Ode to Malala Yousafzai
She is a pool of gleam.
She is a seed, the rain.
She is a prairie of idea,
the harvest of motion.
She is rosewater
in a sandstone bowl.
She is the refugee, the tarp
of tent, the flame of fugue.
She is the arms of mothers,
a ribbon in a porcelain moon.
She is a lioness and loneliness,
the newborn swathed in pink.
She is earth yellow, jade,
aquamarine. She is the sea––
el mar, la mer, il mare, samandar.
She is a threshold, an arch,
a minaret. She is every headscarf––
magenta, celeste, amethyst.
She is majestic, magnifique.
She is a luminous lagoon.
She is our hands, our pen.
Published in Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai (FutureCycle)
The raku vase, please move it slightly left.
Not quite so far, that's way too much.
Careful, never pick up raku by the neck.
Switch on the lamp. Let's see how it reflects.
Now move the vase again a touch.
A bit to the right. Again, now slightly left.
Is Charlie's water fresh? You didn't forget?
He's perched on his branch, ready to tuck?
Careful, never pick a bird up by the neck.
Tomorrow mani-pedi at noon. Did you set
the coffee pot for nine? I hate to rush.
That raku vase, again, please slightly left.
Fold the bedspread over, it's a crumpled wreck.
Forgot to Swiff today. My God, the dust!
Pick up the vase by the base, not the neck.
You locked the sliding door? Please go check.
And freshen up––the sheets are satin plush.
And move the raku vase slightly left.
Oh careful, never pick up raku by the neck.
Published in Switch (The Difference) (Kind of a Hurricane Press)
Letter from Iraq
after "Baghdad's Walls Are Closing In: Shiites and Sunnis
are virtually imprisoned in their enclaves. On the street,
the wrong answer to a subtle question can be a death sentence.”
—Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06
My dear Yasmine. Tonight I am me again below our Baghdad moon. I slip off
my Shia mask, cradle my arms, brush my hair. I am intact, though I cannot sleep
for fear of becoming the day-woman I pretend to be. I just want to be me. Who
will settle this chaos, I ask you? How is life in Dayton, Ohio? You are lucky to be
free, to be Sunni with no backdrop of battle. Did you receive the hand of Fatima
I sent you? I must not question its power to guard my home, my oasis from this
turmoil of men. The muezzin is calling––do you hear?––it is four, and other
shadow selves sweep through streets like palm fronds. Since you left, the Tigris
flows on with forgotten ink, broken vows. The moon is high still. We need rain
so the river marshes can fill. I must pray now. Write soon. Layla.
Published in The Centrifugal Eye