Workmen restore the Church of Nativity

Among the broken hearted of Bethlehem
Where walls define our boundaries of fear.

Rifle sights from watchtowers scope out the youth
In Al-Aida refugee camp.
Guards and snipers target a son.

Aboud Shadi lies dead, shot through the heart,
A Palestinian boy, a questionable enemy, executed
By a lie buried deep in the soldiered eye of Cain.

Triggers and barrels point at flat, pop-up figures:
Children of rocks and courage nailed by crossfire
From nameless killers disguised by the word security.

Fence wire and concrete slabs complete separation
That divides people from their olive fields and worship.
Despair occupies the stateless state of Palestine.

There the occupation speaks a warrior’s language
Similar to the Roman orders spoken in Palestine at the birth
Of Jesus. Has the reign of the Prince of Peace ended?

Along Apartheid Street the separation wall calls out
Narrative and names: human portraits painted on the wall
Ricochet off the unsettled eye on the West Bank.

The gray cement walls built by those deaf to time
And history form our mirror of a genocide
For soldiers needing to see the face of Justice.

Kemmer Anderson has taught English at McCallie School in Chattanooga, TN, for 38 years. A graduate of Davidson College, he has published in Christian Century, Sojourners, and Sewanee Review. He is the author of 2 poetry books, Wing Shadows Over Walden Ridge and Songs of Bethlehem: Nativity Poems.