Yassin's Poems

Guilty By Birth

When i was born i was guilty
guilty of having no country
guilty of being born in the East
guilty of taking the milk from my mother’s breast
guilty of speaking my father's tongue

As a child i was guilty
guilty of having energy
guilty of running around
guilty of crying for food
guilty of whatever i did

As a teenager i was guilty
guilty of loving flowers and beauty
guilty of singing for freedom and liberty
guilty of being from a village
guilty of living with nature
guilty of reading history
guilty of writing poetry

As an adult i was guilty
guilty of being independent
guilty of asking for freedom
for my nation and country
guilty of not dancing for the dictator
guilty of refusing to join the regime's bloody army
guilty of being the son of a Kurd
guilty of speaking the truth
guilty of being a third-class citizen
(yes my dear, I did nothing)
but since i was born guilty
i lived guilty, i grew up guilty
until i left my country
but my birth's guilt followed me!

In exile i went to university
which was my mother's dream
i wanted to make her soul happy
i looked for a better future
i hoped to end my poverty
but my birth’s guilt followed me!
then i left the Middle East
i came here to live free
but my birth’s guilt followed me!

And i am still guilty
guilty of choosing this country
to be home for my beloved family
guilty of being a refugee
guilty of having a beard
guilty of having black hair 
even here in the land of opportunity
by the rule of emergency
by the evidence of secrecy
they renew my birth’s guilt!

Now they claim
i am a wild danger to the community
a threat to national security
even honorable judges of an appeals court
confirm it, and they agree
to approve the government’s theory,
to jail me for a decade
for a crime i never made

For us, the Kurdish birth-guilt
is an inherited disease
i got it from my dad
now my children have gotten it
from me
they are guilty
they carry no identity
they are not citizens anywhere
they have no country
before i’m dead they are half-orphans
we are guilty by birth
we did nothing
it’s just Kurdish nagbati (misfortune and bad luck)

What’s proper for me to say?
live long, land of opportunity!
live long, freedom and liberty!
live long, justice and equal rights!
live long, diversity!
live long, my birth’s guilt!

by Yassin Aref

September 12, 2008

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