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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?

Monday, July 7, 2014


As soon as we departed from camp
Seven year old Sienna
Started a fight about  how it wasn’t right
That she didn’t get to sit with Brooke
I tried to split the conflict by the book
Why don’t you just sit with me instead?
She shoulda shook her head 
But instead she whipped her lanyard tips at my tits
And felt all too happy to belt
I don’t want to sit with THOSE!

I’ve reached a point
Where third graders feel the need to comment on my breasts
It wasn’t something I thought I had to address
But yes
I have two round sacks attached to my chest
And I used to think I was blessed
But damn Green Eggs & Ham 
Have been served up like breakfast
Thelma & Louise have been attacked
Desperately trying to survive a constant car crash
Cause if you look like me 
You need to watch your front
Not your back

 I don’t need to mention my melons attract attention
Like from the teen on Halloween who copped a feel
Shouting Those can’t be real!
What, are they sparkling and teal?
Do they walk and talk and demand
For you to test them out with your sweaty hand

And damn it’s kinda insane that I would complain
Because I admit I put Barnes & Noble here through the most shit
I can't explain why I leave them hanging 
Down to my knees
Stuff them in dresses that won't let them breathe
And heave my leftover snacks inside their cracks
But give me some slack
It's outta whack that
I’ve always done well in school
But kind of fool ends up with a set of double Ds?
God must of been drunk when he created these
He poured an extra helping even though I never said please
I don't have the capacity 
To actively care for these massively large commodities
I can't do geometry and biology at the same time
I was meant to rhyme not run when some slimy bum
Follows me shouting we got chemistry
Because my crop top can't cover enough of my chest to let him know 
I'm not asking for sex

And NO I don't want some fries with that shake
Or another $40 bra to break
It was my mistake 
I shouldn't have just rested them on the table
Because my straps weren't able to elevate Britney & Lindsay to a stable state
And yes
I did wear that low cut dress to mess with you in class
Because you were a dick and I predict that a glance at these tits
Will leave you kissing my ass
And I don't mean to be crass
 But here's a quick tip
You can't just grip one and forget about the other
Like you're milking a cow with a uni-utter

It occurred to me that I utterly
Would like to be 
In the same age and stage as Sienna
When I was flat and Hannah told me that
My boobs would progress if I pressed my chest more regularly
I'd go back and use my right hand more sparingly
Because these standards of beauty are tearing me apart
Who decided to take the sexy out of smart
Thought if I took my sweater puppies for a walk
That would make me hot
And forgot they're just guard dogs for my heart

When I was seven I believed the only thing separating me from beauty 
Was a pair of Double Ds
But now I need a skinnier waist
Less acne on my face
And to embrace every look but my own
Be pretty or alone
But honestly I don't give a crap about your thigh gap
And I'm not going to let 7 year olds on a school bus or tumblr decide
Whether I'm accepted or denied

That's fine, I replied
Because I get to sit within the bra and skin I'm in
And that's the best fucking seat on this entire ride.

. . .

. . .


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!