Jan 17

your poem

I am trying to write a poem about a tree, 
I look outside and there it is, another tree,
There are trees everywhere, really,
Can you tell that i have never been good at writing
What other people want me to write? 
My pen wanders away before i can corral it,
Always directions to go other than the one I have chosen. 

Right. Back to the tree. Let’s imagine our tree, shall we? 
Imagine our tree stretching up, stretching down,
It must be painful for the tree to be constantly stretched 
Out like that. Am I using simile? Metaphor? Personification? 
Am I comparing the tree to me? You decide. After all, 
It is your poem. No, i insist. Take it. It’s all I have left to give. 

Never mind the devices, let’s talk about cutting down the tree,
Lets talk about feeling the wood splinter 
Underneath your fingers, and running your hand over 
Rings upong rings, 
Jan 08

an open letter

(Inspired by Allen Ginsberg) 

America, you’re scaring me. America, it’s not funny to turn out the lights like that. 
America my mom told me you’re fragile. America, there’s a man with buffalo skin dancing 
At the edge of my eyes. America, I wish this was a joke. America, how does it feel
To have so many people put faith in you? America, how does it feel to fall so hard? America, 
Did you build that wall that you told me you were gonna build? America can you stop 
Trying to kill me it kind of hurts. America my teacher said that when someone upsets me 
I should ask why they did it. America, why did you do it? America, you're being selfish. 
America if this is heaven I wonder what hell is like. America, if a man with a gun came 
Into my classroom, would you save me? No, don’t answer that. I don’t want to know. America, 
I’m not going to school anyways, there’s this virus that kills people. America you don’t 
Jan 06

Matar (to kill)

I am doing history homework 
when I watch the Capitol Fall. 
                  (Ironic, isn't it? History always repeats itself) 

We were trying to watch the 
electoral votes being counted and suddenly 
a push           no a wave 
of red, exclamations about gas masks 
and armed rioters and for a second 
I thought we had been transported 
right back to where we came from
                  (god! my mother exclaims. it reminds me of iran!
please tell me what to do 
I am fifteen years old and I am watching 
democracy burning, burning. 
I am fifteen and I am watching a red man sprawled over
the vice-president's seat, confident. 
                  (it's funny, the smoke kind of smells like spit & passion, 
                   like hurt & tears, like treason & smashed glass) 
there are pictures, guns drawn 
and I watch the news anchors repeating 
Dec 23

to love a villain

The girl is the most beautiful thing 
You have ever seen, oh she gleams like the knife that 
Your dai used to cut up the lambs on eid e ghorban with, would you 
Sacrifice yourself when she asked you to? 
You can remember your grandmother's voice telling you 
Stories older than you will ever be , but remember that the girl is no Abraham, 
And you are not her son, but sometimes you wonder 
How quickly she would agree to give you up for 
Something greater, something more like God,

Is it a crime? She asks you, 
And you don’t have the heart to tell her yes, 
If that is red on the floor then 
Everyday with her is Christmas, you start locking the door 
And checking it, just in case, tell me, 
Do you think she’d stop if you had told her yes

Is it not murder to love so deeply, to 
Kill our wants over and over again 
For the smile on someone else’s face?
Nov 28


does it anger you, i wonder, 
when i do not write of prejudice? 

I think perhaps you love devouring my words, 
but only when they are about you, 

what is american culture but masochism, 
after all, we are rife with pain. 

does it please you, when you see your aging portrait 
hanging in the back of my poems? 

this is not a reenactment of dorian gray, 
or at least i hope it isn't, i hope you won't turn around 

and stab me when your portrait gets too ugly 
for even your own love of ugliness, 

you sins to monstrous for even 
the most devoted of lovers. 

but the knife is already buried, and at this point, 
you just enjoy watching us scrabble at it, 

so true, you nod, while we scream about the pain of it.
so heartwrenching, you say, while we're curled up on the floor. 

does it bore you, i wonder, 
Nov 19

to all the mothers that came before me

Mother,    your heart is a tragedy, 
& your family tree a well of pain. 
I think all daughters inherit their wounds 
From their mothers before them.
Gaping gashes are our inheritance,
The currency of our survival. 

Mother,         i am picking
At the bruises and scabs on my skin
They are the very same patterns that 
I traced on your body when i was a child, 
They say beauty is pain, but they neglected to mention
That only poetry can make pain beautiful,
And my pen has run dry. 

Mother,           we are something so ugly
Turned so, so good. We are the warmth 
Of an open fire and the welts it leaves on your skin, 
We are the brilliance of a sudden spark
And the darkness that is left after it, mother, 
Albert Camus said that beauty drives us to despair,
& you are living with no hope in your eyes.  

Mother,    i am a language that you can’t read, 
Oct 17

icarus falling

There are so many poems about icarus. i
suppose we all imagine we know what it feels like to burn, 
the first time i read that story i simply flipped to the next page,
if i wanted to hear of another pretend man who fell to hubris
& lay prostrate at our feet i would have turned on the tv.
nobody views the tale of icarus as a warning anymore,
he is our hero now, in all of his melted-wax glory,
our beautiful brave boy.
we are encouraged to fly close to the sun 
they tell us that at least when our wings leave red hot rash burns on our skin,
we will finally be beautiful,
finally be someone who they would consider fishing out of the ocean.
be a matchstick for our nights. 
there is a princess you left behind in the maze, icarus, 
there is a girl who you fed to the ocean long before you fell yourself,
there is always a dozen broken bodies behind any man (boy) courageous (arrogant) 
Sep 22

an ode to an aching space

I hold my mangled tongue
Inside of my mouth 
My teeth were always daggers
Waiting to fall out
I spit blood in the sink
And my reflection stares back
Like she knows what i’ve done 
I keep waiting for a monster to craw 
Out of my throat
    To vacate that aching space
That has begun to mean home
My body is a polite acquaintance
& i view it with amusement,
Counting my own ribs 
    Instead of sheep
       He is always looking for converts &
I stare at my bloodstained hands 
Before i leave a mark on his heart where his 
    God used to be &
My desert is full of empty bodies & broken altars,
I remember my mother's voice telling me that 
We bow to no man 
            So when he tells me to get on my knees
I spit instead & hear my own voice 
On repeat & repeat & repeat,
Ghulhu allah & ghulhu allah 
Aug 19

Unfolding (early)

To have your pages open 
in a third grade classroom was 
what I wished for every birthday.

While they filled me with percentages 
of a heritage, 
my history tasted like the fourth page 
of a Google search 

I emptied a silence back 
as if to say 
I don't know what I have lost, 
but I am not certain it isn't myself, 

for them to trace back to a hospital 
while looking at my body, 
             my birthright
like it is uncharted waters,

tell me, is there a lot of sand 
where you come from? 

but I imagine those arid mountains around me 
& their peaks tell me 
I do not belong,
         you do not belong 
is what I hear when that monster
of a question leaps off of their tongues, 
I trap it and 
play cat & mouse, guessing games, 
Jun 01

please (i can't breathe)

please, (I can't breathe) 

i don't know if any of us 
have been able to grieve in a while, 
i sit in my room and watch the country
go up in flames, as it turns out, 
the revolution is televised. 

the cops don't show up to out protest
because we're a small town, but I do see
an elderly man flip off a ten year old 
holding a sign, 

nobody wants to hurt anymore, 
i look at my hand and i am scared 
that a crumpled 20 dollar bill could be there 
instead of a pen, 

i watched a cop kill somebody
and still they're saying it wasn't a murder, 
it's never a murder if the murderer is white, 
you can't realise what power is until 
you kill someone and the world says it's ok
he had underlying conditions, 
it's just one mistake. 

please ( i can't breathe) 

sometimes i wish we could build