On My 88thBirthday: A Reflection

POETRY FORMAT, 20 May 2019

Richard Falk – TRANSCEND Media Service

Poem at Springtime

Theodor Adorno’s unforgettable remark of 1983 continues to challenge and even haunt: “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.”  When I first encountered such a startling sentiment, I was grateful to be reminded that to engage normally involves turning a blind eye toward acute and massive suffering, at least briefly.

Today there are many horrors inflicted on innocent decent people whether on the southern border of the United States, Rakhine State in Myanmar, Gaza, Yemen, Syria, Honduras, among the poor and strife-ridden everywhere.  Yet to be on the side of justice is to embrace the glories of life, and to live well is to dream poetically.

My short poem is intended as a gesture of celebration, a welcoming of Spring in dark times, indefensible yet indispensable. Maybe also somewhat self-indulgent, an undeserved respite from grief and grievances.

Berlin, 13 Nov 2018 – Rev. 20 Apr 2019


On My 88thBirthday: A Reflection

To be almost 90
And happy
With good health

Feels almost criminal
Amid Satanic happenings
Raising Images too dark
To seem real

Children in Gaza
Are shot and killed
Friday after Friday
By designated assassins

Khashoggi’s murder
An unspeakable crime
Yet only a PR problem
For hard men of power

Events this dark
And this numerous
Form storm clouds

Will despair be our fate?
Is this truly our world?
Are we even meant to survive?

My hope– to live
Long enough to shout
An everlasting ‘No’

And may so affirming
Become my last word
Become my testament
Of hope for all that lives


Richard Falk is a member of the TRANSCEND Network, an international relations scholar, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, Distinguished Research Fellow, Orfalea Center of Global Studies, UCSB, author, co-author or editor of 40 books, and a speaker and activist on world affairs. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies, and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. His most recent book is Achieving Human Rights (2009).

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