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Thursday, January 07, 2021

I May Not Go Like You Did

Where did it hit you first? 

Your neck or your heart?

Were you as old as I am today...

in decades of confusion,

ages of nonconformity?

In pain?

I pleaded with god that night

although I did not believe in him...her

And then when you came home, 

I saw him with you. 

We had not touched base in a quarter of a century. 

We came close when I ventured into your non-celestial territory. 

The earth around your grave had lost its sanctity. 

Some even said it had turned into a 'terrorist hotspot'...maybe. 

My heart gave out, the coward it was. 

But then, who has time for sideline requests from me? 

Like when Leena passed and I was under the mercy of family agenda. 

So I could never kiss her kind face, a last time. 

I think I remember what happened first. 

Your neck almost broke. 

Paulina's Dolma was too acidic. 

I had secretly let her in on the pantry of spices; 

her creativity almost took your life. 

I remember holding your hand, in the ambulance, 

uttering the first tired words that came to my panicked brain:

"It will be OK."

It was for a while. 

We stopped talking 

as I started to try 

to carve-out a meaning for my existence. 

That too fell from me, in the midst of life's semantics.

I never paused to call out your name. 

I was scared. 

I love your name. Every night. 

When I read the Fatiha for your eyes. 

I think I know what will happen first, with me. 

It won't be my brain. 

It lacks sufficient energy to extinguish itself. 

My heart will somehow self-implode. 


For my beloved father. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

My Deathbed Vision

I didn't ask for this mask
some surgeon crafted and tossed it
in my face
I didn't pick the tone or the hues
or the shadows

I asked for a breath
for once 
but breath is a gift granted
by the firmament 
to those who waste it in fury 
and fumes

I tasted a tube
and the plastic so strong
my sense of anthropomorphism

My mechanical heartbeat
its string pulled
by accident
so they pierced my heart 
to fix it
and they really didn't...

I never asked for that either.

They said I was sick
in the blood
my aspirations anemic
my wellbeing thin...

I had only one ambition
to make peace with my maker
to be consumed by him or her
to be kissed and blessed
and forever forgotten...

For my mother at the peak of her illness and in the pit of my despair. She had undergone several flawed procedures and surgeries, suffered a heart attack, and just barely made it through alive. We had faith in God and he saved us. 

Monday, September 30, 2019

Our Graves

Our graves reside in many countries, 
foreign tongues give 
that we cannot comprehend.

The soil smells alien 
& the stones refuse to speak 
our language. 

Our graves do not 
recognize our 
cherished memories. 

They cannot remember; 
they were never there. 

These lands that embrace
our losses
like fallen leaves, 
gather them, 
only to 
blow them 
into oblivion. 

I know not 
where I will 
to be buried; 
only God knows. 

I, the daughter of a father, 
born under one sun, 
passed below another moon, 
& laid to rest 
where war ravagers
stole his tombstone. 

Our graves will not 
grasp the footsteps of

Thank God for winds that 
lift our souls 
into many places. 

Places, where the blessings
of loves ones
can be touched...

Note: For dearest Aunt Maysoon who passed on 9/29/2019; a dear friend; fellow walker; animal lover and fountain of kindness, wisdom and knowledge. 

Wednesday, August 01, 2018


It will rain 


as the blood finds its way

over the Mosul dam.

But no mercy can erase 

the daze of death

in children’s eyes...

And no sanity cease 

the glazed gaze of the crying elderly. 

The science of breaking a people

is teaching their young

the art of slaughter.

Ripping up a nation 

comes with 

tucking fright into bedtime rituals.

It arrives with burning

centuries of memorized lyrics and feeding the ashes 

to famished minds.

Rain cannot not wash away 

the footprints of panic now engraved in rotting ground.

This fury of breath breeds stifled survival that all of God’s rains cannot revive...

Fear is ‘the thing with feathers’ that pecks at the heart of normalcy. 

“Let’s all roll out the beds in the heart of the room (for the groom)...the (envious) enemy has died and his colors have paled...” 

But they burned the beds and they burned the grooms...

And lastly they set fire to all the remaining songs....

And no Mosul Monsoon could ever extinguish the lingering rage...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

On Her Birthday

A window of dreams
for my mother
images of my brother
safely home
where it's not really home...

Visions of my sister
sound and safe.

Glances at my troubled self

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Chocolates & Her Curt

He used to kiss her charcoal forehead;
his sixth sense instructed;
she was sublime.

She would return
the gesture with a
golden glisten
from her despondent eyes.

She appreciated heat
in all its highlights;
her persuasion of love,

An appetite for authority
guided her instincts.
and she ruled
her home like no other

When alone with her human,
she touched him
in places
his heart
had never traveled.

As he'd stoop to brush
his lips across
a silky sea of fur,
it would arrive;
a tidal wave of purrs.

Note: Chocolates, my beloved cat, passed in January, 2017. In her 19 years of love, she gave me 17 years of joy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My Longtime Brush

Someone will happen upon it,
next to the mouse trap.
By then, the dust of hours passed
would drench its identity,
a commercial brush...

Purchased by an Iraqi-American
or American-Iraqi -whichever convenient,
accompanied by a British-Iraqi -indefinitely,
at some 'capitalist' mall,
where the lures of 'fantasy feminism'
were at play.

They will happen upon it,
next to the trash can,
and wonder,
who chose to brush their mind away
during laborious empty days of
deep thought?
Who decided to void
their gender,
their identity,
for pennies on the dollar,
in this promised new life?

They will question;
the taste acquired,
the judgement,
the quality assessed,
and the final
to discard a plastic
"Vicky C's" brush
under a
work desk
at a law firm,
and leave it
contaminated by
rat dung,
that at some point
had launched 
centuries of war-triggered O.C.D.
in one single second.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Tall Baghdad Nights

We slept on cool, 
gently breezed rooftops
under clear soaring skies.

Stars so high, 
they stooped 
to kiss 
the gentle hands of God.

We lay enveloped in white sheets,
as pure as the fronds 
of newborn date palms
under the Baghdad sun 
as the day dragged on.

At night, covered in crystal
net tents,
twisting the fiercest of 
gnats' ambitions.

Our dreams as pure
as Jesus's peace
on earth. 

Little did we know...
that soon the stars 
would be waging wars
our dreams,
against our sleep,
against our peace...

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Evil Eye

I left an eye
blue stone 
and wide
high on the wall
staring straight
at an empty floor.

I let an eye
lids lowered
over canvas-covered chairs.

I raised the eye 
above the window
so sky was near...
Still semi-precious 
soaked the heaped pieces
of the past.

No canvas is 
for the sores born of wars.

The immunity from memories 
at the seams 
of our stitched-up fears.
This eye
and the constant stare.

No evil enters
the front door.

And yet
all the eyes 
and all the blue
and all the stones

... could not stop a single war.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

For Sophie, My Beloved

Creature of God
I love you.

Creature of God
who knows fear first
and love when it comes,
I love you.

Creature of God
who kneels,
who shows thanks,
who knows not how to praise,
but knows how to express
I love you.

Creature of God
who protects
and self-sacrifices
for love,
I love  you.

Creature of God
who knows not God,
but does more for God
than most,
I love you.

Creature of God
who knows not God,
God loves you more
for you are most worthy.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

A Foam Cup

A foam cup
sits at the water fountain.

and half the floor is consumed;
the other half, observant.

Struggles in obedience,
and ambivalence;
with some agnostic side-line stares.

A foam cup
sits single
not so lonely, 
it actually stands...

A foam cup 
conveniently near water
close by,...more water
...a closet.

A cup
it speaks.
Ramadhan and
Ablution is upon us
than any abnormal day...

The Fast,
the cup, 
a sign;
it speaks not of breaking a fast
and other 
more significant  words.

Note: Inspired by a foam cup sitting on a water fountain next to a water closet in a State building in Ohio during the month of Ramadhan. There were a number of Muslims fasting on the floor that month. Someone needed it for Ablution and other Islamic rituals. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Time of Being

The prize of solitude I reaped
endless nights of concrete streets
Sophie digging her nose into crevices
craving hints of previous passers.

Dreams of August drizzles
rinsing the pain of parting
though Lina still smiling
lingered in the precipitation.

Rituals of walking worship
in my footsteps
Sophie barking her misgivings.

Hours minutely revisited
flaring contentions
roped into my hair
flying at my face
my life
a sisal footbridge
coming to a standstill
stepping down...
stamping the ashes
of memory
with every stride...

Crystal darkness
tomorrows following
my shadow
against a backdrop of
celestial promises.

A crown of clarity
I adorned
a still world
in a non-moving moment
perfumes of white white
rose petals pampering
my nostrils
as though God was going to snuff out
the next whiff.

It was that time of being
I missed...

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Mama's Kitchen

The solid bread on
the warm wooden table
under the neon sun
that lights your kitchen

a gray strand of hair on
the just-wiped tiled floor

and the Muezzin calls
from the patio window.

It is the dusk of our lives.

The mechanical voice
of the TV announcer
yet another battle.

Still, the scent of ablution
from your palms
my corrugated brow.

You kneel
and the sustenance
of forever compassion
is your promise
as you talk to God.

Your kitchen is not our memory anymore, Mama.
The original
has found a resting place
of scorched stone
in Hai Al Jamiaa.

Here in Amman,
you cannot uphold the walls
of a home
that can gather
the peace
we once breathed
when the world acknowledged
as humans!

Your trying fingers
cannot knead
any more flakes
of make-shift safety
into our Khubuz, Mama...
It will not rise.
It has not risen in 13 years...

Nor can you raise a sanctuary
from within the darkness
of foreign sands
that rage
with our very presence.

You love on.
It is all you know.
You will love on
so we can live on.

And all the broken bread, Mama
all the cracked neon sunlight
and burned wooden tables
cannot bring back
what you want more than life for us...
our land
with your very own kitchen.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Matters that should have been left to God
to ponder
God who adores all 
and yet none
when creations matter

Eyes awaiting 
determinations from the firmament
infinity & successive massacres

Remnants of children
with hands up 
in the face of extinction 
they see in a camera

Torn roots 
as God's humans stand

Earth unturned
in all the crimson
that God can bury
in one

coup de grace..

Source: Turkish News Agency.  Hidayat, a 4-year-old Syrian refugee in Turkey 
raises her hands when confronted by a camera that she perceives as a weapon.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Mocha...Even Now

It was a dark room.
Your eyes turned to mine
for light.
I was learning
of your parting.
But there was little,
I could impart,
to your emerald gems
that would explain
the agony
in your belly.

It was a dark floor, cold and wooden.
You jumped into a chair.
I stood.
The vet's fingers delicately taking apart
the phases.
Her letters like blades
shredding my sanity and peace.

You gaze again
all my pain
and yours.

Mercy! As I grab you; all of you.
And all the green starts to speak...
Let me go.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


You come back these days
Your eyes, vivid.
A sideline question: “How are you?”

Fifteen years plus, I’ve covered your eyes,
With high-impact interruptions…
a war or two;
the loss of a partner or more.

I have chosen not to relive our moments…
The beauty is too painful.

Your eyes these days persist.
“How are you?”

And the answer pushes me off
the next heartbeat…
The image sweeping;
your eyes crying.
“Why are you crying?”
“I’ll be here next year. I promise…”

Since, I’ve not been able to touch
those glasses,
to wipe off the tears.

The brown in your eyes today glistens.
Fifteen years, I’ve dulled the pigments.
“How are you?”

“I miss you Dad. That’s how I am.”

Monday, October 13, 2014

His Infancy -for M.G.

Infancy came in flippant forms,
reaching for letters like shooting stars,
then setting them ablaze,
for filtered feelings,
passing passion,
through tubes of emotion,
rainbows of stillborn ecstasy forming,
and lightly laughing...

in flying,
floating above
expected climaxes,
stumbling over expertise,
like it was some cumbersome accident.

in lowered-eyelid giggles,
muffled mots,
gasping for a remote sanity,
staring at sudden wisdom,
as though...
another self,
had just tapped his shoulder...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rage Can Rest

"Dad, we're getting ready to close the casket."
"Did you want to take a last look?"
"Dad, we're carving out forty-nine near and dear years of your life. Would a last look help you?"
Now, her rage is as distant as the day she was born. 
Now, her face is as peaceful as her first night home. 
No, that was not a few hours away. 
No, she was never here to stay. 
Baby cots do not have lids;
you already know,
dreams do have ends. 
And yes, rage can rest...
even if your heart never will...

Note: For Nandi whom I met once in her short lifetime, but impressed me for the rest of mine. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014


tucked under the sunlight
where manacles of slaves
sang melancholy melodies

the sun
did not keep its distance
its eyes; window cracks
in rotting buildings
and eroding market squares

the smell of the sea
spoke of speedy sustenance
for the starving...

The covered heads of women wandering
of a different vision
of how the Indian ocean rolled

The smiles of men
with the confusion
that came
with conformity.

the stories of bloodshed
for sale
like crimson rugs
for tourists' feets
to trample on...

How they all arrived...
What they made of the experience
& all that's left of it...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

MIA (Ahmed & Pippen)

Awaiting a signal
for his return;
a Cardinal calls.
I walk to the window.

The corpse of my dead thoughts stirs...

All those mothers
awaiting long lost loved ones
every morning;
there were no Cardinals, Blue Jays or even Mourning Doves.

No calls.
All the waiting.
No end in sight.

Pippen didn't know where he was going (when he flew out).
Anymore did Ahmed (when he left the nest).

When they made him read his last rites on the blurred screen,
I felt
the cold white sheets of his bed where I'd once slept
envelope my chest
in a slow-forming noose
tugging out the last breath of hope in me...

I didn't have to wait;
his mother did.
And No, ...
There were no Cardinal calls;
only the DPMO,
finally claiming,
they had found some bones...

Note: Ahmed Altai was an Iraqi-American MIA (abducted by the Mehdi Army in Iraq) whose remains were finally found in 2012. His mother was my mother's childhood friend. When we (my mother, some friends & I) had all gone to Ann Arbor,  Michigan, to attend a  Marcel Khalife concert, he had offered me his bedroom to spend the night and went to spend the night at a friend's home. 
Pippen was my cockatiel who in one month had memorized 12 bird songs (per the bird clock in 'his' room). I lost him in 2014.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


They soar,
these questions
that your eyes ask in silence,
before I can grasp
the tail of their quest.

Your utterances
capture the rest of my letters,
from a gaping mouth
and stretch their meaning
to saturate all the ego
that is your mind.

My hands
you hold down
and insist that I express myself.
In my resistance,
you discover my religion…You.

My head, 
you cup,
as you sip my thoughts,
and relish the familiar taste of your skin
in my dreams.

You are everywhere,
in me.
I breathe your name,
savor your presence
as you grace
my eternal orbit of your realm.

Lost are the reasons
that bind me to reason.

You are my all
and all that remains of me

Is yours…

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February -My Birth Month

It's like February brought birth from another land...
Not where I was born.
Cold and white and despair-intriguing.
The dogs won't walk.
They snore.
As do the chilled waters
surrounding dying flowers
who have forgotten how to be thirsty.
This February was the sign of my death.
Smiles from older photo-memories of people,
They were gone to a land warmer,
where God had more than one sun to give out
And left us,
in the land of Cold February.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Angel Stuff

You were made of angel stuff:
the stuff that is hard to come by
these days...
Your smile would open God's sky
to let through his faith in humankind
But you never saw the sky...

And now you have left this world of skies.
And we lie,
injured spirits underneath,
drenched in self-inflicted miseries of rain
when God had intended your Angel Monsoons
to wash us clean of pain.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Breathing Islands 
around me
vanishing into the blue

Hues of hope 
dithering with the 
abandoning sun

One more hope
I hang on to the hull
of your shipwreck

To find that 
I cannot bury
my head 
in your dying dreams

My life hangs
at half mast
as I attempt to pull
the lagging
images of ​your disolving ​love

I struggle, 
I drown 
I drown deep down
I rise
And again, I drown.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


Like he was kissing God's face,
on the prayer rug
every dawn
as he bent to kiss
our sleeping cheeks.
Every morning,
always . . . the few irresistable moments
before our wake-up time . . .

Monday, July 02, 2012

Our Last Phone Conversation

For: The Beloved Late Lina Hanania El-issa

'Hold on!
Don't go just yet.
A few more words over these lines;
they could be
my last
but, you don't know it...'

'Hold on!
How's life?
I may not know tomorrow.
I want to know
that yours will be good
when I'm gone.'

'Hold on!
I have hope;
not anymore in enduring...
I have hope
that you will endure
when you call again,
and I'm not there to answer.'

'Hold on!
I have saved
some of my last breath
for this conversation.
So speak
that I may hear you,
that I may love you,
for the last time.'

Monday, June 18, 2012

Drinking Tea

I like to sip something warm
when in anguish
a moisturizer for my harsh thoughts
to take the edges off
my sharp emotions...

Something warm
to cool me down
Something fluid
to liquify
my speculations...

I like to sip tea.

And let the taste linger
over my tattered spirit
for a while
as it renders it whole
and gathers
all the wandering thoughts
bring them together,
and make them warm...

I like to sip tea. 

To soothe my tired heart
to help my mind unwind
like an aimless spool of thread
roll slowly away from its core...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Father...Dying

A thousand moons falling 
and the rain from his eyes seeps through 
a glazed agony 

A thousand moons had risen since 
I had rinsed 
my heart in his 
warm wisdom, 
rested my thoughts
on his weary brow 
demanded his eyes carry
my mind 
on the tides of 
his every breath 
till he was breathless... 

A thousand moons had danced
when we released 
our mental exhaustion 
into each other's realms 
and observed infinity form... 

Dance moons dance... 
trample his agony,
as he goes,
lift me above mine. 

Now, that he's gone...
let all the moons fall...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Moving House

We paint the scenes with furniture
and then move in the sunlight
We scratch the moments
on the walls
and stain the floors
with memory

Our life we fragment
 and pile into transitional ‘homes’…

Tis strange that they never
come back

In the mind,
they’re always remote,
forever spaceless,
somewhere up there…

The truth is that
they hang in our hearts

Home is what
our minds will capture
but never touch

Because while they form
The mind twists...
within the next turning point
another home is looming….

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dad, His Brief Case and Ralph, the Cat

He lived in a Samsonite hardside briefcase
cat & all...
In it were stacked,
notes from Stockholm,
lies from China,
sometimes cries,
and cigar smoke.

Tobacco dust, like his tears found the corners
when he couldn't wipe them off his spectacle rims.
Those were old too...but comfortable.

In that case,
arguments of what might have become of Cambodia,
in the sixties, but never transpired.
Further down,
underneath layers of thoughts and words,
what he had proclaimed to primary figures
that had made the wars go around
and stop...

In that case, the late letters to
heads of states,
pleas for peace
in a sinking world...

Then came the cat,
orange and staring,
the warm distraction
he'd craved all his life.

A deck of cards was the only game he controlled.
Everything else had collapsed into a soothing frangrance of tobacco dust.

It all ended in the briefcase,
the smaller, crystal bowl realm of guesses
he could see through bifocals.

And one day the lid fell shut...
And Ralph was gone...
took his life over a balcony rail.

No one could face how he died,
and then, it was Dad's turn.
He crawled into the other side briefly,
and decided he didn't want to return.

He left the Samsonite briefcase on the dining table...
On it, a picture of himself, hugging Ralph.

Note: Inspired by a photo of my father holding Ralph, our cat. His very familiar brief case on the dining table behind him. Dad died of a stroke in 1999. He went into a coma on February 18, 1999 and passed away on Sunday, February 28, 1999.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The People Of My Land Today

They speak strange words
these people that come from my land
they grow legs and horns for sanguine stories
that sit on chairs
then rot as they unravel and run...
They trace images in the air
that only God
can read
they bite their native tongues
as they utter
these new words
like 'them' and 'us'
These people from my land
have released their grasp of their roots
The seas of enstrangement
have filled the hallows of their
sinking hearts
they dream different dreams
dominions where nightmares
touch the grounds
as they enter
with feet
that scream
to stamp a smoother end out.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Eye for Eye

(For Emily Henochowicz)

Sniped in the eye

before my vision

could savor the next ‘thirsty pixel’.

Blue skies

now charcoal

now crimson

and then no more…

Clouds pushing hard

for a way out of my socket…

Blue tears

streams and rivers

and then this drought

carves its bed in my face.

Know they, that I can spell

more names for color

than they ever tasted in their

mothers’ wombs?

Know they, that Yahweh

designed different dawns

for minds like mine?

Know they, that I am the same blood

that pulled that trigger…

And saw they, with their eyes

that can still see,

the horizons of their expiring aspirations


If an eye was the cost,

my cause is not lost.

I did not fall.

Their humanity did.

My poem to Emily Henochowicz, a Jewish art student who lost her eye to an IDF sniper when protesting the Gaza flotilla incident.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Country...My Country

You have a beautiful house
in a faraway country.

It used to be your home...

But I don't have a country
anymore Mother...

I don't anymore, have a country.

They laid Aunt Nahida to rest,
with all the rest,
her burial in a faraway country.

She too, no longer has a country.

You put the cobalt-blue china vases away Mother.
The Rahal paintings, you placed,
on the walls of a house of stone...not brick,
and you tried to call this house,
your home,
in a faraway country.

Please don't tell me, I have a house, Mother.

You too, don't have a house!

You too Mother,
you too,
you no longer...
have a country.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


She brings parts of
that part
of the world

She brings sun
in Turkish coffee cups

She brings news of freshly-brewed war
on the TV channel that
doesn't play here

the story of the
made-in-Abu Ghraib
that no one could identify
at the neighbor's garden gate

She brings smiles
from better times

She brings hope
that people over there
can continue to live
and carry on
to the next war...

Note: This poem was read at Igtham Mote in England as part of  
an event to "Mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War (care of the National Trust across England & Wales, in remembrance of those affected by conflict)"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Walls of the Neighbor's Home in Mansoor

Moist damp walls
and frivolous cats used to

run their long tails
in the slits
between the hinges
of the doors

Now the creepers

run the windows
where bullet cracks capture

the smeared drops of last breath

And cold gardens of pain linger

where some wished they could have blended
with the weeping soil

Now it is...

Then it had laughed
when the sun tickled

its belly to beautiful mornings

Those days the palms will tell you
knew stories

that could warm sniffling infants to sleep
for hours if their mothers wished…

Those days the street lamps glistened

to the hum of love-making coming
from the rooms

Nights, under leaves

where toes grasped grass
and released
under stars

pushing swings
sharing thoughts of


Then the walls stood strong

gathered us in
and guarded our thoughts
less they turn into sin...

Now they hide the hate
and remind

We no longer belong…

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I, the terrorist...

I, the terrorist,
watched the bread break off
my brother’s bleeding teeth,
had he tasted blood-flavored bread before?...

I, the terrorist held my breath,
as the bricks from my kitchen ceiling
hit my forehead…
I could still stand…

I, the terrorist,
took the rut-filled road to get water
for my suckling infant.

I lost a few fingers
on the way,
to a precision sniper…

I, the terrorist,
dug-up some dirt water
with what was left of my stubs,
and tried
to nurse my wailing one,
as he lay in the arms
of the still-warm
body of his departed mother…

I, the terrorist, hated
that my newborn had to taste
blood-stained water;
I hated
the scarlet stuff
now forming bubbles on his lips…

Then, I the terrorist,
that he,
like his mother,
like my brother,
and every other terrorist
who had sat for a meal
at the now fractured kitchen table
had suddenly
stopped feeding too…

Note: Inspired by a survivor of the Gaza massacre, sitting in what remained of his home with what looked like a fingerless bleeding hand...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pale Pink Bricks

Pale pink you picked those bricks
Ahmed went to get them
from ‘Kasra wa Aattash’
and the Egyptian laborer
mispronounced his Islamic name…

Pink, you thought or maybe sand-colored,
as you decided where you wanted to place them
and plant a home in the hearts
of your growing children.

Strong, you thought
so they would not break
as times tried them
and the wars did…

Under the sun
you would touch up the hues
with teachings of tolerance
of everything different...

The letters you engraved
and the notes you played,
the 45s scratched with
foreign etchings
silent as they screeched…
and the yellowed pages
of alien words
baked with the ancient knowledge
you parted…

But the wars outdid the bricks
they splintered the love
and everything in between
and created these chinks
of detachment
that you eventually crawled into…

The spectrum of confusion
dimming the light
of your bright bright eyes
and yet your faith
in our homecoming

When Ahmed
had picked them up
at 'Kasra wa Attash',
he never asked
the brick-layer
if the stuff
was war-proof.

But you knew,
it would survive the shrapnel,
live through the blackouts...
as we craved light…

And we never really left, Father.
We built these outposts of transition
as we tried to stay sane...

In our hearts and in our minds
we’ve always lived
under the warmest shades
of your pale pink dreams
and always will…

Note: For my siblings, Ahmed and Zinnah.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

When Birds Die

Where do birds dig their graves,
brown and black ...
and blue?

They crawl at the end of their time
into nothingness
that we will never know...

They respect each others private
last minute
with God...
before the final accession.

They turn their heads
the other way
when loved ones die.

Then turn them again
to bestow all the love of the skies
and flight...
in parting.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

You Are My God

You are my God
as immense as my eyes can sense
and as infinite as my first fetal memory.

You are my God
too big to be confined
to the books of ancient
or endless times...

You are my God
not bound by
the hollows of sickly principles
stringent or lenient
not shackled to letters
of meaningless thinking
that changes and changes
and changes again...

Those who knew you
spoke of you
and those who dreamt
they did
put words in your mouth...

You are beyond the words,
the books
and those that wrote them
and those that dictated
you had a face
and you had a word
for every rule...

You are the thing
that moves this world
and all it encompasses
and all it surrounds.

You are compassion
that knows no bounds...
You are constant, eternal...

You are my God.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Our Diaspora

In our diaspora
they build a 'Kingdom of Walls'
first to separate us from our roots
and then
to separate the roots.

In our diaspora
the concrete of a living memory is cracked.
They plant weeds of amnesia in the cold cracks
to suffocate our roots...
And our roots cry
And our roots rot in the dampness of their tears
And then our roots
are no more...

Our nostalgia climbs
these concrete walls
and the journey
knows no end...

We anticipate
reach again...
And they butcher
our fingers
at the walls' frostbitten edges...

In our diaspora
we are fingerless.
We cannot count
the reasons
why we are here,
we cannot count
the number
of walls that have spawned
since our arrival.

Our roots have ghosts
that visit this 'Kingdom of Walls'.
They stand
each with a story
looming as large
as doomsday
when finally
'Kingdom Come'...

Note: On the walls of separation created by occupation here and at home...

Monday, June 09, 2008

This Silence...

as I trace my steps back and forth
in a corporate commercial building on the third floor
next to a set of white iron rails and carpet

where the stains
of last winter
still linger...

Last May

I had called her from this staircase
and she described what it meant living the way

she was
dodging bullets

while trying to keep her children sane.

I had not heard her voice in two winters

and in spring when I did
it brought all the sunshine that Iraq could endure
and Ohio could dream of…


as I press my shoes in the carpet
my toes jut out in impatience
but for someone I love like next of kin
someone I knew all my life…almost
I have been very patient.

I have waited 13 months…
At times the silence spat staggering truths about the end of waiting.
At times the lines spawned noises that clawed at my brain and my breath.
She is no longer in that local Baghdad directory...

and I am left to this silence.

The occupation had raped and killed an ‘Abeer’

and set on fire all that was left of her and her kin
and hence followed nightmares that this is an omen…
I wake up in sweat and all around there is this silence.

I wonder and anger that this world can remain this silent...

Abeer returns in dreams every May,
a smile of compassion from warm brown eyes
and a nonchalant nod at the life she knew or knows…
I don’t know...

I wonder if she even breathes anymore…

or if her body lies somewhere…
in silence.

Note: I grew up with Abeer, in Baghdad Iraq. She is (was?) an architect, and single mother who was abandoned by the rest of her family in Hai Al-Jamiaa. There was a raid on her area which was considered a 'hot-spot' in the summer of last year. I have not heard from her since. I reference her here.