My cupped hands carry ancient
lines of dark rooms dense with
hookah, chai, and mad men who
bang on the daff and chant

‘Oraat mard kor dosak mei lakae jai gee’. *

My cupped hands are fed, wed to
speculative phrases, bound in his
interpretations, fluent with
accusations. I am made of his rib
yet I deserve his spit. Ancient lines
of moonlit nights, prayers, and men
who gather to recite

‘Oraat mard kor dosak mei lakae jai gee’.

My cupped hands bear the burden of
hell, him, and hope. For my hands hold
the creation of sin. So, he points his finger
to the thick text of rulings, circling vague
phrases and says

“Recite: “Oraat mard kor dosak mei lakae jai gee’

“A woman will take a man to hell.

*A common phrase in Urdu used by many men and
influential imams to justifytheir belief that ‘a woman
will take a man to hell’.

Published in Acumen, issue 93, Jan 2019

The War Song

This poem is based on the Spanish Civil War.

Screen Shot 2019-09-20 at 13.15.55


This is a war song of shrivelled

corpses scattered across the nest

of home. A war song of parched

tongues melding skin to bone. A

war song where the drought sits at

the throat, where dog tastes like goat,

where the skeletal frames cower

in the heat.



This is a war song where hands

tremble and charred people cry,

where a mother’s tired tongue

sings jarred lullabies.


This is the war song, listen to

the cries. This is the war song,

expect no lullaby.


Posted on the WCML blog in July.