Wednesday, June 29, 2016


I flew to Istanbul to renew my visa -- the simple reason.
     The more complex --
         to try to escape from the image
         playing over and over in my head.

The Palestinian boy, 12 years old
(I would later learn)
concealed, mainly, by the clouds of tear gas
where, I remember thinking --
    absurdly ---
the taxis were supposed to be
in Al-Khalil, Hebron, where Abram rests.

Yes, yes, the boy --
     arm uplifted, for a second --
     then, so strange the way he fell.

The Israeli soldiers,
forcing open doors,
setting up on rooftops.

And firing down into the crowd, the gunshots --
    not like in a movie, not dramatic,
    a sound I can't quite capture in words.

"The taxis are up the street," an onlooker said.
Just giving directions.
Just another day in the city where Sarai,
     laid her head down.

It's not his face I remember --
     I couldn't see him well, not so far up the street, not clouded as he was.

But the scene
     the feel of it
     my face stinging with
     the tightness of it
     as if reality was barely held together
     about to shatter.

And so I went to Istanbul.
     And marveled at the Hagia Sophia
         and the Blue Mosque
              and took a bus to swim in hot springs
                    and to see the ruins of Ephesus
                         and danced and drank and kissed.

And tried to forget.
And tried to escape.

But maybe there is no escaping the contagion
    that stalks through the streets of Al-Khalil
        that howls for blood inside the Istanbul airport
              or terrorizes inside of a night club in Orlando
                   or a school in Connecticut
                         or a street corner in Baltimore.

Different places, yes, I know.
Different things.
Different complicating factors.

But maybe the contagion isn't in a place.
Maybe it's in our hearts.
Our beating hearts.
Our human hearts.

I went to Istanbul to escape,
    and maybe there isn't an escape,
         not like that,
              not like that.

"Thoughts and prayers aren't enough."
"We have to do something."

But you see, I was doing something --
     or thought I was --
          and found myself staring,

"Where are the taxis?" I asked, woodenly.

"Thoughts and prayers aren't enough."
"We have to do something."

And if you think those two statements are so far from each other

That prayer and doing are so far removed

Then you haven't taken a good, hard look at these hearts

These human hearts

These broken hearts

These hurting hearts

These hearts that pump the blood

That flowed out from a 12-year old boy

Into the streets of Hebron

The streets of "God's Friend"

The day before I flew

To Istanbul.

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