Joel Hayward's Poetry

Islamic poetry in English

"Hayward's eclectic poetry reflects his enigmatic mind. ...
His poems are passionate and full of rich images and exert a strong and dignified intelligence."


Welcome to Joel Hayward's Poetry.

I created this small website as a place to post selections of the poetry I have been writing over the last few years. Many of these poems are unpublished and will go into my fifth collection. My fourth, Pain and Passing: Islamic Poems of Grief and Healing, about the tragic death of my wife Kathy, appeared in January 2018. Some other poems posted here are included in my recent book, Poems from the Straight Path: A Book of Islamic Verse (White Cloud Press, 2017). Others appeared in Splitting the Moon: A Collection of Islamic Poetry (Kube, 2012) and Lifeblood: A Book of Poems (Totem Press, 2003).

(This is a copyright free image. The author Joel Hayward has placed this image in the public domain for use without licenses or restrictions and has waived all rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.) 

(This is a copyright free image. The author Joel Hayward has placed this image in the public domain for use without licenses or restrictions and has waived all rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.)

"Hayward’s journey of exploration, transformation and illumination forms the beating heart of this moving collection of poetry [which is] a timely and important work that reveals the struggle and profound insights of someone bridging cultures and faith traditions."

Passion Islam, November 2017.

(This is a copyright free image. The author Joel Hayward has placed this image in the public domain for use without licenses or restrictions and has waived all rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.)

"[Joel Hayward] is a very skilful and gifted poet whose way with words is impressive. His poems ... provide a powerful commentary on the social, political, moral and religious challenges and difficulties currently facing Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The fact that he is able to do this in an elegant, evocative and inspiring way is an added bonus. ... The poet is able to blend the personal, emotional, spiritual and existential dimensions of human experience, and do so without in any way over-playing or undermining any aspect. This is a very rare skill for a poet to possess. ... This is one of the best collections of Islamic poems I have read for some time; a must read for both Muslims and non-Muslims.”

— Muhammad Khan, The Muslim News, Issue 276 (27 April 2012)

"Memorable and insightful. ... Thumbs up for Hayward's work"

— Evening Standard, 9 May 2003

"... as an academic, and now as a poet and fiction writer, Hayward has achieved much. This is a complex book, and deserves a much longer review. Hayward is at home with the visceral, the cut and thrust of argument, war and death, pain and revenge.... The poems are racy and innovative, a definite cut above the moderate fare currently on offer. You enter a whole new world when you read Joel Hayward's poetry."

— Southern Ocean Review, Issue 27 (12th April 2003)

"Hayward's eclectic poetry reflects his enigmatic mind. ... His poems are passionate and full of rich images and exert a strong and dignified intelligence. Hayward exerts a courageous strength, rebelling against his past creative constraints, and in perhaps a flush of originality and ambitious flair, has achieved a work of art."

Chaff, 14 July 2003

Latest poems:

I have become a stranger

I have watched this man who looks a bit like me but so much

older stumble

over things that never mattered
and question the certainties that always had

I saw him scowl at the crescent moon

slide the book into that
tight gap on the shelf

ask why and why and why

and why

He told me that God's not
on His throne

the cosmos is as empty as his own soul

faith brings no benefit
this side of death

Foul thoughts from a stranger
who has eaten the moist fruit of providence

who has sipped the sweetest wine
that flows from the garden

I see that dreams of mountains have become
sleepless nights in a stony valley

I hear garbled cries in the dark

but I also know that among his ashes is a warm coal ready

to welcome the Lord's breath and kindle again within him

tongues of yellow
and blue belief 

Drifting beyond

You are drifting from the shore

and that same tugging tide
has washed away the worst

of my midnight misery

A few stars have climbed spiral stairs
 back into the darkness that had
shut me in a closet

Your voice is nowhere
in the wind which weakens
within me

and even the coldness
of your death is thawing
in the Lord's warm breath

Why am I not pleased that
this plague of pains is

Must I feel terrors
and torments to prove
to myself
how much
you meant?

Your voice is nowhere

but I don't need to
hear it to remember

how much I owe you 

Those words

If you had seen your
own grave you

would have stopped
and read

of the love you had
always wanted

and said to me, look
that's so romantic

although I never was
and words on

a stone were
the best I could do

but God knows
— I hope you do too

that every word
came from that

good side of me
and not the other


If it's walking through a door
and shutting it behind me

looking forward
seldom back

reaching an understanding
with unruly emotions

not having the horror
and the jolting upright

when you visit at night
in swarms of the past

I'd rather suffer as I do
and still feel you're

somewhere not

To be God

I loathe my yearning to be
the Lord of the Worlds

for only a minute

          or less

not to feed the fly-covered starving

destroy the devil's musicians in Syria

rip barbed wire from around the enslaved

cure that devouring thing

but return you to my world
and go back to

how things were
before you left


I search an empty sky
scan the horizon
between life and

the gloaming

I find you inside as shade
from this

intense heat

as a low cloud of
dripping memories

I sit in a room of paper walls
and listen

for a whisper

yet you were quiet in life
so nothing's changed

In my unspoken voice you say
no it's fine as

you did whenever I suggested
I'd do something for you

instead of for me

but now it's not fine and I struggle

such emptiness

A single strand

What can that single coppery strand
curled and lonely on the dresser

pulled from my brush tell me
about the way my life

will be now that grass has begun to grow on her grave

while I'm back in that land where grass can't grow

with a call to prayer fluttering like a ribbon in a warm westerly

reminding me that everything in this world and the next belongs

to the One who gave her coppery hair that she wore long and proudly

and I'd brushed after she'd answered some fluttering call of her own?


My prayer is as cold as her cheek when I

kissed her goodbye and the thought that my God

who has raised Lazarus of the Four Days because
his Beloved asked but left me


inflicted her with that cruel and tortuous death like an

East German agent with pliers 
and some curved blade is much too much

to believe and my questions
fill the quiet and pulsating

emptiness of space as fully 
and sadly as cold water fills a bath that

someone has forgotten to drain yet if
C S Lewis and Rumi could not

find adequate answers then I am golden Custer 
battling Indians and I must

submit for the sake of sanity 
to trust that the Most Compassionate

and Ever Merciful

intends something I can't see but still my prayers

drip like an old faucet into a cold bath

Our last date

Oh how smooth you became
as though you hadn't just died
but had become as young

as when I took you to live in that
narrow red house with
squirrels on the fence

and your eyes were as blue
as I'd ever seen eyes but yours
stared at nothing

and I knew you were elsewhere
seeing things as bright
as you'd ever seen bright

while I held you like a first date
though I knew it

was our last

and cried like I had when our girls were born
but they weren't even there when I said

goodbye to an easy mother and easier wife who hadn't

complained at those foolish things in my life

Mon héroïne

I carried something deep inside
my pocket like Frodo's ring

with the cruel gravity of Jupiter making every step beside you
a slog through Russian snow

I never told you

I couldn't bear the thought
you wouldn't fight

and oh how valiant you were!

Even that French emperor that I have

in pewter in a box in storage

would have thumped you on the shoulder

Oh tu as un cœur de lion!

yet a lion had already clamped its teeth into your shoulder

such pain

and you fought impossibly

until you finally fell into that shadowy shaft
without knowing that I had carried a secret
for eighteen months

that you, mon brave soldat, had only six months to live

Inhaling her soul

I gulped to inhale her soul
as she sighed while it spilled

as the blood of birth

and I cried at the absence of her future

I reached to catch it before it slipped away
but these sin-slick hands couldn't grip such purity

What would I have done with it anyway?
Kept it like a genie to uncork whenever regrets weighed most?
Whenever my shame crept out?

It escaped faster than I had imagined
though no feather fell
or flutter caught my eye

into a spinning growing void in which only one word  

is ever said and always in a whisper 

Your photograph

You smile in a picture on a shelf
and whenever I pass I greet you

as a boy passing the waiting dog
that Dad had said he couldn't play with
until after homework

I salute you with a sigh
that climbs a long ladder from a deep pain

though the Lord of all worlds
had slammed shut in my face that most unlovely door

leaving you in pearlescent light
and me inside the shadows of a willow weeping

An eyebrow arches to hold aloft your eyes like Chinese lanterns
glowing as they drift away
soon to fall

And no one but me will know
that I'd taken that photo on the very day
your left lung collapsed

with cancer clutching like coal in a cave

Out of place

Everything is out of place

a curiously dead wife on anyone's bed
in a city long forgotten

her soul departing from an old people's home

lip hanging lower than it used to

new running shoes in the corner

disposable nappies next to a bra on an unused food tray

eyeliner on eyes that hadn't opened for days

cold skin in a room into which the sun streamed

morphine flowing through a tube into a life that had left

devotion from such an imperfect husband

who knew she'd hate her hair like that
and stroked her fringe back into place


From your bed in the ward you saw a modest ribbon of pale sky
through a window that could open only slightly, like your eyes

a high sky as achingly thin as the skin of your arms
bruised like rain clouds

Yellowy eyes revealed what lips never uttered

a beaten acceptance that the sky will exist long after you do not

and your eyes fell on me like a child rushing for a tight hug

and mine swept you up like a father who'd failed to stop you tripping

Oh you patient soul who had never asked for more or complained of less

that same sky will also stretch above my grave

but until I fall into shadows I'll never forget you

an easy companion who said little during drives and nothing during pain


Night crawls like lizards
with tongues of opalescent horror

Sleep is a blanket on someone else's bed

and I jolt and gasp like she had

connected by that plastic tube
to a life finally withdrawn

Sleep is torn from my lungs which choke

on fears that close around me as coal dust

and all I see in the dark are the
worst things she suffered

from cancer's tongues of horror

Then radiance reaches from your woken soul

and you recite Quran over me
like a Southern faith healer

with laying on of hands

They slither away from the light
you've conjured and I sleep oh I sleep

Daylight memories appear as camera flashes

petty poltergeists easily banished

Yet darkness always follows day as an anxious housemaid

Memories slip their skins and crawl from discarded scales

again where they shouldn't

Abu Dhabi

You asked me please to take you home

two days before you left with another

I am there now and you are elsewhere

Here my sorrow bakes and my tears dry without falling

I sit in air conditioned anguish near a mosque

where I don't want to pray

You called this home and loved it here

but now you're in the cold earth

I cannot visit

On my desk your pewter camel kneels
as though he misses you like I do

Oh you loved to see their long-lashed beauty

by that fast road through the desert
and when I see them next I'll remember

how you collected them in wood and metal and pride

while my failure to bring you back
consumes me like your disease

So enjoy what God will give you:

shade and camels in families and my father's friendship

and pray for me in the cool breeze that blows through

the open doors of that boundless mosque

It is home


Our forlorn prayers fell on the floor

as unfixed pages

scripture underfoot
beauty walked on and wasted
promises dirtied

but you had folded one small prayer
like a tear-damp hanky

placed it deep within your pocket

and when you inhaled all life on the far side

he asked you for it

You gave it to him still folded

like a love note in school

and he met your eyes as he opened
and read

and smiled

Death certificate

A death certificate opened

on my computer screen

like a white rose in a light mist

Immaculate and orderly
words parading like graduating cadets

The name of that beast hidden in Latin

like a mystery from the Revelation

yet I had seen it

eating without distraction
without looking up
no interruption
a lion on a dying calf

eyes wide and realizing

I had seen your light dim
and die

and closed your lids with a moist thumb

Now words say nothing 

of the ravages and the wild

the predators or the prey

I'll forward that lifeless paper to the bank

and you'll simply disappear back

into quiet emptiness and shadow 

Al Fatiha

He read two poems and placed the book 

on her coffin before it vanished 

into the depths of that ugly hole

Each poem curled into the air
as the smoke of a wizard's pipe

but faded like her life without a miracle

With a wizard's power he spoke 

again and cast his words 

as a moist mist across three hundred graves

Ancient words formed a prayer 

in a language unknown to the minds of family 

but familiar somewhere deep within

In the unpainted east of a city 

named after the risen messiah 

Arabic words curled around her 

suspended body and all angels bowed

"Bismillah ar rahman ar rahim ..."

The first verses of a sacred text

the opening of a door between worlds

the echo of creation's sixth day

The words drove devils back into shadows 

and birds on barren branches bowed

The words drew judgement day a second closer 

and the Lord enjoyed His words aloud where they hadn't been before

in the quake-broken east of a city named after the risen messiah


His office shrank as he
played the Lord of the Worlds

This pretender couldn't say
"Be!" and it would

He couldn't ask a whale
to swallow a prophet

He couldn't create a dry path
through the sea of reeds

He couldn't say "Come forth"
to a cold friend in Bethany

But he announced a death sentence
and time obeyed

She fell into the darkness
that reigned upon the deep

She fell into the mouth of the leviathan

into an empty universe
into our crowded melancholy
the mystery of a decision
the embrace of the decider

Worlds apart

You are nowhere here
and cannot see me

or the life I'll make that you wouldn't like

You are not in the hope of a new day, the song of the wind,

the glint of snow or the sun's sigh as it lays beneath the horizon

You are not around me

I am suffocating in empty air and I know you're not in a starlit stream

or the lapping waves that deceitfully kiss the shore near our old home

We are in different rooms in dissimilar dwellings

in worlds that never converge

except for those forced through the ugly door that's as thin as
the thumbed pages of sacred text

I struggle in a cacophony of thoughts and busy people

You rest in the shade of a date palm

within the quieting walls of the eternal mosque

You cannot see that I ache
and lurch and gulp with grief

My regrets are an avalanche
a rockslide
a burial

Yet I live and you are gone
and the river between us
is the Amazon

I cannot see you
and I cannot swim

It's with her still

The greatest part of the universe 

that my youth could afford

To her it remained the morning star

the cross on the spire
the crescent on the dome
the meaning of all things

She never took it off

to wash dishes

while soaking in the bubbles she loved

while groaning during childbirth

while sleeping under anaesthetic 

as they tried to cut out that damned clawing thing

or while they burned her scarred throat with radiation

but when her hand swelled like an inflated glove 

a week before she fell into the past

I soaped it and forced it off
while she floated 

somewhere unknown and insensible

and rushed it to a jeweller to enlarge

like my distress
my hopelessness
her helplessness

to give her back her glory
and meaning

She surrendered her soul 

before he'd finished

and lay in death with a pale indent 

revealing how she'd always seen herself

It came back in a velvet bag
and I wore it myself for a needy moment

kissed it like I had her cold lips

and slipped it back on her finger 

where it rejoiced at being home


Without a coat I'm drenched in the grief

that falls as a winter downpour

It drips from my nose and chin

and I shiver beneath stars that play deaf when I plead

I beg them to share the secret of where

the Angel of Death took her sweet soul

Their silence kills me

They know! They must!

A hollow quietness fills the space where we once walked

talking of a future that has become a beetle on its back

The conspiring earth holds her body

but offers no words of comfort

He has shaken down our city

yet now minds his business

I call down to my wife

knowing she can't hear

I ask that droopy moon if she's with God and happy

He just stares

I search inside myself

but I am as empty as my faith and prayers

for a while

Even God says nothing

that I can understand

I cannot find her and I cannot feel her

I trudge in winter rain and shiver

Buried within

I hate that I have become a cemetery

To visit your grave is to walk within me
and feel my pain

To find your headstone is to search the emptiness of my eyes

Desolate and wasted
I am a field of death
and you lie within

deep in the dark and stony earth that is my nature

My father's grave is overgrown
and no-one visits

but I met his love in a care home and
she ventured in

The Lord rewarded her
and pushed sunlight through the clouds

that day

There is enough death
I want no one else to lie inside

Lord chain the gates

Going in

We rushed to pack
before the ambulance came

I stuffed in a nightie, panties, t-shirts and makeup bag

Gasping on the bed
you pointed to the hairbrush

and when I grabbed your reading glasses
you said "I'll never need those again"

a tear fell

I didn't pack that book on positive thinking

or the one on foods to fight cancer

I left them near the bottles and packets full of promises

Now I've placed your glasses in a box
I'll never open in a room I'll seldom enter

and I gave your sister the sheepskin boots
I'd bought you to wear in winter


I watch you sink inside 
retreat from light
from sound
from me 

I watch your chest rise

To where have you withdrawn?
some vast cathedral of confusion?
a cell with a sentence?
a single memory of warm things?

Are you with devils or angels?
with God?
with me?

It is a wall
I search for a door 
I cannot enter 

I cannot pull you back
hold you here
you are falling

I am far already 
and nothing I can do 
can stop the depths 

reaching up to swallow you

He came

She saw what I couldn't 

In the corner near the door

where I'd hung her jacket 
with no hope of its use

She pointed and asked
Who's that man?

I knew him from a black leather book
that spoke of his legend 

He had swept over Egypt
and broken hearts and chains 

God if only I could have shed
Passover blood for her

covered her
saved her

Stop coming, I said! Leave her!
although I knew he wouldn't 

He just stood waiting
and she soon stopped pointing

Even after her eyelids became gravestones

and she slipped into night she felt him

I did too

When he stepped forward and leaned to embrace her

I didn't push him away 

Take her! She's had enough!

He ended the murderous cruelty and
I breathed out 

as she did

I felt them depart


I know you've left

but I can't find you

I search for you in my pain

in my clever theology

in my cleverer doubts

in my silent faith and swarming disbelief

in your lifeless hopes

and all I find are regrets

that pull my lips tighter

Sharp memories of you fading

and the cruelty of those last days

stab at me through the sheets

that wrap me in darkness

I cannot summon you

You cannot come

I stood with the toes of my shoes

in the soft soil of your grave

and my soul cried out

though you can't hear

All I wanted to say was sorry

for not always or often

being what you deserved

I said it anyway

to a filled hole

to the emptiness

to myself

So you've gone to the Lord

and that's good

but you are there

and I am here

and years may pass

So you've left me

My life is a desolation

The valley of the shadow

The Sahara

An empty house

I feel you beside me in the car

wanting the window down

I can't reach for your hand

I am alone

I returned the wheelchair

Its hope was only ever a compromise

It is now just a lump in my throat

Morphine and pill bottles on your dresser

Their power is a falsehood

Their failure my future

Your number's in my phone

I'll never delete it

I'll never call

Last Kiss

The Good Lord drowned you in dreams of our best times

I couldn't save you from that clutching thing that had stolen far too much

yet I am caught in the happy moment when you 

bobbed on the surface for three sunlit seconds

saw me from eyes that had closed forever, I swear, and blew me a kiss

with a hand from your lips that had forgotten how to sound even the smallest words

before sinking back into the depths of the peace that enclosed you as a shroud

Dance Partner

Uselessly I watched you

glide with her

holding her tightly

while she sank into your embrace

You drew her breath

made her heart race

placed a hand upon her shoulder

It hurt

You cast me a you-can't-do-anything glance

and I winced at how light-footed you are

It was obvious

you have done this often

thief with a devilish grin

crusher of hopes

When you left with your arm around her

you looked back smugly

You're used to getting what you want

Your gloating broke me

I curse you cancer

brutal romancer

irresistible lover

damned good dancer

The moon is hiding in her pocket

She holds the sun in her right hand
and the deepest ocean pours
from her left as a Niagara of
dark expectations

flowing to me with words
that soar and swoop pecking
and clawing

O how I need the moon and
pull her close in a feigned kiss
while my hand creeps like a lizard

to set it free like that guy released after
thirteen years waiting for the chair

O how that embrace has wrecked me
as a car that followed too close

I pulled her tight to steal
what she had herself snatched
when the stars weren’t looking

Her breath was red wine and I drank
and the weight of her breast on my arm
crushed my resistance

and I loved her again O as a universe

and let her keep it tucked away


Knowing that I was torn, You
began pulling edges together
Stitching them
O God it hurt

Stitch by stitch You closed wounds
while I looked away with gritted teeth
but said, more more

The say pain is the well of wisdom
I have drunk a full bucket
and am quenched

but I want more … please
Great Healer most merciful
see my older brother
take Your needle and thread …

Ya Allah

My soul


The pull

Of gravity

My back


To straighten

And doesn’t

Why can’t it?

Ya Allah

I am older


Yesterday's promise

I am older

Than my forgotten dreams

I ache

In prayer

My failure presses

Lift me oh Allah

The bond

We sit in cafes
Slipping deeper

Concealed in corners
Chair backs
As walls

Averting all eyes
Ours locked

The universe
In two chairs

These spaces
Our places
Yet ... anyone else’s


The future

In two chairs
Pulled close

Knees joined

True love with coffee

In Black

In black

And small

A doll with

Eyes that seized

And held


In thrall

And wonder

In black

Beside me

So close

This soul

And yet

My hand



In black

The dream

Of years

In tiny shoes

With a power


Except to Allah

And me

In black


In the mosque



My smiling prayer

With a clutching


A Matter of Time

Woollen tufts

Of undemanding hair

On your neck

Raised veins

Across the twist

Of your wrist

The curiosity of

Your lips smiling

When you swallow

And your eyes

Drowning close

To my nervous soul

Touch it

Warm it

Lift it

Love it

And the slip

Of fingers beneath

Your blue humility

The hushed moan

That’s too loud

On a bus

A whispered

Truth from

A locked room

Thanks you

Needs you

Calls you

And asks you

Not to leave

Sunlight of Joy

On a prayer mat

In a storeroom

We met

In love

And I groaned

With a yearning

And you reached

My soul

In a mind full of wonder

In that room

In the dark

I found you


And beautifully


And alive

Sunlight of joy

In a windowless space

And a world

Without time

For a moment

Gave us

A flicker

Of our future

A Union


With fingertips and lips

The world thrown away

Allah above and inside

Our longing

As milk

A touch full of age

Ten thousand years

Found in heartbeats

The world unwanted

For a few minutes


A Sigh

I read of the Shadow

As a Muslim

In the Valley of Death

Comforted by Thy staff

Wishing I had written it

The truth of truth

I scan the surface of the Darkness

As a Muslim

Frightened of the Deep

In the Void

I sat wishing I could write

With God’s spirit

As a Muslim

I heard the crackling of a bush, burning

And marvel that

You are who You are!

I remove my sandals

As a Muslim

I know David picked up five stones

When one was enough

Allow me the gift ya Allah

That described the fall of a bronze sword

Across the croaking throat of a giant

And let truth flow as beauty

From this small Muslim

Call me Daniel

The Angel of Death
Grins for a second in eyes
Golden, pacing and snarling
While I crouch to run
And cry upon the Lord
Inside a heart that cannot
Push words forth for fear

I am Daniel

I ache with a failed gasp
While beasts
Breathe hell’s heat
On my neck as I await
The tearing darkness of
That lonely moment
Of a crushing journey

I am he

Dead in the minds of
Those who cast me down
To these great jaws and
Walked away without
Bothering to watch
The end of their evil
Which they had enjoyed

Who am I?

Dead in my pity
As decades of mistakes
Fill seconds of regret
And shame at failure
While I steady myself
For a meeting
With the All-seeing

Who has come?

They stretch and twitch
And lower their bellies
Upon the dust and rest
With tawny disinterest and
Closing eyes and yawns
And the pleasure of
The sun’s warmth

You are here

I fall upon my knees
And call Your name
And stretch my hands
Upon the earth that
Asks to meet my head
And heart and
I thank you

We are here

I look up at new life
And see tomorrow as
A wider world and
A place to walk with
A great friend who
Will stay as close as
The easy breath in my lungs

You Did Your Worst

You threw sludge in a bucket
Aiming specially at my name
You covered me from head to foot
Then jeered go hide your shame!

Ain’t no mud gonna stick to me, my friend
Ain’t no mud gonna stick to me, my friend
When I bow down where I ought
Your filth ain’t worth a thought
Ain’t no mud gonna stick right to the end

You hated that I feared the Lord
It sent loathing down your spine
Faith is a crutch for the weak you thought
Your spine far weaker than mine

Ain’t no mud gonna stick to me, my friend
Ain’t no mud gonna stick to me, my friend
When I step forward on that day
He’ll know what I have prayed
Ain’t no mud gonna stick right to the end

You lied and told them white was black
Turned goodness into something bad
Your rotten soul hell-bent on harm
Your hateful thoughts both sad and mad

Ain’t no smear gonna tarnish me, my friend
Ain’t no smear gonna tarnish me, my friend
When Allah calls me to his side
He’ll already know what’s clean inside
Ain’t no smear gonna last until the end

Tornado Alley

You roared inside a twist
That joined heaven, hell and fears
In a sucking tunnel of
Spinning death and fascination

You tore apart dreams and
Clawed them through air
That shrieked in pain
As all life flew

You carved Your Name
As the earth winced
While You strained
Life through a sieve

You spoke and death
Walked off without
A sound to rest
Until You called him next

You asked if we learned
And we moaned and our
Pity for ourselves sung
As a choir garbed in black

You placed a sparrow
On a wire in the rubble
And it blinked and called
Its thanks to You

It plucked a seed and
Swallowed and all things
But us smiled
At your message

Arab Spring

Hands clenched, passions wrenched
Hearts ablaze, these days of rage
Shouts in the air, pauses for prayer
Streets, squares, mosques, theirs

Hearts freed, knees bleed,
Proud, aloud, unbowed crowd
Freedom sought, its shape unthought
Unknown ideal, substance not real
Grass is greener, democracy leaner

Cigarette smoking, despots choking
Forgotten youth and unseen truth
Confused eyes, fleeing spies, sons’ lies
Streets, squares, no longer theirs

Ranting, railing, panting, flailing
Heads full of pain, nothing to gain
Power grasping, compromise asking
Opportunity lost, everything cost
Posterity crushing and the end fast rushing

Your Book

I read your words and hear whispered reminders
As my tired eyes struggle across dots and black curves
While I ponder and wonder and stare holding my chin
As wisdom tries to sneak inside crowds of thoughts on life

I read your words and hear my slow breathing deep
And know that on that day it will cease and I’ll sleep
And then blink inside your sun-drenched calmness
As I step forward to hear your thoughts on my life

I read your words and feel the tug of sad conscience
And know whom I’ve let down, helped and annoyed
When you wanted more and sigh I gave so little
And wasted time as I walked too quickly through life

I closed my eyes darkly and called back your words
And slid them silently from my tongue into my room
Where they’ll circle and swarm close to my pillow
As I ask for their meaning and the warmth of their life

I spoke your words quietly to friends and strangers
With the force of a hurricane unnoticed so soft
While I knew that the wind would tug later at thoughts
And poke hearts with gentle fingers on the hand of life