"Member of the Tribe"

"Member of the Tribe"

by Naomi Shihab Nye

Unfortunately it's true.
Like it or not.
Educated or not.
This is one of the many things
Americans don't understand about Iraq.
Kill a member of the tribe,
the whole tribe now hates you.
How could they not?
The Americans think they hate you today,
thank you tomorrow.
Tribes are like tape recorders,
they won't forget. Don't ask me how
Arabs kill Arabs, knowing this.
As for Afghanistan,
I don't understand that at all.
I don't understand so many things.
Still, we must tell what we know.

This poem is excerpted with permission from Naomi Shihab Nye's collection of poetry, Transfer. For more poetry, visit our Poetry Radio Project.

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is the author of 19 Varieties of Gazelle, You & Yours, Words Under Words, A Maze Me: Poems for Girls, and Transfer.