“Palestine” and Three Ghazals


This poem was originally accepted by Nūr Mélange (an anthology) but was withdrawn by the author in protest.


Do you turn away from this genocidal pace in Palestine?
Is your heart that void of space for Palestine?

Israel has the right to defend itself, I’ve heard people cry
out, old traumas triggered as they deface Palestine.

Look, this is not a Jew, Muslim, or Christian matter,
but of you not seeing humanity in the faces of Palestine.

Yes, you are complicit. America refuses ceasefire,
supplies bombs for the Israeli army to erase Palestine.

Gaza! Raffah! From the river to the sea! No wait, football
is on, Taylor and Travis have more place here than Palestine.

Didn’t your god, your prophet, your king learn wisdom
in this same city—why starve destroy all trace of Palestine?

Israel, America, settler-colonies: land of the brave?
No one will be free unless we free, in good faith, Palestine.

Aaron Bushnell of the US Air force self-immolates in protest,
says, “I will no longer be complicit in genocide. Free Palestine.”

How many Gazan children, ages zero to seventeen have burned
since October 2023? Al-Jazeera keeps pace with Palestine.

Am I repeating Palestine too often for your liking? Gaza?
How about genocide? How about you embrace Palestine?

Rajiv, how much time do you spend editing? Why write
poems when every fifteen minutes a child is killed in Palestine?


Vancouver Ghazal With God and Orca

Looking up, friend, don’t worry, no one can see the sky.
Elee says today Vancouver has given me the sky.

A strip of blue light above the mountain banking the bay;
from the far bank why is it easier to dream the sky?

Is your day bound for glory? Rain again, but in Burrard
during the summer orcas leap free into the sky.

What do I love anymore? I hold three stones as wishes
to invite beauty back inside. Above the let in sea, the sky.

On a beach once, a man made me listen to the terns
repeat their guru’s sunset namaz, then flee to sky.

In the middle of the river, you thirst for the shore,
why did you leave, now unmoored, your body free to sky?

I’ve taken every one of his nightshades—to eat or
to not? Which betrayal, which kiss a treachery to sky?

Without peace, this heart still thrums and curses, though
of dark bronze it’s cast. No god lives here only the sky.

There is no name just God, I don’t believe it. Let’s
peel our shells, I’ll show the blue lotus of me to sky.

Moon Light

Can a vine grow with shadow or in moon light?
The heart’s garden gleams dew in moon light.

Friend, “To be a Flower, is profound / Responsibility–”
don’t look for your pedicels and petals too soon in light.

“If the heart is a temple” “Each statue will be broken”
Ram never lived here, what deity will bloom in light?

An Ohio sanghi writes monotheism destroys the world.
Why make of yourself an ass, a goon in light?

Fools, “The search for the Real / is no simple matter,”
logs find their mark in darkness, without a flume light.

There is no God / but God—whichever half be true,
I still dance in the rains, in the sun of June light.

You’ve misquoted the saints, how dare you malign
the voice of Kabir of Lalla, cast them in ruined light?

It’s not the blue lotus that sparkles, diamond drops,
but God’s face, a reflection, a mere plume of light.

A Mixed-Caste Queer Sings the Blues

A machine-crying bird’s voice plumes a phantom;
my core-song chords erased for their red phantom.

“On the far shore the blue god twisted my wrists;”
in his image I crawl samsara, a phantom.

I trace his footprints to the kingdom of death
on wet sand. Is Divinity but phantom?

Once I believed in Truth to trump the wounded
bird of broken country—every wing’s phantom.

With prayer beads I repeat Justice. Justice.
God bends Maya-Sahej toward his own phantom.

If my body chirrs, a sitar’s cracked tumba,
then what music wrestles this profane phantom?

Vish means poison in Hindi; how is Vishnu
Preserver of anything but caste’s phantom?

Basavanna writes, “Gods gods…so many…no
place left for a foot” or a just god’s phantom.

That fool Rajiv thirsts after Ram-Rahim who
does not reach back; your longing Self, a phantom.
Notes: “Moon Light” includes quoted text from Emily Dickinson, Agha Shahid Ali, and Lalla Ded. “A Mixed-Caste Queer Sings the Blues” first appeared in the collaborative chapbook with Rushi Vyas Between Us, Not Half A Saint (Gasher Press 2021).