You’ve Got Your Red, I’ve Got Mine

December 22nd, 2009

The following poem is by Tina Srouji, otherwise known as Tuna Fish. If you’ve seen her share a poem, you know that she fuses her soul into the mic. She brings her verses in handwriting. And when she’s done and her long arms have settled to her sides, you feel that she has truly communicated to you the rhythms and beats that played in her mind while writing. If you’re a writer, you are envious that she has the capability to reach so far inside of herself to connect to the entire audience. The following poem genuinely captures the harlequin, schizophrenic, unabashed nature of our beloved neighborhood, Hamra*. And provides a small example of  what Tina calls “a third-world revolution”…

*Hamra means “red” in Arabic :)


Tina and listeners...

To begin with:

i-pod infiltrated signals

as feet beat up

Jean D’Arc street

and smells of sweet Socrate

creep through alleyways in the dark.

When it’s hot:

and sweat intermingles with green eyes,

and up high on their balconies foreign students

and locals exchange ciggies

and they speak,

of bullet infested cavities,

of paper week-late reveries,

of pouring more wine,

of asses so fine,

of bar hopping on side streets,

of what’s mine, theirs, and ours

and they’ll go on for hours and hours,

while floors below, cabs intermingle

escalading traffic grime,

and the heart of the city

comes to life.

What’s yours is yours but what’s yours is mine,

because every time my soul slams on those cobbled lines,

a rhyme plays in the back of my head, now disproved fact,

“step on that crack and might break your mother’s back.”

– But my mother’s just fine.

Because every time I trudge back up that deep red street,

She’s under the covers, fast asleep.

And now the allies know the schedule of the week.

They wait for me, Abu Naji down on Bliss,

he embraces me, pacing back and forth,

our relationship steady,

my cup of coffee always ready.

Bounce up to Younis:

Meet your Mac carrying, starving, struggling artist,

(a little too artsy for me)

intellectualizing more theories on

how it must be…

He looks at me,

assured, the fact is this,

my one response,

put your money where your mouth is,

and take it to the streets.

For lunch:

hit our Broadway Boulevard,

our hard concrete floors our

stores and stores and…

hey…look at that…more stores!

Our Gucci whores and Chinese made,

Our American bread and Philipino paid,

Our French speaking, Iraqi breeding,

Palestinian weeping, Iranian feeling,

German steeling to the core…

and we still got more!

We’ve got Vero Moda on four different corners,

we’ve got Vera Mada from Italian borders,

we’ve got people and people with money to spend,

and twice as much people holding out hands,

for a lend,

a thou at least?

For Mankoushi from Ghlayini?

Or maybe Warkit Ya Nasseeb

for the pretty young lady?

Brand perfumes, next event tickets,

perhaps we can satisfy you with

some Syrian brand Chiclets?

Beyond this:

I hear the crack of ceramic balls,

the calls of young men,

… about ten of them,

sticks and chalk flying,

lying around, Gitanes dangling

off lips with sips of Almaza

goes straight to the hips

Lets bet on this, I say

That things will never change

That life will always stay this way!

And we play our game,

and of course, he wins, so

Modca makes room, lets Jack and Jones in,

and our eyes grow wide as they let all this sink in

and our mouths quickly welcome the taste of evolution.

— This is the third world Revolution.

And this is only the Beginning.

We’ve got:

millions and millions of

roaches escaping busy feet,

we’ve got, millions and millions of

screams on Maghfar Hbeish Street,

we’ve got angels and we’ve got villains,

we’ve got dead ends and we’ve got bends,

we’ve got antiques and latest trends,

we’ve got tagged!

Graffiti-d Um Kulthoum walls,

we’ve got Khod, Khamsi bi3younak

and LGBT imbedded polls,

we’ve got roosters with their four a.m. wake up calls,

right behind Blue Note jazzy walls, and

we’ve got mosques, and we’ve got churches,

praying to Tika Tika painted on grimaces,

We’ve got La Senza!

We’ve got the latest push up Bra!

We’ve got, drenched out streets

smoke spiraling in the dark.

We’ve got the cold.

We’ve got the old, old, stories found

on electricity ridden stairs and the cares

of yesterday hidden under big bouncy hair.

We’ve got tearing cab seats.

We’ve got fleets of predators lurking in

the shadows for their prey

but at least say something!

We’ve got daybreak, shooting rays of pink light,

we’ve got after-hours, with glimmering star sights,

we’ve got noon, and tunes from every café, and

we’ve got the silence only found

at the end of the day.

— and we love it that way.


once they’ve all cleared the streets,

and all them Politicians have headed to sleep,

my humble feet make their way through deep red streets,

and chanting, one by one, they speak:

Lakum Hamra’akum…wa lee Homra’ee.

Post Note: If you are looking for a good Christmas gift for the literary kinds, pick up my favorite author’s, Zadie Smith’s, new collection of essays,  Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays...

An essay is an act of imagination. It still takes quite as much art as fiction – article by Zadie Smith


2 Responses to “You’ve Got Your Red, I’ve Got Mine”

  1. vicky says:

    Tina Rocks!

  2. Theresa says:

    She’s my favorite author too!!! And I literally just bought this book — it is sitting in bed right next to me — I was about to start reading it when I got sucked in by your blog :)))

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