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Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Last night I realized that I’m not in a single picture on my wall
Out of all 50 images
I’m not in one
As the clock struck two
I knew that I was in those moments
And my face is placed above my bed
It’s not really my face just a retouched head
All my life I have been told to edit
It’s not done until you’ve reread it
Redraft your papers
Spell check your poems
Don’t ever make the original your final decision
It was only a matter of time before my body became just another place for revision
I just never thought it would get to this
What started as removing a zit
Became full fledged air brushing
I used to put blush to emphasize my cheekbones
But now I move my cheekbones to emphasize my blush
Even when I’m rushing
I draw on my eyebrows in the mirror
And then again in photoshop
I’m a house 
Without foundation my walls will drop
And as I razor off the fat on my thighs
I wonder if that’s the only part of me I’m slicing off
I always liked my nose but last night I made a job out of it
Went to down
Shrunk it down
Then made the photo my pro pic
It’s not just about reducing the size of what my mother always called my ugly fat lips
I brighten and widen my eyes
Lighten the shadow
Line the liner
And I don’t want to sound like a whiner
Because I don’t think I’m ugly
I just have been told I’m not typically pretty enough
To know that I’m probably not at all
Now don’t be appalled
Don’t ask about my insecurities or mentality
I’ve just accepted that guys will always date me for my personality
My priority will never be getting into the top sorority
I’ve accepted that reality
Let me explain and refrain
That I am not ugly
I’m just prettyif
prettyif I had less acne on my face
prettyif there was less fat around my waist
if my eyelashes were thicker I’d get you drunk like liquor
prettyif I possessed a more lifted chest
and i didn’t jiggle when i walked
and my crooked bottom tooth didn't show when I talked
the dress I tried on would look great when I finally lost those 20 pounds
and any guy would dance with me after a couple rounds
I just need a filter
that could change water to alcohol
my skin to a complexion
a jpeg out of my reflection
but my face never cleared up
the diet never worked
my misaligned tooth never felt like a cute quirk
so before I went berserk
I edited out the if
Ariel Sobel is now a beautiful girl
She just rents out her world to Mark Zuckerberg
She’s thin
Has perfect skin
She might be single
But baby you want to be relationshipped in
But no one can reach me at my web address
It doesn’t matter how many likes I possess
Last night I asked my roommate if you can recognize me on the internet
And was surprised when she said yes
I’ve realized that this poem is never going to be finished if I don’t stop editing it
I’m never going to fixed until I stop telling myself I’m broken
Never going to be whole until I stop tearing myself apart
I can’t be pretty if I can’t let myself be
And it doesn't mean anything if I only make the term
Skin or pixel deep
And the only like that matters
Is the one that comes from me.

Monday, August 4, 2014

My Friend Greg

Hey, have I ever told you about my friend Greg?
He was what I’d call a teacher
He showed me how to bandage a foot in the middle of the street
Hide the hotel keys I forgot to return
And that public places make excellent nap spots
Greg was a special guy
He taught me how to roll my first cigarette
And recommended I didn’t have second
He collected all the college gear he could from us
Treated cardinal and yellow sunglasses like they were ruby and gold
Loved a leftover university sweatshirt like it was 2008 Obama
Greg didn’t speak often
But he had a lot to say
Like how we Americans apologized too much
Embellished every accidental tap or nudge with an unnecessary sorry
When there’s no need to ask forgiveness when no one’s hurt

A month and 5500 miles away
I wonder if he’s apologizing now
If he salutes sorrys as bombs shudder on the Gaza strip
Load his rifle with regrets
As he patrols Israel for incoming rockets
When you put on that uniform, Greg
Do you wonder what the letters IDF really stand for?
You know what they’re calling us
We’re used to worm
But Mass Murderer never came to mind as the next trendy anti-semitic slur
And now you must be wondering why I’m saying we
Because I’m in America
I’m in American
The cardboard box and all its layers I’m supposed to call home
I was born here
I was raised here
The only language I speak is English
And some high school Espanol, si?
But this will never be my country
I can never be united with these states
Because I am Jew
I am the well where they threw pennies at in New York
The Massachusetts summer camper who heard outsiders tell us
Hitler should’ve finished the job
I am the Jewish Frat house that has been swastika-ed 1, 2, 3, times more than any college in a progressive city like Los Angeles should tolerate
And you can tell me that I’m trying to victimize myself
But that won’t change the fact that citizen doesn’t mean safe
Just ask this years 90,000 rape victims
The three million children abused
Or anyone who’s been convicted by the color of their skin
Despite what my passport says
I will never American

I am part of country who’s revolutionary war took 2000 years
A nation that had to earn its borders
And now they are under attack
Today 119 rockets plummeted towards our villages
Our homes
Our children
Today there were 119 attempts to murder us
Yesterday they found that a terror tunnel destination was a dining hall
That the underground passageway’s machine guns
Led to dinner
Led to breastfeeding mothers
Not to a military base
To Sunday Night Supper
But I guess they don’t count as civilians

The other night I found one of my old notebooks
And 80% of the entries started with
I hate gym
When I was 10 we had to run the mile
My fastest time was 15 minutes
You know that’s all we have
15 minutes I’m sorry, my facts are skewed--
I meant 15 seconds
To get to a bomb shelter
Or be obliterated
Become one life closer to Hamas’ mission
Now their goal isn’t to #freepalestine
It’s to #killallthejews
I guess what sounded good in their charter
Doesn’t sound as nice on facebook

But because Israeli 5th graders are faster than me
They don’t have to die
They just have to apologize
I’m sorry I survived
I’m sorry that my life doesn’t balance the statistics
I’m sorry that the New York Times
Or whatever depiction we’re clicking on
Can’t make me the sob story
The tale of injustice
I’m sorry my splattered skin will not be the cover of some call for humanitarianism
I’m sorry my father built the Iron Dome instead of rockets
That he made us bomb shelters instead of terror tunnels
That it was more important for me to live
Than to make you die

Is that what you’re saying Greg?
Are you the soldier who doesn’t thank God for life
But apologizes for it
Apologizes for winning the war
Because Jews are not allowed to win
We’re only the good guys when you can feel sorry for us
Because when we stand up
The world gets angry because we are not allowed to be tall
We are a minority
We are someone’s pity project
America doesn’t find us so cute when they’re not rescuing us
Not scooping us out of an inquisition, pogrom, or Holocaust
Runt is not a disposable title
If we grow strong
If when the world has forgotten we keep our promise never again
We’re committing a genocide
But last time I checked
Wounded civilians left the Nazi’s hospitals
Not the other way around
They showered us in lethal gas
Not evacuation warnings
They reduced us to ashes
When all we’ve tried to do is pick them up

And I know that I’m not supposed to talk about the Holocaust
That this is not about the Holocaust
Or pogroms
Or the exiles, inquisitions, the denial or degradation
Because that is the past
That is ancient history
But last time I checked
“Night” wasn’t written by Moses
I know this is about today
About the middle east
Not the extermination of my people
This is about the facts
And half of the region doesn’t even believe it actually happened
And who am I to question your beliefs
Want kind of monster would interrupt your honor killings to question what you do in name of G0D?
And anyway I’m not supposed to involve my emotions
Because emotions weaken my argument
This is about numbers
But what are numbers than how we count pages in the story of us
All the text is out of context
I know that
But I also know that 8 year old me
Shouldn’t have bragged about her blonde hair
Because it meant I might survive the next Holocaust
I know that some Palestinians call Hamas freedom fighters
But I also know that Hamas believes homosexuals should be exterminated
Women should be subjugated
And celebrates 9/11 as a national Holiday
I wonder how my classmates who post pictures of the violence of Syria
Linked to articles of the massacre going on in Gaza
Would feel if they knew the people they are advocating for
Toast to the death of their parents
Because it’s not terrorism if the people you are trying to kill
Don’t have the right to be alive in the first place
I know that villagers by the Gaza strip cheer as bombs land on civilians apartments, hospitals, and mosques
But do you know
That those houses are homes to rockets
Or machine guns lay next to prayer mats
And empty emergency rooms because the funds and materials to buy equipment that could save citizens
Were spent on weapons to kill them
Did you know that destroying that rocket buys those villagers more 15 seconds
Or that when 3 Jewish boys younger than Travyon Martin were abducted and murdered
Hamas handed out treats in the streets

I know that Palestinians are dying
That we are killing them
Do you know
That when we notify an area to evacuate
Hamas says
Run to the target
Protect those weapons
You are more valuable as a casuality
More valuable than as a mother
A brother
You were meant to be a statistic
A digit in an article
Which will give us more legitamacy
Do you know that the people you are giving legitamacy to
Are the 1%
The 1% as in billionaires
As in the 1% inside bomb shelters
That is fed
Who gets to wrap the Palestinian struggle
Which is every bit as hard and painful as mine
In an hateful, anti semitic, murderous blanket
My best friend is Muslim
And no part of her relationship with Allah
Has anything to do with her relationship with me

I’ve walked through the crematoriums in Birkenau
The ghettos in Krakow
Examined the claw marks that line gas chambers
But when I read about temples being burnt to ground in France
Look at bomb proof playgrounds
Cancel my volunteer work in the Ukraine because it’s no longer safe for me there
I wonder if this is the existence my grandparents survived for

I don’t understand using the oppression of one people
To crucify another
I know that we don’t look like the good guys
That we have an army
And their defense is putting children in front of bullets
I think of Greg putting out that cigarette
And I don’t see a baby killer
Do you know there were 5 cease fires
And Hamas violated every one?
Because hey, what’s the point of a militant group without a war?
Did you know that we want peace?
That we greet and goodbye each other with that message?
Shalom Palestine
Hello brothers
Shalom Hamas
Goodbye terrorists
Oseh shalom b'imromav
Make peace your greatest example
Hu ya'aseh shalom aleinu
He who will make peace for us all
V'al kol Yisrael
And in all of Israel
V'imru amen
We agree
Do you know what we sing in our rallies?
I know Gaza’s civlians are falling
And that is a massacre
And it’s not the same as the loss of our soldiers

But do you know my friend Greg?

. . .

. . .


Ariel is available and interested in anything creative!
For spoken word performances & workshops, web & graphic design, or other writing/film projects please contact via email at arielsob@usc.edu.
New York & Los Angeles work preferred!