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A WALK IN THE WOODS by Mark Lipman

A Walk in the Woods

          for Mahmoud Darwish

Mark Lipman

There comes a point

when you have to step

out of the ether,

to walk and get

back to nature,

to listen to the birds sing,

to breathe and write

about beautiful things

before being drawn right

back into Gaza.

And how privileged

I am to be able to stop,

to step back and walk away,

to take a breath, a sip of water,

to think about evergreens today

beside a lake, far from cannon fodder

and dead children, the cries of mothers,

somewhere peaceful and full of bird chatter,

when from above an engine roars, cutting

through the sky, to once again shatter

that moment of peace, with eyes shutting,

as you wait for the next bomb to drop.

Yet, the only thing falling

on me is a rusty leaf,

the rubble, merely sprawling

foliage, covering not limbs and grief,

broken bodies for the mass grave

that becomes the founding stone

for another theme park, but pave

only over ants, just bugs, to be shone

the same indifference as a Zionist

would looking upon a child’s fragments

a hand here, a foot there, just statistics

for the “better than’s” of “chosen” figments

of the imagination. No tears will be shed today.

Yet, as my tracks,

like those of a bulldozer,

tramp over the mounds and stacks

of debris, like some American poser

stealing a home in the West Bank, with mud

thick as blood, covering my boots, staining

the soles of me feet, the thud

of another acorn falls, raining

down from the trees, and I recall

the words once spoken to me

from the books that they all cherish,

saying, “What you do unto the least

of my creatures,” they say in every parish,

“you do unto me.” Yet, they still refuse to cease

the fire, holding themselves higher than all others,

above the law and their own commandments,

and I just wonder, at what point will this all end,

so that we can hear the birds sing once again?

Mark Lipman, US National Beat Poet Laureate 2024-2025; founder of the press Vagabond, the Culver City Book Festival, and the Elba Poetry Festival; winner of the 2015 Joe Hill Labor Poetry Award; the 2016 International Latino Book Award and the 2023 L’Alloro di Dante (Dante’s Laurel – Ravenna, Italy), a writer, poet, multi-media artist, activist and author of fifteen books, began his career as the writer-in residence at the world famous Shakespeare and Company in Paris, France (2002-2003). Since then he has worked closely with such legendary poets as Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Jack Hirschman on many projects, and for the last twenty years has established a strong international following as a leading voice of his generation. He’s the host and foreign correspondent for the radio program, Poetry from Around the World, for Poets Café on KPFK 90.7FM Los Angeles. As Mark continues to travel the world, he uses poetry to connect communities to the greater social justice issues, while building consciousness through the spoken word.

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A wonderful piece! Finer feelings. Subtly evocative and provocative.

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