Poetry > Tenne


The Home Key

  “Everybody has their Jews, and for the Israelis it’s the Palestinians”  
   – Primo Levi
His veins-grooved hands grip a rusty chain
linked to a two-teethed, chunky jarred  key.
His stringy, tobacco- specked beard rests on a weedy chest,

soaking  up water-steamed smoke,

curling out of a piped Hookah’s “jaw”  .


“Marhaba” Abu-Ali welcomes guests to his tent.

Wrapping  reverently his treasured key,

he places it solemnly in a small  pouch

dangling from a shabby, worn-out robe.

There the key motionlessly waits

to return to Abu-Ali’s stolen home and land.


But I was only a child then and blissfully unaware

of the Nakba -catastrophe- of the year forty eight.


My long-forgotten friend has a golden chain

holding a sparkling, brassy, super-cut  key .

It safely locks his white-painted house,

built on Abu-Ali’s old home and ground.

A high-speed shiny car is haughtily parked

where Abu Ali’s chicken used to run about.


Ancient silver-leafed olive trees were uprooted in haste, 

the orange orchard has gone without a trace

Barrack- like concreted new town was built 

to replace  Abu-Ali’s village and fields.

It has no memory of the stone-built houses and flat- roof huts,

clung  to a hilly terrain  of  forsaken past.


But I am not a child anymore and am fully aware:

Abu-Ali will perish with his home key in his hands,

harbouring a futile  yearning to return.

My long-forgotten friend is there to stay.

And I? Living  my splintered life in a far-flung land ,

keep  seeking justice for Abu-Ali and Palestine.

My youth has unnoticeably slipped by, but I am still on the march,

shouting “free, free Palestine”.


A personal appeal?  A guilt-infused confession?

An agitated self-expression?

I could not break away from my soul-crushing past,

even if I sometimes try.

Yet, I know, words of truth alone are not enough,

and there is no one out there to listen , or act –

I should, you should, the  deceitful  masters of arms should.

We are all on trial, but where is the judge

to let justice be unlocked and done?


clip_image001clip_image002Getty Images

A Palestinian man holds an old iron key symbolizing the homes people lost in 1948 when the Jewish state of Israel was created, on May 11, 2010 in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, during a gathering to mark the 63th anniversary of the ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe). Nakba means ‘catastrophe’ in reference to the birth of the state of Israel 63 years ago in British-mandate Palestine, which led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who either fled or were driven out of their homes during the 1948 war over Israel’s creation

Ruth Tenne confronted her ingrained Zionist heritage in the aftermath of the 1967 “six days war” and became an active member of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the BDS movement and Jews for Justice for Palestinians.  In this capacity she published a number of articles, book reviews, and letters in the media, including  Middle-East Online, Media Monitors Network, Palestine Chronicle, PulseMedia, International socialism Journal, Socialist Review, Palestine News, the Morning Star and Islamic Times, as well as  an essay based on  childhood memories at the time of the Naqba  which was published by Sentinel Literary Quarterly (October-December 2010)

2 responses to “Poetry > Tenne

  1. Poetry has been accorded a utatss in to-day’s headlines,December 6th. that it ordinarily never ever enjoys! BBC Radio 4 s flagship morning news programme, To-day carried an item about Ted Hughes’ elevation to Poets’Corner at Westminster Abbey. BBC local radio,or rather what’s left of it,also contrated on Ted Hughes,being the proverbial local lad being born and having lived his early years in Mytholmroyd near Halifax. The accepted nomenclature of the great and good of British poets down the centuries are commemorated in the South transept of Westminster Abbey. The ceremony and modicum of pomp surrounding this artificed transformation from dead poet to dead famous poet,at least puts the literary arts and its living and vital culturally symbiotic relationship with community and society in the spotlight. Luckily for Ted Hughes’ legacy he wasn’t born or brought up here in Wakefield,otherwise no-one would ever have got to hear of him alive or dead. And (never begin a sentence with one),as for Poets’ Corner,assignment to its mock-hallowed allotment is in the gift of The Dean of Westminster alone. The good news is that another Poets’ Corner will be inaugurated early in the new year right here in Wakefield at Destiny Church.The crucial difference and unique selling point of this Poets’ Corner is that it will be a dedicated space,set aside to only feature the Living Poets who are registered with

  2. Many thanks for publishing my poem – The Home Key.

    I hope it would be read by the wide-ranging readershp of SLQ.

    Best wishes

    Ruth Tenne

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