Here It Is
Here it is Ramadan
and I forgot to pray
I can think only of you

Here it is iftar
and I forgot to eat
I’m banqueting on a joy
that’s not on this table

Here it is nightfall
and I forgot to switch on the lights
There is a whole chandelier
brilliant in my ribcage

Here it is sunrise
and I’ve forgotten—
what is it

I am to do at dawn?
Oh yes: Slip away,
and come back to life—
Here it is



i am driving down US40
toward the mail stop when
the radio says jews
were stoned by their former neighbours
in a german town the day
a concentration camp opened there &
they had to march
through the gated entrance.
former neighbours, how could they,
how?  i turn
into the treeless strip
mall wondering if i am connected
to every place & time instead
of occupying
this lane only.  in which i am
not german or jew but arab
american & enjoy
a recent model car & prowl
for parking space in asphalt
america. yet even now
i prowl hungry somewhere in the world,
filthy, & somewhere i am cruel.
bosnia or rwanda is it now or
syria these days. i pull
the hand brake up & cross
the parking lot &  double
glass entry.  how in every age
they tear my flesh
& i a child
of god. then i ground-ship
several packages for $11.49
& drive home never
having met the gaze
of another
human in the whole


The Shining Genji

I don’t know what I expected
The Shining Genji maybe, charming,
writing to me, poems on fine parchment,
teaching me twelve-kimono’d taste

Yes, I expected you on my horizon
Like a Prophet of God
Like a Wizard of Oz
To whisk me to wherever is Not Kansas

To seize me up, three times, perhaps,
and command me, “Read the Signs!”
I expected you any moment to arrive
filling my field of vision,

striding across the blue divide
I am always expecting you
and I expect you no less, no less
Now that you have died


The Pleasure That It Is 

In Ramadan, we spoon,
innocent as children
We sleep with the door wide open,
hammocked in Ramadan-time,

its slow-ticking day, its blink-quick night
In Ramadan, we know that this,
your hand under my breast, the splay
of legs, the parted lips,

is not a prelude to anything:
It is the pleasure that it is—
another one of Ramadan’s
shy unbounded gifts


Ramadan S&M

Coffeeless and sleep-deprived, I stagger
into the first day with my face
tripping over my shoes
Ramadan, why you do me this way?
On the second day, I’m haggard
and horny and bad-breathed,
needing a drag, and a drink,
a boot leather taste in my mouth
Ramadan, what I ever do to you?
The body whines its need:
If I can’t have bread and sex and chocolate,
let me at least have sleep
But even against that refuge,
Ramadan raises its whip
Hour after hour on the rack of Ramadan,
day after captive day,
the appetite is dulled
down to its last whimper
The wooden will goes limp,

and discovers the resolve that lives
under its surface whims
Ramadan, you sado-masochistic
driver, don’t make me love you
in the final stretch,
in my triumph of Self


All in Good Dying

People are asleep; when they die, they wake.’ – Prophet Muhammad

I can see dying young,
cocksure, laughing,
sweaty and slick between the thighs
I can see dying old,
steady and bemused,
unfazed by Azrael,
his large muscular wings
folding heavily over me
I can see dying for a cause,
Syrians sniped in the street for protesting,
Rachel Corrie under a bulldozer,
trying to save a Palestinian home,
a Chinaman on Tiananmen Square,
an American on Normandy Beach,
his weapon clutched tightly to his chest

I can see dying without a cause:
Virginia Woolf, pocket full of rocks,
stepping into the stream of liquefied consciousness,
Carolien Heilbrun in her armchair
calmly choosing her time to go,
people who party in a hurricane,
secret sufis longing to be overwhelmed
by something greater than their selves

I can see dying from slow disease, in pain for months,
like Edward Said, seeing it coming,
with time to make goodbyes, arrange affairs,
the liberating knowledge of my imminent mortality
allowing me to do exactly what I need to do
I can see dying unexpectedly
in mid-street or mid-air
with no warning to loved ones,
no way to prepare

I can see dying clearly,
its luminous eyes,
its face like a nun’s
uplifted, full of serenity,
its promise of final knowledge

Dying, I could be all women, fuck a thousand men
from Solomon to Bogey
There would be no sordidness to it
or messy moral issues, because – well, I’d be dead

Dying, I could be in many places at once
instead of having to fly in a steel box for fourteen hours,
my shoulders pressed against my seatback
with my front neighbor’s head nearly in my lap
Like the Starship Enterprise Transporter,
dying would know all the blackhole backroads
through the time-space continuum
I could materialize in Syria,
my ancestral fascist homeland,
without having to pass through border police
Dying transcends politics, especially fascist politics

Dying is smelling the fajitas sizzling
on the hotplate of an amoeba family
living in the lining of my stomach cilia,
being able to open the ninety percent of the brain
that humans don’t use, perceiving,
at last, worlds within worlds

Dying is understanding in a flash the enemy
you fought against all your life
Dying is discovering in one burst of insight that all this,
our busy lives, this whole important cosmos,
is a mote on the tip of the eyelash
of a sentient being shaped approximately like the rings of Saturn,
a mote she flicks off with a careless movement
in her last moments of REM sleep before waking for dinner
with other Saturnine sentient giants

All this is illusion; the only real
is what we think illusion:
the hunger that a certain music makes us feel,
the half-formed poetries that flicker through us waking,
the calling out in love to other beings
whom we imagine that we know

Dying is living here and there,
bits of me, little pods I let loose
stuck in my daughter’s hair,
a poem under some shrubs I let grow wild,
the tiger lilies I planted getting thicker

Dying, I wouldn’t have to try so hard
to not run out  screaming “I can’t take it anymore,”
this being cut into a thousand living pieces,
consciousness chopped and tossed into history,
into wars, on opposite sides, limbs splayed across continents
like livers and spleens flopped on a chopping board,
squirming inch by inch to draw themselves together
into one sewn-up mattress flesh of a human being,
into the single unit of self we are allotted

Dying, I  could be all things at once

Dying, I could be nothing
and what a relief that would be,
to lie on the beach being Nothing,
being vacuumed up into the Universe’s Navel:


Hello, dying
You are beautiful
Always be with me

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