Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No Help at All

My Beloved is no help at all.

I ask for a needle, He hands me a chicken.
I ask for a hammer, He gives me a bucket.
I ask him for cloth, He gives me grapes.

This is no way
to run a partnership!

I ask Him for answers, and he gives me a handful of date pits.
I ask Him for comfort, and He shows me a bruise on His elbow.
I ask Him for a display of righteous wrath, and what does He do?
He ignores my enemies and smothers me with kisses.

I would talk to Him
but talking does no good.
He will insist that I sing or dance my complaint
and that will drain it of every last drop of irritation.
Pointless and silly.

Najat knows how to answer this: Ask for nothing
and build a life from the random gifts
that Allah is always sending.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Here is a fire that threatens to consume all:
my house, my wife, my children,
my possessions, my goats, my wealth.

Even now the flames lick at my face
and I can see it coming—
the utter destruction of all that I love:

my neighbors, my village, the mosque,
and even more dear,
my body, my life, my identity.

All that I am, all that I have, nothing more than
ashes caught in dust devils
wobbling across wastes of sand.

And you, my Love, you stand by
not with water to douse this conflagration
but with a fan to urge sparks into disaster.

Najat knows you don’t mean any harm
—but utter and complete destruction of all that I know and love?
Oh, yes. That you most certainly intend.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


the sky is radiating rose and ochre,
night is even now spreading her gown.

I have the shortness of this hour
to say what must be said,
to reveal what is hidden within me

before darkness shrouds this fleeting life forever.
And I—no surprise—feel frozen in my fear.
No words are coming, no thoughts, no epiphanies.

Night is coming. Allah is waiting.
Have mercy, Beloved,
may you deem the desert of my distress a fitting gift.

For I have
nothing else of value to offer

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Submitting All Things

Last night I asked my wife
if she had submitted in all things
to the will of Allah

whereupon she loudly announced
that submission to me was quite arduous enough
and that no reasonable deity could possibly require more.

I was shaken by this pronouncement
and it caused me to reflect upon
how much wiser than myself my wife often is.

Starting tomorrow I shall begin a new spiritual discipline:
I shall submit in all things, spiritual and temporal,
to my wife

and I trust that Allah
will marvel
at my new scrupulosity.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Just So You Know

Just so you know
Allah will keep picking at you
until you either
bleed righteousness
or you tell Him to stop it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

This Silence is Pregnant

This silence is pregnant
with Vision
gathering itself
to pounce upon your brain
if you will just shut up
and sit still
long enough
to let it land on you.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Desert

In this desert, I see no life.
No creature scurries,
no sign of green creeps across this landscape.

Yet my Beloved has lured me out here and abandoned me.
And it’s not the first time, either.
Remind me, why should I not be upset about this?

My mind waxes philosophical
and insists that there are things to be learned in the desert.
But knowledge is the last thing I am thirsty for, here.

You know what I really want?
Distraction. Because the sameness of the sand and scrub
depress me and distress my spirit.

I want to be anywhere but here.
I want to feel my Beloved again.
I want, I want, I want, I want.

Oh. Okay. I guess there are things
to be learned in the desert.
I am breathing. It is enough.

Najat can really be an idiot.

Sit, Najat. Stare at the sand.
And let the emptiness suck the last drop of
triviality and self-obsessed foolishness from your soul.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Have I done enough?
This question whips at my soul like the Sirocco
and leaves me restless and dissatisfied with my lot.

What is this restless ambition that plagues my soul?
Have I not done all that I have done for the Beloved?
And have I not been blessed with true friends and soulful labor?

Would I trade a humble and true treasure
for an empty dream of fame and wealth?
Am I a such a fool?

Winds pass.
I will stay planted like this palm and withstand them.
Allah, my Love, be merciful, and bring me water.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Silly Chatter

I pray a little here and a little there, all day long.
But most of my prayer is of little importance.
In fact, most of it is just chatter.

I sing silly songs to my Beloved,
gossip about the people I care about most,
and engage in inane pillow talk.

Do you think prayer must always be serious?
Do you think my time of communion with Allah is solemn?
Do you think I come before the Lord of Heaven with anything less than reverence?

Prayer is the silly chatter between friends.
I would rather risk offending the Beloved
than boring Him.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

If I Had a Servant

If I had a servant,
I would command him to make my tea
and would sit in the shade and glory in the breeze.

If I had a servant,
she would keep the house clean
and my wife would have time to socialize with the other women of means.

If I had a servant,
he would carry my things to and from the madrasah,
leaving my hands empty for hugging and slapping at shoulders.

If I had a servant,
she would cook for us the most amazing meals,
which is more than my poor wife has ever done.

I thank Allah I do not have a servant,
For then I would be damned. And no servant,
no matter how loyal, is going to come and carry my soul out of hell.