFP PHOTO / STR-/AFP/Getty Images

Her story of revolt has often been told at workshops through discussing poetry. During Saddam Hussein’s reign, poetry was a very popular way of expressing resistance to the state. It still is. Khawla identified with a particular poem, titled, “Bombardment” that imagined Iraq as a mother who is unable to hold onto her children. The author, Haider Al Kabi, writes, “The city cannot gather in her children.” The people of Baghdad desperately cling to their homes in what should be a safe haven. The maternal city is described as “vainly reaching to gather her little ones”. However, for refugees, the pain doesn’t end once having left their country. It’s extremely painful to be away from home while their relatives are still experiencing reckless violence, often witnessing this violence through a Western Media lens.

dr segall and khawla

Khawla’s story as a refugee is just one of many. Her perspective has and will continue to teach and inspire. We are fortunate enough to have Khawla chaperoning us on the trip. To say I’m excited is an understatement. This past spring Khawla came into our classroom to teach us some Arabic. You would have never guessed that this kind spirited, gentle woman experienced such atrocities. We all laughed together as we attempted to speak Arabic and a random man walked into our classroom offering giant red balloons. Of course we accepted. It was a beautiful childlike moment, made more beautiful by the fact that Khawla essentially had her innocence stripped from her, yet was able to experience this lighthearted joy. There truly is hope in every story.


Hands Colliding

October 1, 2013

Gaining perspective
It came as a shock
There was no turning back, no sign of a clock
Time was no issue
Judgment had no aim
Laughter was a necessity, that did not produce shame
We came in as infants, children to be taught, the ways of a world in which we have surely fought, what did we learn, how much was gained, were we all that glad we came?
Questions kept arising, when would it be my turn?
What was it going to be like?
How long would it take?
Little did I know, it was all for my sake.
Her hands were dark, a black that I could see. But when mine came over hers, there was no diversity.
We were made as one in that moment,
An equality never expressed, she was giving me a gift,
Something that could not be taken.
Stereotypes being bent.
She took my hand so gently, and began the process to clean me.
Washing away all those thoughts of unclear ambiguity.
I will never forget, that in which she took from me.
For I didn’t know I had it and that I needed to be set free.
No more barriers to be found, no more walls to be formed.
It was the calm after a storm.
Changing me forever. Never to be the same.
She striped me of my mindset, that had the west to blame.
My hand in hers, two colors coming together, two worlds making headway, two sides conforming, a reconciliation, I did not know was contorting.
I will not forget, the gift she gave to me.
It will be in my heart, and on my hand, for an eternity.

Alhambra and Abraham

October 2, 2012

My eyes were bright

My heart excited, at this amazing sight

Two hundred and fifty years in the making

It stood through a tremendous shaking

Jews, Christians and Muslims together

They stood through any weather

Learning, seeking and living in tolerance

They are an example to all of us

Patience and workmanship engraved in the walls

I hope this place never falls

It represents so much history

Along with deep mystery

It offers up a haunting past

What was accomplished here will outlast

We should take note that peace existed before

And not go stir up another war

Each faith stemming from Abrahams lineage

We are all called to be peacemakers; it’s a clear message

Looking at the Alhambra from afar.


October 1, 2012

The collection of  freckles brought on by sunlight,

lashes thick over her eyes as she watches.

Sneaking closer to observe the fray,

timid and curious.

What do they say?


Two tones lighter than the dark clay wall,

orange jellaba and scarf upon her small frame.

Gathering the courage to go,

determined and eager.

The ones she does not know.


Foreign and out of place these people are,

vast dunes stretching in the distance.

She walks out on small feet,

bare and dirty.

Never again will they meet.


Unbelievable fondness through mere sight,

Peering into their eyes she has grown to admire.

Je m’appelle Fatema she said,

joyful and radiant.

All these thoughts in her head.


Following her every move from then on,

This child who has captured my whole heart.

Kisses on my cheek she later shares,

Je t’aime I say.

Hoping she knows that I care.

A Reverse Haiku About Morocco

October 1, 2012

I am loving Morocco

The chicken is good

And now I’m on a camel



September 29, 2012


praise God.


in the will of God.


in the name of God.




our commonality.


the experience.






الله محبة

God is love.


For Kwella

September 25, 2012

I pick you up

and spin you around.

You run through the dirt

to the top of the mound.

A smile and extended hands

laughter is common

in all of the lands.

No need for words

because play will entice

That look in your eyes

yes, that will suffice

Welcome to Morocco

September 25, 2012

It’s a call that follows wherever I go

From the seaside city of Tangier,

Welcome to Morocco

In the caffe filled streets of Meknes,

Welcome to Morocco

Surrounded by leather goods in Fez,

Welcome to Morocco

On the back of a camel in the Sahara,

Welcome to Morocco

Playing with street children in Merzouga,

Welcome to Morocco

To the bustling markets of Marakesh,

Welcome to Morocco

No matter where I go I will always be

Welcome in Morocco


September 24, 2012

The boy with the wandering eyes

and giving smile.

No money for this gift, he said

and between his black fingers a grass-woven horse.

The dark laughing child, my selfless shining knight.


September 23, 2012


The truth from the one

Who she loved the  most

A history that was rewritten


From the one

Who she loved the most

An instance of clarity from her hazy past


Is all she heard from the one

Who she loved the most

Her hushed past screaming in her ears


Her weapon to keep the one

Who she loved the most

Kill the past, restore the present


Reunited with the one

Who she loved the most

A brief moment together before