(Photo by Ariel Poster: Women tend trees with the Green Belt Movement in Kenya)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Poem on a Cup

“Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera...”

When you are picked up off the street and shipped to Guantanamo
wearing blackout goggles and ear muffs,  chained hand and foot,
left out in a cage in the tropical heat, 
one bucket for water, one bucket for shit,
when under interrogation you’re sleep-deprived,
twisted, blasted with heat and cold, smeared with blood,
when you’re forbidden your five prayers a day
and your family is threatened with harm
for crimes you haven’t been accused of and that you have never done,
when you have no idea where you are,
except that life is hell with no exit,
you have your orange suit and your shackles,
and only the whispers of fellow prisoners at night.
Then, if you are human, and you still have your mind,
if you have prayed and prayed and only Allah can help you through this,
you pick up a pebble and write poems on a cup.
A styrofoam cup, soft and malleable,
that your captors deem harmless enough for you to possess.

     “I am dreaming of hope,” says one cup.
     “Do you hear me, oh judge?  We have committed no crime.”

When the devout Muslim is smeared with blood and pepper sprayed,
are we imagining the Twin Towers falling?
Is this the thing you do if God is on your side?

     “When I heard pigeons cooing in the trees, hot tears covered my face.
     When the lark chirped, my thoughts composed a message for my son.
     Mohammed, do not forget me!”

           “Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera....”

Annelinde Metzner 
September 6,2007

This poem was inspired by a true account covered by Amnesty International in the Fall 2007 issue of "Amnesty" magazine, entitled "Poems from Guantanamo."

Amnesty International is a non-profit which exposes and prevents human rights abuses all over the world.  Read about their work here.

"Guantanamera" is a beautiful song made famous by Pete Seeger with words by Jose Marti.  Listen to the song here.

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