Recent poem, appeared in the Marin Poetry Center Anthology 2020

telling you pic

I’m Telling You 

my granddaughters are not held in cages with blankets of foil.
They eat mac and cheese, sip lemonade on the porch
above the garden. Their mother brings sweaters and warm pie.

It’s a kind of salvation for me that they are ok.

The girls are not hearing explosions, breathing bomb-dust,
not told to blow themselves up in God’s name.

They are not on a raft at sea.

I’m not at sea. My bed is not a raft.
My bed with fluffy pillows is in a mountain room
in a wooden house with a front door by the driveway.

My belt is not strapped with explosives.
My belt holds
a pouch with lip gloss, a pen and some cash.
It has two zippers.
I’m telling you the details because I can.

My feet are without dirt and wounds and bruises, nor numb
with cold from the water splashing them.
My darlings do not have to endure
scraps for shoes. They are not pulled away
from their mother and shipped somewhere
behind a wire fence—just held there
until they begin to forget

their mother’s voice, and who they were before.

<>  <>  <>

Poems from UNTOLD: A History of the Wives of Prophet Muhammad, Monkfish Books, 2010

Who do you think you are?
Who said you could do this? Who
are your ancestors, professors, godparents,
your stewards of the seen and unseen?
Locate for us your committee of yes.
List your lectures, your papers, the degrees
which announce your right to write
about the Prophet’s wives.
Who is your imam? Where is his mosque?
If you are unable to answer
a curious sister, who do you think you are,
imagining Khadija?
If there is no one to speak for you,
you must defend yourself.
I am a pilgrim, a pen with child’s heart,
following the foremothers through
doors shut on centuries of stolen words, across
floors now hushed in Saudi cement, down
steps to the cellar filled with the Hijaz story-jars.
Unsealed, the jars open their mouths,
speak to me. I listen.
I splash water on my face,
as Khadija did. Sometimes I speak
as harshly as Hafsa. I ask
forgiveness, in the way of Aisha.
Far from the Great River of my birth,
as Mariya was from hers,
in Zaynab’s wake, I swim amid
the Names of God. Like each
of these women, I touch
my forehead to the ground and say:
no god but God.
I am here with a message:
conversation with these women
will never end.    <>   <>
[Hijaz – Western Arabian Penninsula, includes Mecca and Medina]

Owner’s Manual: the Howdah
The father of this howdah is dawn with no birds. Its mother is a lost prayer. This is the story of Aisha, the ride to Basra, the sidewise motion of war. It is equal parts the camel’s wobbly stride and a woman’s keen eye.
The howdah is a covered platform strapped to a camel’s back. Some facts about the howdah:
ONE.            It’s arrow proof.
TWO.           One can peer out through the slits.
THREE.      Dismounting requires that the camel kneel or fall.
Aisha travels inside a howdah. When her army comes to Hawa’ab, the local dogs set up a ceaseless howl.
Beware the barking dogs of Hawa’ab. She hears him say, “Turn back and do it now!”  Were those the Prophet’s words?
Aisha’s generals bark and bark around her. She wishes they’d shut up. She rides on.
More things to know about the howdah:
ONE.            It’s a fairly safe observation post in a battle
TWO.            Above the battle, it’s a rallying point for the troops.
THREE.       It’s a Pandora’s Box.
A war begins and ends in hemorrhage.  Ten thousand dead and dying men surround Aisha’s tall, red camel.
What happens to a howdah during a battle:
ONE.            In a fierce battle it can become a target.
TWO.           If the camel falls, the howdah crashes from a great height.
THREE……. al Hawdaj, al Haddun!The other side claims victory.
The daughter of this story is a crushed bird. Its son is a desire for peace folded in to that unspeakable war. This is the story of Aisha as Shahida. The story over and over, between one breath and the next, anywhere else than this. Any other outcome. <> <>
[shahida is witness]


unwrapped (al-kishaf )
A veil was lifted, and her stillness
seized him there at the doorway, in a glare
of morning sun. Muhammad lost
his words, dropped composure into the well
of Zaynab’s face, glance, and beauty mark;
then struggled to balance his voice on the spoon
of what he was about to say, so as not
to break the future like an egg.
And if the egg held something clear and
glorious — as in God’s command, a wedding,
Attar’s hoopoe and the thirty birds passing
through seven valleys of love — then
then it’s sure to happen: a tapping, cracks,
new life here in the open, unwrapped.  
<> <>
For poems from the second book: Fatima’s Touch: Poems and Stories of the Daughter of the Prophet go to Fatima ‘s Touch here on completeword.wordpress.com

3 thoughts on “Poems”

  1. I am so much surprise Pir Shabda kahn ji shared this link on face book and Subhanallah alhamdulillah so much learn on it cool pictures and a great works memorable moments its Beauty i love it
    YA Mother tamam ji


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