Joel Hayward's Poetry

Islamic poetry in English

Joel Hayward Poetry

 

Day of Judgement

 

I sat with the Mosque Chairman

Who teaches driving

And he searched me

 

I watched his unsure voice

Advancing certainly

Hoping to convince me

 

I looked from his coffee feet

Up to my pallid hands

Which pigeonholed me

 

I caught a mistake far too big

About the Ahl al-Kitāb

Which bothered me

 

I heard no cold presumption

About a final hot abode

So this relieved me

 

I corrected with audacity

As he smiled patiently

And endured me

 

I quoted from Book and Prophet

Aware from an eyebrow

Of surprise at me

 

I shook his hand with fastened eyes

And finger-touched my heart

Hoping he will use me

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Wind Blew

 

You spoke to me

As a murmur

Somewhere

 

You struck me

With my name

As a feather

 

I heard echoes

Lost my way

In circles

 

New whispers

Stopped me

Walking

 

Once more

I implored

Through years

 

A storm arose

Swept a name

Aloft

 

I reached up

Wanting it

Back

 

You lifted me

Up to You

Light

 

I held the name

So different

Yours

 

I speak with you

As a murmur

Everywhere

 

 

 

 

 

 

Libya

 

Firing from corners

Without aim

 

No soldier, you

Excited

Vengeful

Or

 

Wanting drama

Without death

 

No martyr, you

Careful

Frightened

Or

 

Aiming to live long

For children

 

No fool, you

Responsible

Altruistic

Or

 

Seeking the overdue

Risking darkness

 

No coward, you

Motivated

Inspired

Free

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battle of Misrata

 

No sleeping weeping dreaming

Homes cells living hells

Distress and yearning cars burning

Manic panic hatred volcanic

Guns clap slap clatter shatter

Shot hot screaming red streaming

 

Wards crowded bodies shrouded

Lost brothers mothers others

Shaken forsaken torn worn taken

Confusions doubts shouts transfusions

Sutures hurried, futures buried

Dying dead fear dread world worried

 

Civil war gore more vile not worthwhile

For ruins rubble endless trouble

City smashed trashed hopes dashed

But for ideas new frontiers end of tears

Tenacity audacity courage groping hoping

Must seek meet defeat fate hate and fears

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halal at our Local

 

They passed almost everyone

Menus

 

Almost everyone discussed

 

And chose

 

Our meals appeared with theirs

 

“Oh you’ve got lamb!

I didn’t see it on the menu.”

 

It wasn’t. It came from a call

A week before

 

We watched you wonder

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life as Childhood, 1

 

As I beckoned to the horizon and plucked the rising sun

Swallowed it and gulped the Atlantic to cool my burning throat

You spoke to my pride from inside a breadcrumb and said be smaller

 

Like Alice I shrank as I spun and became nothing … almost

I felt my heart swell and lift me as a balloon

To float through a vista of Your wonderland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man Named Razi

 

Lost

Anywhere

In Pakistan

Called me Sir

On Facebook

Crushed

At 21

No Future

Typed tears

… At 21!

 

Seven billion

We two

Together

In single lines

Friends

With a click

Brothers

Forever

Insha’Allah

 

God is there

On Facebook

Everywhere

– Reads

His words

Mine –

Third

In our chat

 

His future

You oh Lord

Mine

He asked me

Remember

Duas please

Sir

 

Creator beloved

I see a photo

Small

In the corner

You see him

Knowing

 

Hope-bringer

I beseech you

For the boy

Who cries

On my screen

 

Lord of the Worlds

In Pakistan

Please

Touch          

 

Hope for 22

Friend

And more

 

The future

Has five letters

 

Allah

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon

 

No shadows fall in Jannah

No whispers ride the breeze

Sleep without nightmares

Doors unlocked

Walls without clocks

Ageless eyes smiling

Milk and sweet gold

No cigarette ash

Drunk on joy

One new race

Chosen people

Agreeing

An Ummah

Again

At last

And Him

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Kept Me

 

I pointed them

Slightly arched

Fingerprints

Fusing

A steeple

 

I cup them

Almost touching

As a boy

Waiting

To catch

 

I lowered my eyes

Crooked my neck

Or whispered

Before sleep

A little

 

I surrender

On the floor

Mind

Speaking

More

 

You preserved me

In a pocket

Secure

I lived

And am here

 

My time

For you

I am ready

Embarrassed

No more

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life in Gulps

 

I gagged

At the bitterness

 

Of the apple she gave

In a film to a girl who

Sung with sparrows

And cleaned

 

Sin stung

But I did not swallow

 

That polished orb

Red in the hand of

Death as a crone

Who lied

 

My head spun

For decades

 

As I wiped my lips and

Tongue on my sleeve

To rub off the taste

Of judgement impending

 

I spat without manners

Again again

 

This serpentine venom

That wanted to swim

In veins to my heart

With a wicked desire

 

I gulped the water

That I found

 

In a book that overflows

And spat again

Twice I think or thrice

Before swallowing

 

That shrivelled hand

No longer extends

 

Evil with a gleam

To my eyes but others

Choke daily after snatching

And ignoring sour warnings

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darling in Misrata *

 

A Child

Caught a thing

Meant for another

It flew yet wasn’t a bird

It whistled

She never heard

 

It tore her dress

Of blue cotton

And seven lives

Which must wait

Until Paradise

To be mended

 

 

* Conceptually “Darling in Misrata” follows on from a poem I wrote in 2003 during the equally wretched Iraq War:

 

 

 

Birds of the Battlefield

 

Bullets speak differently

when they meet someone new.

 

They scream “thwack!”

when they strike bone.

 

They shout “pthumpff!”

when they slap into thick muscle.

 

They squeal “pffit!”

when they pass through emptier flesh.

 

Best of all, they hiss “pzinnggg!” to themselves

when they find no-one to talk with.

 

What do they say

 

when they introduce

 

a new friend

 

to

 

death?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nature

 

Seismic Tectonic

Quaking    Plates grinding    Shaking

Grating   Irritating   Great rift   Continental drift

Separating   Tearing    Shearing    Splitting    Fire-spitting

Unremitting Tough Rough Unproductive Self-destructive

Flashing   Crashing   Clashing   Dashing

Awful   Powerful   Wonderful

Infertile   Fruitful

Soothing Hurtful

Brightening

Frightening

Mystifying

Satisfying

Sustaining

Maintaining

Flawed Ummah Adored Ummah

 

 

 

 

 

 

His Face

 

Behind glass

wiped

 

religiously

 

a fragile

page

in blue

and gold

 

showed

a face of

flames

 

In another,

 

emptiness

white

 

beneath

a fiery

turban

 

In a third,

 

a veil and

black

hair

blazing

 

In a newspaper,

 

a bomb

with a

fuse

 

hissing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today

 

You are a Muslim?

Wow!

flashed

a text

 

On my iPhone

from a

very

dear

friend

 

He knew

for a year

or more

 

I thought

 

Honestly

 

He didn’t

 

Until he

read

a

BBC

Website

 

My thumb

tapped

 

a

 

J

 

Honestly

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life as Childhood, 2

 

You rolled me as a glass marble from your thumb

onto a yellow road along which I’ve skipped for years

Away from shadows and the ordinary in black and white

Toward something gleaming beyond all else

 

No-one speaks into a tube and winds a handle

The protective walls in emerald are truth in love as

Whispered words that beat from Your book like

Migrating butterflies – monarchs – in Spring

 

 

 

 

 

 

For What?

 

17 in Marrakesh

Sipping beauty

And coffee

 

Children and mums

In pieces

 

The deaf

 

The blind

 

And torn

 

Closer to the God

Who loves

Innocence

 

A smell of hate

And heat

Survived

 

The

Angry blink

 

That 17

 

Could not

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bath in the Morning

 

Sin spirals quickly into the drain

Like an out-of-luck money spider

Pulling my shame to God knows where

Rinsed from my hair thrice

From a plastic jug made to measure

Ingredients in her kitchen

 

Hands and feet right to left

Again again drowning thieves unseen

That tried to clutch fair hairs on my arms

Everything swabbed like the deck

Of a flagship before a captain's inspection

 

Far greater comes on folded knees

After that baptism and a rub with a towel

And the donning of modesty chosen

Most days by another and laid on my bed

 

Oh Allah my Admiral match water and gold soap

With forgiveness and restoration in the depths

Let my sins spiral out from repentant groans inside

Pulling my shame to God knows where

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suicide Bomber

 

What did it take?

 

A beautiful boy packed tight

With no hint of a man’s chin

By his dad who

Kissed him goodbye

With a hope of seeing him later

 

What did he know?

 

Carrying a sunburst in canvas

To strangers who never noticed

That their end stood five-feet-two

With a running nose

And a mind full of his mum

 

What did he think?

 

Avoiding all eyes as he stood

Among them with a small chest

That felt ready to explode

With the pressure of keeping

A secret for moments more

 

What would he think?

 

His life now a curling photo on a shelf

In a home where a family once laughed

And dust on a street where people still

Buy drinks, phone covers and fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

Osama bin Laden

 

When I was a boy

I loved

 

The Phantom

 

In a cave

 

The Ghost who Walks

 

Today they killed

Another

 

Ghost who walks

 

Not one I loved

 

Living soft in town

 

And shown

Unmasked

 

On CNN

 

But can a ghost die?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bin Laden: An End?

 

An age pierced his brain

and passed with him

 

A decade in a flicker

 

He dropped and we snatched him

hoping he would sink

somewhere

 

Maybe an age is harder

to kill

 

Today wears a coat

smeared with yesterday

 

Will sunrise be red?

 

 

 

 

Joel Hayward Poetry, Joel Hayward Poet, Joel Hayward Poems