Elegy for Alaa Mashzoub

Blind assassins can’t

erase your words, written in

ink, can’t erase your

message. Thirteen bullets and

they think they have silenced you


but ink outlives blood,

and paper weighs more than rock,

and scissors, they can

cut off your tongue, but your voice

will outlive them all.



*Alaa Mashzoub, 51, was shot 13 times on Saturday evening by two armed men in front of his house in Bab Al Khan, a neighbourhood in the heart of Karbala. He was an Iraqi poet known for his criticism of corruption and foreign interference in his country.

Posted in Arabic Poetry, haiku, Iran, Iraq, murder, poem, Poetry, poetry for peace, tanka, Uncategorized, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


You blink and it’s gone

an entire decade, gone

gone like a goodbye


so too a hello

in a cafe basement, with

strong coffee, long gone


caffeine jitters, gone

mix tapes and letters, all gone

buried somewhere deep


beneath scars and brain

cells killed at shitty dive bars,

long dead but still there


and the film still plays

somewhere in the universe

but one night only


no dress rehearsal

no encore, no off Broadway

memories show up


but never on time

and they always fade away

and the jukebox plays


depressing songs, on

and on and on and on, and

then the music’s gone


but you’re left humming

and there’s no more mind-numbing

no more ways to stop


the band, and you’re lost

adrift in the universe

paddling away


from land because this

is home, these planets, these stars

and then you breathe deep


and you’re jolted out

of sleep, and awake now you

can still hear music


can still hear the waves

crashing in the distance, can

still hear the sound


of that empty mug

being set down on that old

coffee-stained table







Posted in haiku, poem, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Wake Up And Smell The Falafel

We better wake up and smell the falafel

and go to bed always dreaming of waffles

let’s peel some potatoes and make shepherds pie

and get ourselves a fresh lamb sandwich on rye

lets eat our way through old imperial colonies

and grill our sandwiches on naan

with a dozen types of cheese…

but won’t you please leave your dishes

when Uncle Sam sends you home

no hard feelings,

peace, and paz

salaam, and shalom

we sure don’t want a wall

but we pay for each brick

and American food

just keeps making us sick

but we can’t pick fresh fruit

when the tree is cut down

and where is our conscience

as more refugees drown

and our towns and our cities

were all built on graves

and both Main Street and Wall Street

were built up by slaves

and today’s refugees are all tired


and poor

and they are all victims

of imperial war

so smell the falafel

and thank God that it’s here

because it’s delicious

and there’s nothing to fear

except fear itself

and of course bigotry

and hatred

and violence

and inhumanity

and bricks in the wall

and bombs in the sky

and MRAP’s on the Boulevard

and a plank in your eye.

Posted in poem, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

Diamonds and Deities

Our ancestors weren’t trying

quite as hard as we are

to go extinct

in fact

our ancestors weren’t trying at all

but here we are

trying so hard

to rip out our lungs,

and we’re slitting our wrists

for barrels of oil

wasting our lives in this mindless toil

and the royals all still get the spoils

as they keep us chasing diamonds and deities

and the rifle recoils

and we’re left with the smoking gun

never understanding what we’ve done

and we’re laying here bleeding out

pleading with God

we’re too blind to see

we are the death squad

and God doesn’t listen

when our focus is me

and we don’t give a fuck about


and the air that we need

comes from trees we cut down

and if Jesus existed

he was certainly brown

but we still frown and think to ourselves

‘woe is me’

as we drop bombs and wonder

why refugees flee

and it’s tea time in London

and the queen counts the bones

it was she who taught us

how to throw stones.




Posted in poem, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

March Against The Disease

The President isn’t the disease

he’s only a symptom

and the disease isn’t new,

it’s not worse now

than it was a couple of years ago

or a couple of decades ago

or a couple of centuries ago.

The disease isn’t about hatred and bigotry

or violence and war

it isn’t about immigration or deportation

or healthcare or education

it isn’t about student loan debt and abortion

or women’s rights and human rights

it isn’t about racist drug laws

or cops killing without just cause

it isn’t about police officers and private prisons

or more money used to incarcerate than to educate


It is now, and has only ever been

about fear.

Certainly, it’s also about greed

but where does greed come from

if not from a place of fear?

and not the fear of one man

or the greed of one man

but the fear of a nation

and the greed of a nation.

The President is not the disease.

Bernie or Oprah can win in 2020

and, while things will certainly seem better

and things will certainly look better

and things will certainly feel better

and, of course, things will be better

that’s only because the terrifying symptoms

will have subsided

but just beneath the surface

there the disease will be,

and just out of sight

there the drones will fly

and the bombs will drop

and the civilians will die

just as they do today,

just as they did a couple of years ago

and a couple of decades ago

and a couple of centuries ago

and so it goes…

but it doesn’t have to

me and you have the power

you and me hold the key to Eden

you and me can stop the disease,

we have the cure

and I’m sure

because I’ve seen

with my own two eyes

how fast a fire dies

if you stop adding fuel

I’ve caught a glimpse

of the golden rule

and this I know

symptoms come and go

but the disease will continue to grow

though it may slow from time to time,

marching on Washington

and shouting rhymes

won’t bring rights to women

or stop civilians from dying

in Baghdad or Baltimore

oh, I wish I was lying.

Marching, holding signs

is a cathartic drug

but the disease will always linger

until we pull the plug.


No, the President isn’t the disease

the disease is a nation

conceived in greed

and birthed in slavery and genocide.

We can avert our eyes,

and try to hide from the truth

but the truth will always blink Morse code,

the truth will always let us know

that something isn’t right

we will never find peace,

will will never feel quite right

as long as we buy the bombs

that drop out of sight

wrong is wrong,

and right is right

and civil rights should mean for all

and human rights should mean for all

and women’s rights should mean for all,

but we always fall short, don’t we?

somehow, we just can’t see

that Sandra Bland was a woman

and Tarika Wilson was a woman

and Renee Davis was a woman

and Loreal Tsingine was a woman

and there are countless other women of color

killed by the state

and there are countless sisters, daughters, and mothers

killed by hate

there are countless missing indigenous women

ignored by the state

but somehow, we just can’t see

that America was never great

and somehow, we just can’t see

that there are women in Iraq

and there are women in Afghanistan

and there are women in Palestine

and there are women in Yemen

and there are women in Syria

and there are women

in every single country

that we occupy and bomb

and we’ve killed far more women

than Saddam

and many other awful despots combined

how can we be fine

just speaking out against .77 cents on the dollar

and not about the unending list of women

killed by the taxes on that dollar.

Don’t march against a symptom,


march for the cure…

and please, stop funding the slaughter

of countless women

countless grandmothers,

countless mothers,

and countless daughters.

Posted in poem, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

This is why we fight

Early December years ago

cramming for finials, I was braving the cold

making my way through the court yard to the library

making my way up the stairs,

and who do I see

being harassed by campus security

but one of my professors…

a black man with a PhD

being treated like a criminal

because he was wearing a hoodie

and was wearing a hoodie

but in the eyes of the security guard

I belonged there

and he, well he couldn’t possibly

be seeking a degree

much less could he have a PhD…

only he did

and the security guard just couldn’t see

you see, my professor had forgotten his ID

in his office

and he was about to meet another professor for coffee

and me, an undergraduate student in a hoodie

I was able to vouch for him

not because I showed my ID

but simply

because I’m white

and walking into the library,

I was grumbling, ‘this isn’t right

but my professor responded,

“this is why we fight”.




Posted in poem, Poetry, racism, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Humanity’s Blight

I am the shackles

on the legs of history,

the whip on the skin

the smallpox on the blanket

I am original sin.


I am the bullet

that pierces the quiet night

ignorant, I fly

without rhyme or reason or

sight. I’m humanity’s blight.


Posted in haiku, humanity, poem, Poetry, tanka, time, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,