It was Beirut, all over again,
it was Beirut on the radio
El Salvador on TV
it was Sabra & Shatila
in the memory
it was Usulutan in the heart

It was Beirut, again,
when we thought Beirut went
to rest, but Beirut will not sleep
until El Salvador sleeps
and San Francisco will
not eat
until Eritrea eats
and El Salvador
will not die

It was Beirut all over again
in Managua, in Antigua,
in the shantytowns of
Marseilles,
wherever the radio blares its
sounds
and I mean everywhere
in this electronic age
and the caveman suffers
in the belly of El Salvador
and there are tunnels leading
to the headquarters of Hope

there is hope in El Salvador
because there are people,
there is hope in El Salvador
because dignity has a name,
over there,
because EVIL is so great
so ominous
over there
that even Jesuit priests
have become rebels
for the first time in History.

It was Beirut all over again
that day, and today, and
every day
because bananas and mangos
grow every day,
because the sun, carefully,
shines every day
so there is hope, every day,
under the bombs,
there is hope, every day,
in the bleeding arteries
of El Salvador
and there is Jesus, the “Salvador,”
there,
somewhere, who ascended
to the Pantheon of the Indian Gods,
and in whose Resurrection we
will believe only when
all the people on this Earth,
and all the plants,
and all the animals,
and all the universes,
will resurrect,
and resurrection is dignity,
I mean,
resurrection is freedom,
resurrection is bread and a house
for the poor, resurrection is peace, for all,
for ever,
for ever.
It was Beirut all over again
because orphanages
grow faster than schools
in El Salvador, sunsets set beyond
the people’s reach,
and there is no
other horizon there than
the horizon of terror.
It was Beirut, all over again,
because the sea rose on its feet
and unleashed a litany
of words,
it is Beirut, all over again,
because poets die
rather than surrender,
because they speak of hope,
and do not wear
their words like a necklace
of pearls,
because poets refuse to die,
and carry hope on their
backs, and go from door
to door, like bees do
from flower to flower,
to leave messages of defiance
in the
people’s hearts.

And it is Beirut all over again
with water on the horizon
cemeteries outcrowding hotels
airplanes bringing the worst
of news
and infinite processions of sorrow

And it is Beirut all over again
because people are running
to keep their belly and their brain
in line,
carrying their honor as their sole
piece of luggage
and counting the dead
among themselves
the way we count pennies
in the cities of Power

And it is Beirut all over again
because people mumble their
prayers and expect the
Virgin Mary to listen
and people know they are trapped
and they remember the
tablecloth, back home,
and the food,
before ending up in the morgue

And it was Beirut all over again
with fathers shooting their
sons
and sons burying their fathers
before the mosquitoes made them
unrecognizable

and it was Beirut all over again
when only the banks stood erect
and money increased
at the rate of the wounded

and it was Beirut all over again
with the sky expanding
every second to make
room for the anonymous
heroes of the streets of
El Salvador.

How to cite this article:

Etel Adnan "It Was Beirut, All Over Again," Middle East Report 162 (January/February 1990).
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