Transcript 2001 - 2014


There are men who die
with the wrong name,
others who invent,
forget, or doubt their names,
I know every syllable of my name
in Arabic,
every word is a direction.

Haifa, My Longing

I miss the
long unbroken
body of morning,
giving ourselves
to the lightness of
its Mediterranean breeze
as if it were
all that love
couldn’t be,
and the stillness
of our wings
of the sea around us
and the sheets loosely
covering us
knew my heart
was yours
but I didn’t utter a beat
perhaps I thought
what you needed most
was my silence,
perhaps I was wrong?

Haifa Blues

I’ve known you most of my life
but my voice couldn’t reach you

and here we are together again,
neither of us moving

your breath on my back,
the sun darkening the room we sleep in

the blue wrapping us together
as if it’s our last chance together

perhaps the human noise we make
will save us

perhaps time is against us
and there is too much to feel

perhaps I don’t have enough
of the Arabic language to say –

With you, I never see an end 

I would like to believe this love
doesn’t lessen our chance

to be this city together
after all –

the key to the sea is in the heart

but I don’t think we realized
love is no slight thing

In Acca

I arrived to your old port
without poems or echoes
without a record—
But I record
sixty-seven years of ruined autumns
and every summer you grow
further outside of time,
I record
we built these ruins
these stones houses
the gardens of each home,
I record
Um Ahmad
they want to demolish her house
but our phantoms will never leave
the ruins will disturb them,
I record
the storefronts are emptier
the shababs are left with little to do
besides the drugs they are given
the crime they are forced to resort to
so you can call them dangerous
but their grandfathers will return inside them,
I record
Not for sale
We will not move or surrender
perhaps no one cares what we say
but the sea the sea the sea
has memorized us,
I record
I haven’t seen your
children grow up
I wasn’t given that choice,
I grew up in the confines
of other places,
none can be compared
but I’ve missed you
and didn’t know how much,
forgive me,
I record
we are together
even if we don’t know it
and this city is a city
beyond our uncertain freedom
and those who betray us
those who try to free us
those who pity us
those who love us
those who guilt us
tell them
look at the moonlight
against the sepia stones
no army can destroy
that kind of love,
I record
I see you in 2014
and I’ll see you
every day in every dream,
I apologize for not writing sooner
apologize for not singing
the songs the sea composed for us
and the eternity it rehearsed for us
and even if cemeteries multiply
remember that, like Jerusalem,
even if this city is broken
a survivor will stand
in every one of us
everywhere in exile,
and be the city.


I heard
I’m an Armenian
who believes that stars
are the pieces of lightening
history left to space,
I heard
I have Roman blood
and my brother is Turkish
and Greek,
I heard
my heart is
by the Mosque of Omar
by the Nativity
beside a talisman
and an old man
without teeth or keys,
I heard
my poems turned into stones
with Aramaic letters,
I heard
that here
invaders push natives aside
natives hand their names to trees
and trees rehearse the verses
freedom left,
I heard
I was a house
made of Mediterranean light
except I only heard this in Springtime
and Spring might not exist here anymore
they took all of our trees—
perhaps Jesus can explain what happened
or perhaps all I need to remember
is that
I heard—but this I know—
I’m an Arab,
the seven quarters
of the old city
has left me seven keys
so I can always enter.
* Talhamiyeh means ‘Bethlehemite’ in Arabic.


The Old Port of Jaffa
is here
the sunlight poised
on our memories
the old stones houses
with our tiles tiles tiles
evidence of homes buried
in different names
the years we never defined
the echoes we collected
in each other
the shivering breeze
against our skin
the dark paradise
under our eyes
but you were not here
and I was not here
they say
but we were here
we are here
we are here


Every street is still
a stone white sky,
I pay respect
to those who aren’t
allowed to enter
as I enter Al Aqsa,
as I pray
I look at the spiral colors
in God’s ceiling,
think of all I love
who I love
his voice breaking
his Arabic aching
wounds me.


Only they saw the waves
Only they saw the wind
as the houses collapsed
Only they dreamt of dreams
There were no birds
There were no trees
No hands to cover their eyes
No rain to record their footsteps
Only they saw their photos fading
into the walls
Only they saw their stories
hidden in the sounds of strangers
Only they
they stayed to tell us
they were never gone
they lay in their shadows
guarding their origin
their heart in every note
of every song
they stayed to tell us
there will always be
a heart in the sea
with our names

by Nathalie Handal

Haifa Blues

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The Wall, the Trees and the Horse

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The Heart and the Sea

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