Questions A Queer Muslim Boy Googles

when I hear half of this country
supports banning Muslim immigrants:
what about those already here?
must I send half my family away?
where will they go? it is reliably reported
the world is on fire & the smoke of it
is beginning to sting, to smother,
to make demons of us.

when I hear the government elected by just enough
wants to determine for everyone who can marry
legitimately: do I have to ask permission to love
myself or only others? who will answer?

when I hear the government elected by just enough
has not asked permission before jailing
refugees who look like me & have names
like mine: how long do I have before
they put me in a camp, too? how long god
will you be there with me
before your ninety nine names become
numbers?

when I hear people measure trauma
by statistics, by corpses, & I am
scared this healthy flesh is dead
inside: when did we stop counting
the spirit? look inside these bodies,
the mathematics of despair is staggering like

I am staggering desire into acceptable
parts, manageable bites. My eyes
are not bigger than my stomach,
I can swallow even men.

when I learn wanting is not prohibited by
god, just fucking men, & only then
if there are four witnesses:
where are my four witnesses?
will they come to my house tonight,
watch me feed men & be fed?

there is enough for all of us.

when I learn god
has borders & my passport is unworthy:
how do I bless my passport? I tried
soaking it in the rain. I let a horse huff
its hot breath on it. I kissed its worn
pages. Ya Allah, it is coded with my finger
print, and will never be holy

no matter how much I wash my hands.
And I never stop washing my hands,
these torn flowers           someday
will bloom again       I tell myself
as I am too afraid     to ask the question.

 

 

City of Literature Poems

Dear friends,

If you follow me on Twitter, you may know this by now, but for those of you who don’t: I have been writing poems–one a week–for the Melbourne City of Literature office over the course of this month and publishing them on their Facebook page. It’s not been easy writing poetry on demand but it’s been an interesting experience, especially as they are specifically place-based poems reflecting my time in this city. As the last of these poems will be published tomorrow, I thought I’d write a post collating them here.

1. Greasy Wings on Swanston St

a day   like a paragraph  can be reread
to glean new meaning. it refuses to set
in this city of horses   of stamping &
stink   the high heat a trenchant
hoof beating slick foreheads in
a slow   religious   drumming.
this city brags bout its grease
but there is nothing   special
to this KFC except the tiny birds
hopping across the floor &
darting into the middled air
there to hang     spastic
with need   a feathered fist
small as a heart & taloned too.
a hollow-boned martyr
drawn in by the reek of family,
the lure of a struggle ending
in a slop bucket, the bird
refuses to set.   like any heart
it fights change, wants no more
than to stay exactly where it is
a perfect present dripping
with ghosts shiny as a teen
dimpled cheek. it’s OK,
this place with its furious beasts,
its past drenching the lips
of every building & crane.
neither of us can read the other.
i leave   the bird to its battle,
my own heart     echoes.

2. Love on High St

Love     it’s an odd thing
to call real estate, but that hasn’t stopped
this agency selling one-bedroom love for $330,000
and a two-bed two-bath family love
for a cool half million. Love is on
the auction block & I’m not bidding
a dollar. I’ve been priced out of love
into lust, a simile for just enough.
Turn onto High St, rough restaurant city
of pawnbrokers, Greek markets & coin
launderettes, there is something
for everyone     except the lost.
I think about this when I pass
the Night Café, open each morning.
Fronds of old men curl the edges
playing cards & smoking all day.
You know these men as well:
retired workers    sparse on hair
fat on character     fingers ribbed
with old country      callouses,
smoke branching out nostrils into
fruitless bush. They laugh & speak
night’s liquid language     the kind
that keeps you up into a blue dawn
hushed with unknowing   I only see
these old fathers    in the light,
catching stories in silver nets
of arm hair      at night I presume
they let loose what they caught
a day’s work      a labour of love
to brighten the measureless black
hanging over so much real estate.

3. Fridays in the Park (or how to make a boy holy)

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4.

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That’s all four! Hope you’ve enjoyed them xo