3 January 2018: Lime green rooftop buildings, A Poem
Context: I wrote this poem in response to a January 3, 2018 National Public Radio story called “In Lebanon, Mile-Long Artwork is a Sign of Peace.” I heard the broadcast on “All Things Considered” at 4:39 ET while driving. The original broadcast introduction below and entire audio recording can be found online.
“Lebanese twins Omar and Mohamed Kabbani painted "salam" — the Arabic word for peace — in bright green across 82 rooftops in the northern city of Tripoli. NPR's Ari Shapiro speaks with Omar about the ambitious art project that can only be seen from the sky.”
Lime green rooftop buildings: A Poem
Ask Twinsicles Omar and Mohamed Kabbani to spell post-traumatic stress disorder in Arabic. “L-i-m-e-g-r-e-e-n-r-o-o-f-t-o-p-b-u-i-l-d-i-n-g-s” is what they’ll tell you.
Omar and Mohamed are my brothers.
They don’t yet know we’re related, so please:
→ Let me be first to reveal our family resemblance.
I know, I know: I have a lot of siblings on my tree… But let me describe our brotherhood. You see, Omar and Mohamed are my kinfolk because their twin brain churns circles too. And their circles are so festive that they fashion circular rectangles.
I left my therapy place.
It is time to drive home from nutrition when I overhear militiamen covering northern Lebanese rooftops totaling one-mile-long in lime green paint because men and Martians deserve to read “S-a-l-a-m” in the sky. Omar, Mohamed and the militiamen created “P-e-a-c-e” across eighty-two Tripoli buildings with graffiti art.
All is still Bueno.
National Public Radio was very clear, friend: No man was shot, or fearing being, in the process. Seeing parties did not throw either brother and zero militiaman into jail. The slime-like color was not slime-like; it patched bullet-holed ceilings in new, flame retardant, solar energy efficient solution to shelter us from leakage and too ultra violet rays. “L-i-m-e-g-r-e-e-n-r-o-o-f-t-o-p-b-u-i-l-d-i-n-g-s.”
Could it really be?
Yes, it really is. No Mussolini-Pol Pot-minded benefactor funded Omar or Mohamed’s expedition. “S-a-l-a-m” was made in adverb tense. NO. My brothers didn’t refurbish fire-struck buildings as guilty criminals.
(Not you, silly. I am telling your thoughts to calm down.)
Lime green rooftop buildings ushered in positive vibes of peace with ecological efficiency, politically correct citizenship and kindly neighborhood charm. I think what it must have been to seize that opportunity for creating space!
Creating space to remake, refashion, reframe, refocus, reflect and reform pounds… Pounds of fleshly memories that still scar our people. What happened before Omar and Mohamed grasped courage by its bootstrap and committed to work through others’ blood, sweat and fears to reconcile a country’s worth of misplaced shame.
Did my brothers go up to the sky, waiting to die, surprised to live?
I think and hurt and find relief that my family is just like me – Grossly misunderstood, blamed for what seems like self-sabotage, born no chance for advocacy from other-continental law…
If I dug into my backyard and just kept digging and digging and digging and digging, I’d pop up into the other side… Omar and Mohamed would play in the kinetic sandbox too.
We’d take and paint the Buddha boards over and over over and over until our pigment mirrored white sheets.
I knew I was conceived part-architect.