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Downstairs, from heavenly Aleppo

Aleppo, your stories will come back to my ears, like a child who sits on his grandmother’s knees.

By Mati Shemoelof

Tariq Al-Bab, Aleppo, 2013. (Basma/Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

Tariq Al-Bab, Aleppo, 2013. (Basma/Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

Aleppo, I, Matityaho Ibn Shifra, your old daughter, a grandson of your Arab-Jews, mourn the erasure of your city of poetry,

Aleppo, how did they forget to save your libraries?

Aleppo, was it not fireworks that lit the skies of the Arab spring? Or were the night stars shining all night long?

Aleppo, tell me who is the devil that drops explosive barrels upon your residents, and thinks that in this way — they will write his name in love,

Aleppo, will you listen to the old, weeping Iraqi who lives inside of me? Here, at the gates of our European towns, stand thousands of your sons and daughters, standing with keys to lost homes, waiting to enter.

Aleppo, rich poems will flourish in your botanic gardens; Free, we will walk among your Middle Eastern shifting sand-novel-dunes; freedom will be tattooed on our children’s hands, red words of prayer will spread in the wind,

Aleppo, torn poetry books fly in the wind; your children’s memory squashed beneath the rubble,

Aleppo, the few who read your heart’s beating poems fighting with those who don’t know shit about the little girl who dances while she writes a love letter to her mom,

Aleppo, your daughters, are the new Jews, who are exiled between the libraries of the world, and inside their headphones you can hear the compassionate womb of the Oud,

Aleppo, we will not fight with weapons that lead to victory. Nope. We will put our hopes in the gentle candle wax and surrender to mountains of words where the sweet snow melts into rivers; where love springs out,

Aleppo, tell us again how we can raise neighborhoods of believers and atheists; among the alters who scattered our souls,

Aleppo, your stories will come back to my ears, like a child who sits on his grandmother’s knees.

January, 2017.

Mati Shemoelof is an Israeli author, poet, editor, journalist and activist based in Berlin. Visit his website here.

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    1. i_like_ike52

      It is interesting to compare this with a piece Samir Badawi wrote here at 972 a little while ago about his discussions with Syrian refugees in Jordan. Mati here says a “devil” is dropping barrel bombs on the people of Aleppo. The devil is unnamed. Similarly, in Samir piece, he notes that the Syrians he spoke to do not actually name who it is that caused their suffering. The war in Syria is a dilemma for Syrians and their “progressive” backers like Mati. The problem is that the enemy who is causing their suffering is Assad and his allies Iran, HIZBULLAH and the Russians. You see, the “progressives” LIKE Iran and are quite pleased the Obama caved in to the Iranians on the nuclear issue and that he handed wads of cash over to them so that they can feed the killing machine that is destroying the people Samir and Mati have such sympathy for.
      This is also why Mati’s comparison of these Aleppo refugees to “exiled Jews” is specious. The Jews lost their homeland due to Roman repression after the failed wars of liberation that Jews conducted against them, followed by Byzantime Christian discrimination, and finally the Muslim jihad that conquered the country and which instituted Jim Crow-iike discrimination against Jews (and Christians, for that matter) leading to most Jews leaving the country.
      What we see here is that that the refugees and their supporters are unable to blame anyone directly because those doing the killing are actually viewed as having a “good side” in that they all agree that Israel is an enemy. How can the Aleppo refugees denounce HIZBULLAH and Iran, who are brother Muslims when they threaten Israel whom the Aleppo people also don’t like?
      Therefore, the attitude is to view the tragedy and war as simply a “natural disaster”,like an earthquake or volcano…something terrible, but not something you can blame on anyone in particular. Sad.

      Reply to Comment
      • Baladi Akka 1948

        As usual, you’re full of it.
        “Mati here says a “devil” is dropping barrel bombs on the people of Aleppo. The devil is unnamed.”
        Here’s what the poem says:
        “Aleppo, tell me who is the devil that drops explosive barrels upon your residents, and thinks that in this way — they will write his name in love”
        Everyone knows this is Bashar al-Assad (cf a recent interview where he speaks of winning back the hearts of the Syrian people). And the regime is the only part in this conflict using barrel bombs !

        You’re just looking for a way to post your usual rant about progressives. What the hell is a pure facist and racist like you doing on this website. That’s what progressives do: they let a******* post their BS whereas many of your fascist friends moderate comments (to exclude comments from progressives).
        And you have the chutzpah to shit all over this beautiful poem which shows genuine empathy for the people of Syria !
        You know ‘irhal’ at least ?

        Reply to Comment