Joel Hayward's Poetry

Joel Hayward Poetry

 

God’s Blessings

 

“Are we ok?”

You ask though we are

 

always

 

And you cuddle

 

Squeezy

 

Like you did at seven

when you talked about hair

as you still do

 

You love to wind me up

Hate it when it works

 

“I haven’t annoyed you, have I?”

 

“No, not yet.”

 

Our eyes

the same

smile

 

You have prattled

a river forever

 

Sometimes

I drift

 

Yet I know that one day

as I die

I’ll need you there

 

… and I’ll live for every word

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Journey Back

 

In the belly of the whale

I curled as

 

a not-yet within a mother

 

shivering with pain I couldn’t feel

and called your name once

 

through the starless space

of titanic depth

 

You asked your slate gray friend

to rise as a filling balloon

 

from the crushing weight

of mistakes grown from knowledge

without experience

 

and sent me sprawling

 

I blinked blind in a sun forgotten

that burned some shame off my skin

 

as I coughed away my drowning

for nine years then three

 

and looked inland for the meaning

of a second life apparently here

 

You had heard

 

You had accompanied me

 

always inside my shallow breaths

 

and waited for my groan to climb

a ladder from what felt dead

 

deep within a broken shell

 

I heard a call in a windless breeze that bore

 

my name as a seagull’s caw

and my purpose as a kiss of clarity

 

And I call yours again: Allah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday

 

You owned that second

when I could do

nothing

 

You ruled the world

as the road shrank

in my eyes

 

You Oh Allah

were my seatbelt

which held

 

You were the airbag

that loved me

in a flash

 

You were all and above

when I slid

as nothing

 

You whispered hush

and steel noise and glass

complied

 

You oh Allah

took no life there

nor let me

 

You control the heavens

earth and in-between

and You decide

 

Can I ever repay

You for a blink

of lasting life?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holy Qur’an

 

When I let my eyes

 

fall

           into

                       its

                               wisdom

 

I don’t hear my voice

inside but

 

an angelic Lily Afshar

playing guitar with her eyes

closed

 

gently

 

and singing

 

note perfect

 

in the Irish flute voice

of that shaven-headed girl

who tore a photo of

some pope

 

The dancing of meaning

inside somewhere

changes me like …

 

nothing I can describe

 

and I can’t say

what I want except

to be prophetwise

and to gain Your smile

 

So I read and

 

sink

             within

                           its

                                    magic

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Voyage of a Scholar

 

On the day that paper clips and files

And memos snowed upon a city

I opened an unfamiliar book

To see what had brought that storm

 

Each night I brushed back dreams

By turning pages of profundity

To learn what had placed death

In the eyes of passport photos

 

The heavens opened for

Forty days within my mind

And soul in a Noah’s flood of

Confusing certainties

 

The willing dead were absent in

Every word but my forty days

Left greater questions buoyant

And curiosity unvanquished

 

I sailed twenty times

In eight years through

Surah seas of calm swells

Pushed by winds of conscience

 

Twenty times I charted their

Depths – truly Pacific –

Before I knew that I

Knew nothing

 

When tranquil winds lifted

La ilaha illallah I heard a soft

Muhammadur Rasulullah

Slip without thought from my lips

 

A book read twenty times asked

When I would embrace its truth

And in a small stillness I replied

Now oh Lord, Now

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too Often

 

Shaytan winks

 

Within …

 

a market

a boy

a vest

two wires

a second

a hole

a mistake

a crime

 

 

 

a sin

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lamentations

 

What possessed me

To sin like that?

 

Regret sighs

And I look down

 

I hide my eyes

As a child avoiding dad’s

 

I can’t turn them from You

You are anywhere

 

What possessed me

To welcome shame?

 

I breathe out

After a slow inhale

 

I try not to focus

And I want my mind to wander

 

A lead-heavy clarity within

Reminds me that You expect more

 

What possessed me

To act as though You weren’t here?

 

You never leave or step further

Than an eyelash fallen on my cheek

 

I don’t want my end to come

In this moment

 

How could I face You

And say I did it knowing You saw?

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Despair in Lamentations

 

You swooped and caught me

Knowing I would trip, stumble and fail

 

You heard my sorrowful lament

Before my lips formed words

 

You understood my thoughts

Before I even thought them

 

From the instant my soul began to groan

Your tender fingers touched my chest

 

Before defeat could overcome me

You told me I had the hope of triumph

 

I cupped my hands in prayer

And they were already full of grace

 

The moment I inhaled for Astagfirullah

You placed peace within my lungs

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cleft

 

In a desert midnight no darker than dawn

With cloudless heavens evident and stretching

To the edges of Bedouins’ minds and ours

Where owls govern with Your permission

 

You plunged a mighty fist deep

Into the heart and gripped a molten rag

And pulled it into a peak of crags

In which the gash You wanted grew

 

With a rush of wind you shaped that

Tear into a world-sized hollow to shelter

A man and a starfilled future for any who

Might accept what tugged at him that night

 

You once said Be! and time commenced

But earlier you had chosen from first

Until final a stream of Rusul and You placed

In that cleft the last Rasul alone but never

 

And in the radiance of a challenging word

Your spirit whose wings dripped pearls

Asked the silent one who sailed in prayer

To revolve the world on a different axis

 

Running feet across the earth carried him

To the comfort of arms that felt a beating

Chest bursting with ten million truths and her

Assurances trounced the whisperer’s last ditch

 

Words of mercy flow around us through a gentle

Heart in a stone cavity in the shade of a night

Without shadows beneath a cloudless cover

Which owls rule ... for a shrinking time

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will I Write a Poem about Her and Sin?

 

Shaytan murmured

Write a poem about her!

I started

Words flowed

And were good

 

A muse! Such allure!

 

“You came and stood close

And I so wished my eyes

Weren’t red

From writing

My lecture

Late at night”

 

Allah said

Don’t type any more

 

So I didn’t

 

It wasn’t good

 

I dragged the cursor

Across the rest

With restraint and

What-ifs

Then tapped

 

Delete

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regret in Cashmere

 

A stubbled beggar with a faded mutt

Pressing tight and a hungry brown hat

I think holding coins three of four

In winter’s pain of frozen lungs

And a running nose wiped on

A sleeve said “Your coat looks warm”

While I walked wrapped smiling in

Cashmere black and warm except

My heart which pushed flippant words

“So does yours” from lips that

Still tasted of red sweets from

The cinema but the stabbing lance

Of conscience that pierced my side

Told me like a nana’s sermon that I had

Ignored Allah’s words and walked too

Far in a coat meant for the one who could

Not buy what I could: another

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Different Rooms

 

I choose solitude

 

They watch television

Downstairs

 

I bend as they recline

 

I place my mind on a mat

While theirs slip through adverts

About cat food and sofas

 

I whisper to You of truth and grace

While they discuss invented worlds

And cockney characters

 

Seclusion is never forlorn

We are together

 

As they are

Downstairs

 

And I love them

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World is an Asian Intersection

 

Holding out

An empty baby

 

Monkeylike

Two months old or nine

Dusty, limp and sun-dried

 

A desiccated mother

Large teeth missing

Appears at the window

With a bonelike hand cupped

Within the opportune moment

Offered by a red light and begs

For her God’s provision

 

A fully-toothed driver

Eased by his creator

And the tired air-con

Warns the torn and shocked

Who shrinks in comfort

In the cream leather back

About the fine he’d pay if he

Slipped her a note of

No known value

To lengthen life

And please the lover

Of mothers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Such Power

 

She acted her iman in forty-one

Covered Facebook photos for 2,431

Friends and she looked like a Muslima

Should and built a wall of pious bricks

 

But after burning all Israelis

With kerosene-soaked words

 

And when she graffitied

“I f---ing hate that b--ch Lady Gaga!!!”

On her wall

 

And seven bearded friends liked it and

Weighed in with their own

Hard-knuckled violence

 

Another pulled his lips tight and made her

Extinct with a single press and

Now he can’t even remember

His friend’s angry name

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything

 

You have ninety-nine names of splendour

I am Abdullah

 

You are greater than all universes and anything beyond

I stand five foot seven

 

You are infinite and time fits within Your palm

While my hair grows grey

 

You are magnificent and ever so flawless

My feet get too hot in summer

 

And I sometimes snore (so I’m told)

 

You see everything always

My eyes get red from too much reading

 

But I study Your book ― religiously

 

You understand far more than all knowledge

I don’t even know where Moldova is

 

Without searching Wikipedia

 

You parted the sea and split the moon

While I get tired carrying groceries

 

You answer millions of prayers ― billions? ― at once

Yet I can’t follow television when my daughter chatters

 

But I listen to Shoshana (usually)

 

You created her and Michaela

I am merely their adoring father

 

I am Abdullah

You are everything

I am happy

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the Office on Thursday

 

The Ambassador and I

spoke Arabic and I

led him in

 

Nearly all I knew lasted the

feeling of a rushed breath

but was more

 

It was a lot to one who had

not talked easily

all day

 

His grin stretched when

he heard Ana Muslim

Alhamdulillah

 

The Undersecretary of

State’s astonishment

blinked

 

Two shared as brothers

while a Lord in

pinstripes smiled

 

The Ambassador’s state

of rocks and sand loved

by three grew

 

Two Muslims and

a wide-eyed mandarin

pulled lands together

 

My office glowed with a

Surah’s truth ― 49:13 ―

and I thanked You

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everywhere

 

Susurrating grass, the sway of pliant poplars and nodding

Leaves on a creeper which presses against the window

Whisper something sweet that exists in every single thing

 

A cracked mountain’s exhaust pumps like a dying

Chevrolet something eternal into an unloving

Cloud of ash through which birds won’t fly

 

A silver school twisting like a ribbon or a bed-sheet

Deep yet where light rays illuminate its movement

Lives to tell oceans about something exalted

 

Sparrows fluttering nervously up and back from the

Old bread left near the clothesline by a grandmother

Blink a message in beady eyes like Morse code

 

Something perfect comes as a reply from the wings

Of locusts that steal almost all life from fields of hope

Sown by those whose children emerge without sin

 

And the slow drip of bluish water from a frozen point

Within a glacial cave creates a cadence that beats

Something healing at the pace of a whale’s heart

 

The too-often cough of a smoking uncle holds the purity

Of something living that swirls then vanishes

As it holds aloft the vitalising glory of its owner

 

Even evil flying from an assassin’s rifle can’t sully the

Perfection of The Name carried with the prior knowledge

Of the One who will roll up time with justice read from a book

 

 

 

 

Joel Hayward Poetry, Joel Hayward Poet, Joel Hayward Poems