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BY JUNE JORDAN

Dedicated to the 600,000 Palestinian men, women, and children who lived in Lebanon from 1948-1983.

I didn’t know and nobody told me and what

could I do or say, anyway?

They said you shot the London Ambassador

and when that wasn’t true

they said so

what

They said you shelled their northern villages

and when U.N. forces reported that was not true

because your side of the cease-fire was holding

since more than a year before

they said so

what

They said they wanted simply to carve

a 25 mile buffer zone and then

they ravaged your

water supplies your electricity your

hospitals your schools your highways and byways all

the way north to Beirut because they said this

was their quest for peace

They blew up your homes and demolished the grocery

stores and blocked the Red Cross and took away doctors

to jail and they cluster-bombed girls and boys

whose bodies

swelled purple and black into twice the original size

and tore the buttocks from a four month old baby

and then

they said this was brilliant

military accomplishment and this was done

they said in the name of self-defense they said

that is the noblest concept

of mankind isn’t that obvious?

They said something about never again and then

they made close to one million human beings homeless

in less than three weeks and they killed or maimed

40,000 of your men and your women and your children

 

But I didn’t know and nobody told me and what

could I do or say, anyway?

 

They said they were victims. They said you were

Arabs.

They called      your apartments and gardens      guerrilla

strongholds.

They called      the screaming devastation

that they created       the rubble.

Then they told you to leave, didn’t they?

 

Didn’t you read the leaflets that they dropped

from their hotshot fighter jets?

They told you to go.

One hundred and thirty-five thousand

Palestinians in Beirut and why

didn’t you take the hint?

Go!

There was the Mediterranean: You

could walk into the water and stay

there.

What was the problem?

 

I didn’t know and nobody told me and what

could I do or say, anyway?

 

Yes, I did know it was the money I earned as a poet that

paid

for the bombs and the planes and the tanks

that they used to massacre your family

 

But I am not an evil person

The people of my country aren’t so bad

 

You can expect but so much

from those of us who have to pay taxes and watch

American TV

 

You see my point;

 

I’m sorry.

I really am sorry.

 

 

 

June Jordan, “Apologies to all the People in Lebanon” from Directed By Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by The June M. Jordan Literary Trust. Used by permission of The June M. Jordan Literary Trust, www.junejordan.com.

Source: The Collected Poems of June Jordan (Copper Canyon Press, 2005)

 

 

 

 

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