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Sunday, June 10, 2018


by Mary K O'Melveny

Palestinian protesters take cover from tear gas, Kibbutz Nahal Oz, Israel-Gaza border, June 8, 2018. CREDIT: JACK GUEZ/AFP via Haaretz.

Hamas has a new array of tactics—violent protest, burning kites and the occasional rocket—to preserve the fire of resistance. While it's uncertain the situation will escalate into military conflict, Hamas alone doesn't decide —Haaretz, June 9, 2018.

Quiet will be met with quiet
said the Israeli officer
and violence with a response
that is appropriate.  Of course
one’s ideas of appropriate
vary widely depending where
one stands.  Rock throwers raise their arms
and lose a leg to rifle fire

based on orders given in private
to fearful soldiers, not philosophers,
who find themselves ensconced
on exploding hills.  Which side is worse,
they have no time to debate.
In moments of silence, they may stare
out at youngsters running toward harm’s
way, lobbing missiles even higher,

wonder what zeal makes them try it,
despite the odds, when a pause occurs
in mortar rounds.  Their nonchalance
is almost thrilling, their voices hoarse
with fury.  Decisions to expropriate
ancestral lands haunt them as they stare
across barbed wire, imaging farms
on hillsides that fuel their ire.

Is anyone willing to defy it,
to announce, when a pause occurs,
that forgiveness is what he wants,
that harm’s antidote might be remorse?
Instead of blood for blood opiate,
perhaps such visions might be shared,
words of peace to close down alarms
before sounds of silence expire.

Mary K O'Melveny is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals.  Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age will be published by Finishing Line Press in September, 2018.