blackbirdonline journalSpring 2010  Vol. 9  No. 1
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Because you were schooled in no
instrument and I could carry

no tune, there would be no
music between us, not even

at the place of oracle, no matter what
story the flames told. And so I

wasted, the object of no one’s
desire, what beauty

I may have had faded, shades lost
to gray. Each feature cracked.

So let me join the fakirs who
beg at the roadside, singing

hymns to Allah, eyes
bleached by the sun.

This is my crooked qawwali,
an introductory wail, my vocal

improvisation. When my hair
streaks with malnutrition

and jasmine strands tangle
at my neck, I’ll lose myself

in the traffic’s vortex,
mehndi marking my palms

like a scar or a scab.
I’ll learn the patience of sorry

angels who stand by and let it
happen, haloes nothing more

than a scratch in the paint.  end

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