PALMYRA, SYRIA

Palymra

. . . at a great distance, via TV, we witnessed the erasing
    of a people’s past, as ISIS’s destroyed Palmyra’s
        Temple of Baalshamin, obliterating
        ancient artifacts, blasting this beloved
sacred site, where people worshipped for
    over 2,000 years . . . incense, flowers,
        holy oils, candles, food—
        bearing the sick for healing,
bringing ashes of deceased loved ones,
    building alcoves of refuge, believing in
        Baalshamin’s saving powers,
        rituals evoking ancestral spirits,
history embodied in earth, sand, stone—
    having faced harsh weather, earthquakes,
        conflicts, challenges over
        the centuries, partially falling
pieces on the temple floor, yet surviving,
    facing fiercely dried desert weather, decade by
        decade, yet, as if miraculously,
        enduring, until now, 2015,
Palmyra, a casualty of a 5 year civil war, while
    western powers fight through proxies in Syria
        for hegemony (against Russia
        and Iran), as ancient figures
plummet into shards, busted, smashed, stepped on,
    crushed under foot, strafed by machine-guns,
        bombed to smithereens,
        defaced, defamed,
a fury set loose surrounding defenseless people,
    shelters crumbling to dust, while the director
        of Palmyra’s ancient antiquities,
        Khaled al-Asaad, is tortured by ISIS,
since he refuses to disclose where other precious
   artifacts are hidden . . . his silence costs him his life;
        the evening news reports his beheading,
        his body hung on a public site,
his head placed on a pillar of the crumbling temple;
    vicious lesson meant to instill fear in any who refuse
        to do what ISIS demands—
        what is the U.S. and our Allies
doing to safeguard such sacred sites, to end the bloodshed
  of innocent civilians; apparently ignoring the consequences
        of continuously funding
        a mixed insurgency, arming
a nebulous coalition of fighters against the Assad regime,
    turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE
        funding any and all who fight
        the present Syrian government,
including ISIS, while our American rhetoric of caring for
    refugees sounds hollow . . . they pour out of Syria into
        Turkey, they risk their lives leaving
        Turkish shores . . . were these refugees
denied citizenship in Turkey . . . thousands paying
    smugglers for passage in fragile boats across the sea
        to Greece, Serbia . . . breaking-loose
        into Hungary, where denied refuge—
pressing on for miles and miles, carrying their children to
    Germany, thanks to Angela Merkel, who publicly
        pledges a welcome for 800,000 Syrian
        refugees, a haven from harm,
who arrive via Austria; England pledges to take in
    20,000 over four years (though they turn away fleeing
        migrants at Calais, who secretly
        board English bound trucks),
France pledges a refuge for 24,000—what is our
    United States doing to welcome these refugees—
        1,500 over a 4 year period,
        no public pledge for more—
isn’t America a major player in this civil war, spending
    4 billion dollars in military equipment, plus training
        coalition forces opposing Bashar Assad,
        awful as he is, neglecting a negotiated
settlement, so ignoring the refugees fleeing, dying, seeking
    a home . . . where is our pressure on Saudi
        Arabia, Qatar, UAR to stop funding
        any rebel links to ISIS and, where is
our influence on Turkey to grant citizenship
    to the Syrians . . . no hope there so far,
        since thousands continue fleeing
        for Europe; not enough for the U.S.
to mourn the destruction of Palmyra, why not welcome
    more Syrian refugees (and Iraqis too), while working
        seriously for a political settlement
        to this crisis, since, after all, isn’t
the past U.S. war with Iraq and, our subsequent
    occupation of that country what began unraveling
        the Middle East, to say nothing
        of our supplying Saddam Hussein
with armaments, including nerve gas, our proxy to fight Iran
    a petition’s circulating in America to President Obama
        to take in Syrian refugees—
        “all we are saying is give peace a chance”*

*Lyrics by John Lennon

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QUOTING RON HANSEN

"Carolyn Grassi's 'Heart and Soul' is fascinating in its fluent and affecting blend of memoir and poetry, reminiscence and sheer invention, loss, grief and homage. Adopting a persona at times, or imitating a seminal influence on her writing at other junctures, [Carolyn Grassi] has created a quilt of memories and reflections on a life's education—the journey we all hope to make from becoming to being, or from acting as disciples to representing ourselves and our art as apostles..."
Read the complete foreword by Ron Hansen in 'Heart and Soul' published by Patmos Press, San Francisco, CA.

Ron Hansen, author

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