P**CE DOES NOT EXIST (in America or any of its negligent subordinates tbh)
Carmen-Sibha Keiso

Wally Hedrick ‘Peace’ 1953

All my life my father played me that John and Yoko song ‘Give Peace a Chance’ and I swear I did

And I waited and waited

And I have since waited 23 years and she really never did show up

Like the bitch that she is, Peace

Peace is my bitch of an ex

Peace is the curse that besets me for taking $3 from a sacred church on a mountain in a Lebanese village

What I recognise as the end of my sanity

The end of any possibility of absolute simplicity for my life in my human existence and my time here on earth

And this inability to co-habituate with Peace has in a way brought me closer to understanding the social infrastructure that dominates the west

I’m not trying to be nihilistic, but Americans will never know peace

She didn’t come to them either

But of course America didn’t wait as long as I did

They don’t know how to wait, the poor buggers

It’s as if they can’t allow themselves the leisure of it

My American friend showed me an isolated airbnb catered for couples in love

I asked them who they would take

They said, ‘Oh I’m not seeing anyone, no one has time for dating here’

All you get is a couple of fuck-buddies who are too embarrassed to be seen out with you

A few hundred guys already in relationships trying to chat you up

A booty call from someone you regret knowing

But that’s normal 

No one has the opportune freedom to fall in love 

People are too busy flying to Europe for love

In America you’re either married, pregnant or single

I said 'I bet that airbnb is empty most of the time hey'

I never went on pre-empted dates with anyone when I was in America

I can’t organise a coffee date 2 weeks in advance

I tried to once and I was the one to cancel

You can turn down anything if it’s left out too long to dry

But how am I to predetermine the exact minute that I will decide to fall in love with a stranger

Demand they go on a romantic rendezvous with me at exactly 3pm 

On a thursday afternoon in the springtime

75 miles south-east of Oaxaca

And finally when we meet I’ll tell them how much I appreciate the energy they put into not cancelling despite the fact that we met a few weeks ago, when we had made arrangements to meet each other to try fall in love 

Americans can only fall in love in bedrooms

I know someone who dared to try fall in love in America and they’re homeless now

Life without tax

Life without evaluation 

Life without action and exploitation

A real living here carries the baggage of meaning and legacy

I guess that’s why people move here

In peace there is no need for action or settlement

There is no movement

I even went to an anti-war protest in America

Something to do with the American people thinking their politicians would kill more Iranians again


Like they had ever stopped

I asked my mother what the commotion was about

She said something like ‘Fuck it anyway, they’re all fucked’

But in another language

I was at this peaceful protest in the middle of winter

Proud to be among my new-found political army

As it had felt

Yet I recognised an absence of authenticity in the speaker's voice

A fellow Arab who had perhaps forgotten what their parents fled for

A lack of profundity in the crowds reactive cheer

I mean the fact that they were cheering is what threw me off

The speakers were recounting death, displacement and exile 

Yet all that it was met with was the cheer and clapping of a numb crowd

Or silence

I’m not trying to be nihilistic

I felt like the Americans didn’t know how to react to bad news

That kept happening to me

Weren’t they used to it

Anecdotes were told with no anger no revolt no real reaction

The people had come together tired to chant at the wall

Humming ‘War, what is it good for- absolutely nothing’

How many years has it been

Removed of meaning and legacy

I remember my father playing me that song too

And I was suddenly ashamed of the crowd and of my politics 

And I was reminded of where I truly was standing

And I walked out

As Americans only feel at peace when they are unbothered

While abiding by the social conducts which comprise their manufactured sensibilities of success

Clouded by a century of false representation deception and disbelief

Or maybe it’s just the accent

Image credit:
Official website of the Estate of Wally Hendricks:
Carmen-Sibha Keiso is an Arab multimedia artist and curator working in performance, video, and text. Their  practice functions as a reflexive mise-en-scène, wherein current socio-political and global cultural industries are fused with the semantics of social performativity. Chiming millennial diaspora with contemporary cultural trends as an attempt to divulge the way in which we analyse the self within these spheres. Keiso employs a socially-collaborative and research based process, wherein they direct a form of 'theatre' involving practitioners from a multitude of disciplines. 
© Lieu Journal 2020