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Thursday, March 01, 2012


by Sandra Sidman Larson

                                                                          Yalla Erhal Ya, Bashar,
                                                                          Yalla Erhal Ya, Bashar
                                                        Come on, it’s time to leave, Bashar
                                                        Bashar al-Assad, it’s time to go.

                                                             --the chorus of a new Syrian protest song

You cut out the throat of a singer, Bashar,
who was singing a song of freedom.
Bashar, you cut out the voice of a singer
and threw him into the river.

His neck was wrapped in ribbons of red.
The ribbons were formed from the skin of his neck.
The blood created the color that day
you cut out the throat of this singer.

The singer crafted this song for his people.
They sang it into the mouths of your guns.
Come on, it’s time to go, Bashar
Come on, it’s time to go.

But you can not cut out the words
of a song, or the song from its singing.
A song that breathes is still living
and doesn’t depend on the body

it doesn’t depend on the vocal cords, and all
the people keep singing out loud,
the verses and the chorus,
Come on, it’s time to leave, Bashar.

Bashar al-Assad your singing is done.
Come on, it’s time to leave, Bashar.
Bashar, they’ve cut you out of their song,
You’re gone, Bashar al-Assad, you’re gone.

Author’s note:  It is not confirmed that Ibrahim Kashoush, the man brutally murdered on July 4, 2011 was the writer of the song, but he was certainly one of its singers.  Some sources credit the writing of the song to Abdel-Rahman who was, as far as we know, still living at the time this poem was written on November 11, 2011.

A native of New Jersey, Sandra Sidman Larson is a retired manager and leader from the nonprofit world in the Twin Cities of Minnesota who has lived and traveled coast to coast and across the seven continents for work and for adventure. She’s been writing poetry for a quarter century and most recently she was selected for the Foreword Program at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, a program established to assist promising writers produce a manuscript for publication. Along the way she has seen her poems appear in magazines and journals and she also has three published chapbooks.  In 1996 poet Naomi Shihab Nye nominated her for a Pushcart Prize.