Imam Hussain Died So I(slam) Can Live

By Yasmine Badaoui

I’m listening to your story for the thousandth time like nursery rhymes my father would sing aloud to un-see the bodies marinating in dirt trenches along mountains pass to store and back again.

the stench hung in the pines ancient noose rings radiating images of black boys gunned in American city streets.

Napkin boxes travel like gas station boys drag racing down warren in the suffocating Karbala heat,

tears detonate years of confetti from mosque congregation colors cold-press the fires from hell.

A sister told me once when I was thirsty that there’s a saying

of someone saying something about

an arrow aching in throat

confirms the burden of living while occupied and their martyrs fry.

Women draped in deaths guard garb black from skull to toe like elephant’s constant vigilance say life is a candle lit down to waxy wick, life an ivory prison for those who learn the complex well

I see myself beneath black, maroon and emerald banners flapping in unhurried squalls marching in endless ant hill

12 pills on hoary dish gazing not unlike fogged faces of divinity jockeying folding moon.

Bb Zaynab didn’t kneel under anthems blaring for the death of dissent, roared a lion instead of counting sheep across bloody palm of internet memes with grinning frog no princess would kiss.

Malcom X pokes rifle out between curtain gaps aimed at electrified snow-globes he knows they are coming. They always a-coming, for marrow and tongues of Palestine and ancestors lost in the straits of south Lebanon, black seas, red seas,

Mediterranean seas Moses parted emptying into rivers sluicing vestiges of noble family and burning bush.

Yazid the subjugator set wild-fire to the good of the faithful like the colonizers come for your Muslim name.

Ya Hussain defied empire.

Mary shook the tree and never spoke as dates fell to the floods.

My father once saved a pet rabbit under shrapnel siege.

And Me? I sit here with your story, with paper and pen and will ink to plunge and corrupt crust deeper than cretaceous creatures

we no longer can remember.

Yasmine Badaoui is an Arab American Muslim polymath and sometimes poet who dabbles in short stories and blogs for a living. Her work has appeared in PAPER Magazine, Sisterhood and Khaber Khaslan. She is current editor in chief at the Civil Arab, and Contributing Editor at Missmuslim.