Joel Hayward's Poetry

Islamic poetry in English

Yunus Found in Darkness

Foul smell he wore, dead sea and more

He gagged upon wet sand

With lungs aching and tongue burning

Tight and cramping stomach churning

He felt the land, the land.

Salt-fighting eyes blinked in white pain

The sun jabbed aches into his brain

A man who thought he’d gone insane

He looked back at the sea

With death now fought, Oh Lord, he thought

Your monster has saved me.

Its ancient bulk slid further out

Through waves called in by birds

Which gave gratitude in screeches

For braving such shallow beaches

To obey Allah’s words.

Leviathan, with his task done

Slipped deep into the black

With a cavernous draw of air

An hour of life, unspoken prayer

Then up and back, and back.

I have not yet shared all I know

Of those events so long ago

Which brought salvation after woe

Hearken to this story

Us it reaches, us it teaches

God earns all the glory.

How did he know he was chosen

To call the wrong to right?

What type of guidance made him shake?

Did its gravity make him quake?

What made him start his flight?

The task too great, he fled his fate

Which found him in that hour

When Allah used his strength as Lord

To frighten all who sailed aboard

Who cried, Such power! Such power!

With howling winds and cries of fear

They raised curses into the air

Their minds overcome with despair

As the storm closed it grip

Drowning the wails, ripping the sails,

And tearing at the ship.

Did he know that Allah wanted

Only a change of thought?

Did he see the Creator’s hand?

Would his confused mind understand?

Would he do what he ought?

The crew loud yelled, he still rebelled

In madness and torment

While stinging salt spray screamed in ears

And dreadful minutes passed as years

Winds cried: repent, repent!

The storm’s anger set minds aflame

Hot with thoughts of who was to blame

Who on board had a secret shame?

The cursed must give his life

So they threw dice, their hearts of ice

And chose their sacrifice.

They threw him into the wild sea

Cold gasping he sank down

For their gods to leave them alone

They had chosen one to atone

And he would have to drown.

In pitch black ink, where he did sink

He had no chance of help

But Allah sent his monstrous beast

Which opened for a man-sized feast

And gave a gulp, a gulp.

Its stinking gut became a womb

The living cave became a room

For one who thought it was a tomb

He gagged in caustic air

Choked out a plea, Lord please save me!

And begged God to be there.

Forgive my failings mighty Lord

Please let me live not die

I will obey your every word

I will do everything I heard

Grant me the chance to try.

With throat burning and soul yearning

He felt tears freely run

A weight of pain and shame combined

It almost overwhelmed his mind

He gasped, You’re One, the One.

Great Allah told his giant friend

That the Prophet’s torments should end

And to his task he should attend

So to shore the whale turned

Thrilled to do right, filled with delight

That he had God’s joy earned.

The one inside also rejoiced

That he had gained God’s grace

He felt it change his very core

Which clean it washed forever more

From feelings of disgrace.

They surged to shore, eager and more

To serve the One who saves

Focused in a sea of purpose

Two as one beneath the surface

Under the waves, the waves.

I have already shared with you

About that blessed retch or two

Which on the beach a prophet threw

The world’s most famous cough

Gentle and calm, to do no harm

Was thank God not too rough.

Our story has not yet ended

The rest should now be learned

About how one man changed many

Taught a city of blind to see

And God’s loving smile earned.

Within a week, no longer meek

He had regained his voice

To those who had rejected truth

He shouted with the zeal of youth

You have no choice, no choice!

Obey the Lord and bow your knees

Offer your sorry prayers in pleas

Cry to Him your apologies

Don’t let a moment pass

Without reprieve, you must believe

That judgement’s coming fast.

My God, the one thrown in the sea

Has come back from the dead

We had rejoiced at his demise

Yet here he is with fire in eyes

They cried aloud in dread.

In shock and fear, it became clear

That they could not ignore

A prophet drowned far out at sea

Was back – alive – in their city

Demanding more, much more!

City elders were first to bow

Swayed by unimagined power

They repented that very hour

With their glad young and wives

They sank right there and offered prayer

And thanked God for their lives.

In time they all heeded the call

And Allah they obeyed

Their prophet taught them all wisdom

Through many years of joy with him

And endlessly they prayed.

Let us give praise, God’s name let’s raise

For sending loved Yunus

With clear guidance on how to live

And with God’s perfect grace to give

With love to us, for us.