Tickets

The day I’m killed
my killer will find
tickets in my pockets:
One to peace,
one to fields and the rain,
and one
to humanity’s conscience.

I beg you — please don’t waste them.
I beg you, you who kill me: Go.

— Samih al-Qasim
(Trans. by Nazih Kassis)

Palestinian rights activist and poet Samih al-Qasim was born in 1939, although he sometimes claimed to have been born in 1948, when his village in Galilee was bombed by the Israeli army. As an adult, he lived in Haifa, where he joined the Israeli Communist Party in 1967. His poetry was often censored by Israeli military (his second book, Songs of Alleys, 1965, was full of empty pages). At the beginning of the Six-Day War in 1967, he was sent to al-Damoun prison. He was jailed several more times for his pro-Palestinian activism.

[Research note: This poem comes from Samih al-Qasim’s 2005 collection, Sadder Than Water, which draws on earlier work. See also: Roger Hardy, “Palestinian Writers in Israel,” Boston Review (December 1982); and Liam Brown, “Samih al-Qasim and the language of revolution,” Middle East Eye (May 13, 2014).].

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