by Allan Kolski Horwitz
The dictator warns the people: I am stubborn
The people respond: each of us has 3 PhDs in stubbornness
The dictator warns: I will crush you like a dung beetle rolls shit
The people respond: we are the grass that gives life to the cow
The dictator warns: I will descend like a hawk from the sky, tear you limb by limb
The people respond: we are all field mice armed with the power of flight
The dictator warns: I will blot you out like an eclipse of the sun
The people respond: we will shine like the moon with her full belly
The dictator warns: I will unleash your sons, my soldiers, to beat you
The people respond: we will offer them the bread and meat you scoff at your banquets
The dictator warns: I will call in my paymasters from across the ocean
The people respond: we will show them the tombs of our ancestors
The dictator warns: I will divert the waters of the sacred river
The people respond: we with our sweat will flood the parched plains
The dictator warns the people: I will seduce you with my myth and my tanks
The people respond: we will become heroes in our own story
The people gather in the square.
The people in their hundreds of thousands.
And the people dance. Raise placards.
The people offer flowers to the soldiers.
Offer flowers to each other.
The people wait.
The dictator summons his generals.
Schemes with his cronies till dawn.
The dictator calls for clandestine action.
The people sing songs and rally each other.
Though his cudgels break their bones.
Though the walls of their houses collapse.
Though flour runs out in the bakeries.
The people sit. They sit in the square
The dictator offers a new cabinet.
An election. Offers an end to emergency rule.
But how many times has he lied?
How many times before promised change?
The people sit and the dictator puffs up his chest:
Once I am gone another strong man will replace me.
Another strong man.
You will see.
You are a rabble that needs to be led.
The people hold high their placards in the square.
There is no choice but to believe.
The people must believe
They do not need another bully.
The people sit. Day after day, they sit.
And this sitting shakes the dictator’s henchmen.
Frightens foreign powers who back him.
All these sound the alarm.
Threaten chaos if he leaves.
But the people chant in the square.
Chant by the roadside.
Resist the thugs and the warnings
Till the dictator does a deal
And the armed forces replace him.
The people celebrate with song and dance.
Celebrate with poems and speeches.
Then the people disperse and return to their old lives.
Their jobs and their families.
Their weddings and funerals.
Who will now keep the flame burning?
Who will set fear aside?
Draft a just constitution. Hold fair elections.
Revise the policies that make life so hard.
Who will ensure that the generals keep their word?
The flame must be fed by the guardians.
Those who will not retreat.
Those in whom the flame burns brightest.
The flame must burn strong
Along the valley of the great river,
In the marshes and desert.
The people must hoist up the standard.
Push away the old tiredness.
The yoke of yore.
The people shoulder the question mark that hangs over them.
They take up the chant.
The people rally round the guardians.
The people become stronger than the strong man.
The people become their own heroes.
This has been Eva Haroun from Tahrir Square.
May I be a mother of this revolution!
The mother of a new time!
I, the first woman singing to you
Of the uprising.