When I met him I didn’t know
but he told me with clenched fists

how men’s heads explode like chicken bones
crushed by rocks
and how rubber bullets hurt worse than real ones,

how homeless was nothing
compared to nationless or
defenseless or

how tanks crushed his sister’s shoes
along with a star of David he had copied from soldier’s sleeves
while he, his father and brothers rebuilt the home
they lost during the previous occupation.

He told me without tears
of years and years of genocide
swallowing their blessed cities
inch by inch,

of soldiers with bloody gun butts
kicking aside dead boys
still clutching rocks,

of swarms of children with murdered parents
and stolen land
forming tiny armies in the sand,

of teenage girls with bombs
in their pants

of wars I’d never heard of
through my electric earplugs,

I was terrified
at these truths,
so raw and beautiful

I knew what I had to do
as an American,
it was my duty

to feed my smiling mouth and get some sleep.