Ars Poetica with a Broken Shahada


it is too late to pray that the next salaat my people stand to offer
doesn’t turn out to be another janazah.

a lot has changed around here. there’s no one left to tell exactly
where the city’s bright lights disappeared into.

after a quiet walk through an empty neighborhood, bhabi tells me
that the bloodstains i’d seen strewn across

the pavements, came from bodies i’d shared playgrounds with.
by which she means, my friends

have all outpaced the wind in their lungs; by which she means,
she might be dead before i write the next line

in this poem. i confess, there are days when language alone cannot
save you. my people wish to write poems

where they don’t have to bury their lovers between metaphors. my
people write poems and pull

blindfolds over lines that remind the world of their beauty. my
people are too tired

of being killed to give two shits about lexicons. on whatsapp,
Ramadan sends me a voice note,

to tell me my people have been hemorrhaging out of their homes.
i watch the video of a boy laying in a pool

of his blood with a bullet between his ribs. his tongue, pushing
the shahada just halfway out of his mouth;

just enough to tell God to please pour a rain of sunflowers
over his body, if He can see this.

Abu Bakr Sadiq