How it came to this

mohjaBy Mohja Kahf


It Came to This



For Kurdish rights in Syria

For Kurds stripped of citizenship since 1963

stripped of their land   their language   their names

whipped by the Arab Belt of the Baath

no economic justice no equality no


dignity for prisoners of conscience in Syria

families of prisoners assemble on the curb

outside the Justice Building in Damascus

for Tal Malouhi, 17, imprisoned for a poem

for a word   for an essay   for a blog

no charge no warrant no

redress and no recourse

for Raghda Hassan, imprisoned for her novel manuscript

her ten-year-old son on the curb beaten at the vigil

no charge no warrant no


accountability of government

its rubber-stamp parliament

its executive all powerful for life

its security branches all powerful

all seventeen of them

its Mr. Ten Percent lining his pockets

the Assad family plundering the country

Continue reading “How it came to this”

Ghazal for Iranians Who Don’t Hate Arabs

To Rom, and Parichehr

Today I met Iranians who don’t hate Arabs.
They smiled and said “hey, selam,” even knowing I was Arab.

They didn’t have green eyes, yet they seemed to bear up
pretty well without them, and they don’t fault Arabs,

not all of us, at least, for Nahavand, and the bloody flare-up
at Karbala; after all, remember, Imam Husayn was Arab.

I was a little scared at first, but soon I scraped my chair up
closer and acknowledged half our poetry and science isn’t Arab.

Half? Two thirds! Three quarters! All Persian! I went clear up
to The Arabian Nights, to Ibn Sina; who says he was Arab?

Continue reading “Ghazal for Iranians Who Don’t Hate Arabs”

%d bloggers like this: