Monday, 14 December 2015 22:11

Little Mosque Poems

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in Poetry
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Little Mosque Poems

Little Mosque Poems
By Mohja Kahf

In my little mosque
there is no room for me to pray.
I am turned away faithfully
five times a day

My little mosque:
so meagre
in resources, yet
so eager
to turn away
a woman or a stranger

My little mosque
is penniless, behind on rent
Yet it is rich in anger—
every Friday, coins of hate
are generously spent

My little mosque is poor yet
every week we are asked to give
to buy another curtain
to partition off the women,
or to pave another parking space

I would like to build
a little mosque
without a dome
or minaret
I’d hang a sign
over the door:
Bad Muslims
welcome here
Come in, listen
to some music,
sharpen
the soul’s longing,
have a cigarette

I went to the mosque
when no one was there
and startled two angels
coming out of a broom closet
“Are they gone now?” one said
They looked relieved

My little mosque
has a big sense of humor
Not

My little mosque has a Persian carpet
depicting trees of paradise
in the men’s section, which you enter
through a lovely classical arch
The women’s section features—
well, nothing

Piety dictates that men enter
my little mosque through magnificent columns
Piety dictates
that women enter
my little mosque
through the back alley,
just past the crack junkie here
and over these fallen garbage cans

My little mosque used to be democratic
with a rotating imam
we chose from among us every month
Now my little mosque has an appointed imam
trained abroad
No one can dispute his superior knowledge

I miss having a mosque,
driving by and seeing cars lining the streets,
people double-parking, desperate
to catch the prayer in time
I miss noticing, as they dodge across traffic
toward the mosque entrance between
buses and trucks,
their long chemises fluttering,
that trail of gorgeous fabrics Muslims leave,
gossamer, the colors of hot lava, fantastic shades
from the glorious places of the earth
I miss the stiff, uncomfortable men
looking anywhere but at me when they meet me,
and the double-faced women
full of judgment, and their beautiful
children shining
with my children. I do

I don’t dream of a perfect mosque
I just want roomfuls of people to kiss every week
with the kisses of Prayer and Serenity,
and a fat, multi-trunked tree
collecting us loosely for a minute under
its alive and quivering canopy

Marshmallows are banned
from my little mosque
because they might
contain gelatin derived from pork enzymes
but banality is not banned,
and yet verily,
banality is worse than marshmallows

My little mosque
is fearful to protect itself
from the bricks of bigots
through its window
Doesn’t my little mosque know
the way to protect its windows
is to open its doors?

I know the bricks of bigots
are real
I wish I could protect my little mosque
with my body as a shield

I love my dysfunctional little mosque
even though I can’t stand it

I would like to find a little mosque
where my Christian grandmother
and my Jewish great-uncle the rebbe
and my Buddhist cousin
and my Hindu neighbor
would be as welcome
as my staunchly Muslim mom and dad

My little mosque is as decrepit
as my little heart. Its narrowness
is the narrowness in me. Its windows
are boarded up like the part of me that prays

I went to the mosque
when no one was there
No One was sweeping up
She said: This place is just a place
Light is everywhere. Go, live in it.

Read 552 times Last modified on Saturday, 09 January 2016 11:29
Mohja Kahf

Mohja Kahf was born in Syria. She is a widely published poet and author.