It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care to act,
it starts when you do it again after they said no,
it starts when you say we and know who you mean,
and each day you mean one more.

Marge Piercy

Little Mosque Poems
Monday, 14 December 2015 22:11

Little Mosque Poems

Written by
in Poetry

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,
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

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.

The Responsible Bomb
Monday, 14 December 2015 21:55

The Responsible Bomb

Written by
in Poetry

A short message inspired by a British politician discussing bombing Syria on BBC Radio 5, November 2015

I am the Syrian child
Awaiting the British Responsible Bomb.
Each day I wake and rush to my window
Hoping to catch a glimpse as it falls
I want to welcome it with open arms
Because it keeps the British safe in their beds.
I want to catch it and caress its metallic beauty
This glittering message of peace
This reasonable response.

Each day I scribble crayon pictures of
Responsible Bombs
On smooth sheets of paper.
I stick them to our fridge with magnets shaped like butterflies,
My infant brain imagining friendly fire.


The pieces of my skull
Tear the paper
Smear my blood across the wall
Sprinkle spleen and scorched skin
Across my simple art.

The Responsible Bomb
Screams out my name

I am the Syrian child!

A Strong and Stiffly Worded Letter Should Do the Trick
Wednesday, 09 December 2015 23:09

A Strong and Stiffly Worded Letter Should Do the Trick

Written by
in Poetry

Dear war makers and war takers,

twitchy button pushers and mushroom cloud worshippers,
bomb botherers and gun polishers,
chemical weapon wielders and coup-cooers,
battle cry criers and army gatherers,
bullet loaders and knife sharpeners,
death collators, chief whips and spins and
dear kings and dear lords and dear right honourables.
To all the dear Mr Presidents and dear Mr Prime Ministers –
Thank you for taking some time to read this letter.
I am writing to make a small request –
Go to the park, feed the ducks, read a book.
Take a break and put down your war-stirring spoons.
Quit being so trigger-happy.
Give your eye-for-an-eye campaign a rest.
Just take some time out –
do your laundry, water your plants, visit your mother,
pull a sickie, have a duvet day, watch a whole season of 
but just stop.

unplug your internet and take a breather.
Stop winding each other up. I don’t care who started this trouble.
You’re all as bad as each other. I want to send you to your rooms
to do your homework –
you all need to read the history books
and refresh your geography.
So here’s the thing:
If you could just stop making bombs. And you, if you could stop
pretending you haven’t sold any bombs. And then if you could stop
pretending you haven’t bought any bombs. And then you, if you could
stop threatening to bomb people that would be brilliant. Yeah. If you
could all stop threatening us with all your bombs that you haven’t built or
simplify things: if you could stop making bombs and you stop selling
bombs and if you could stop bombing people and if you could all stop
threatening us all with bombs all the fucking time that would be brilliant.
One more time, let me put it another way: if you could stop making
bombs and you stop selling bombs to the other side when you are
meant to be on the other side, and if you could stop accusing the
other one of having the bombs, whilst procuring the production
of more bombs, which you know the latter has because you have
the receipts because it was you who fucking ordered them in to 
be great.

 Now go and have a fucking cup of tea and do a crossword.

Do something lovely and ordinary with your time.

Bake a fucking cake or something.
Since you have all this surplus energy and money
for bombs and war planes,
go and build a school or a hospital or save the rainforests
or something useful.
Put all that war chest money into grants towards that cure for cancer.
Save a soldier, save some money, send him home.
There is not one person I know wants to see another
human being killed.
I certainly don’t want anyone shot or blown up, how ludicrous.
And you always end up bombing schools and hospitals and
killing children and women, because your aim is crap.
At least we are all to believe that it’s because your aim is crap.
Seriously, I think I can safely say
It was vibrating with all the chest beating.
Stop with the King Kong method.
What is it with all the killy-killy-bomb talk?
Are you all drunk or something?
Has your summer of *HW/XFN\ gone a bit sour?
Stay up all night to get killy…
Stay up all night to get bomby…
Obama, Cameron, Putin, Bashar, Letta,
whips and spins and government war stirrers,
every one of you in every war bunker,
yes, you and you, all of you,
all of you, go to your rooms.
I think you need to go take a nap.
Start a war? Seriously? You are going to start a war?
Start a war? START A WAR? Bomb people?
Yep. That’s your solution, is it?
You bag of hopeless dicks.

With Kindest Regards,
pretty much everyone.

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