Saturday, December 29, 2012

a love confession p 2

Little by little, and in volcanic eruptions
we drifted apart like continental plates.
Said we loved the sea so we let it come between us.
We followed the flow of the tide with the full moon
tattooed in blood and water on our foreheads.
Agoraphobics, we couldn't fill spaces between us with enough stars
so we blamed proximity, too far, too near, too distant, too dear.
Accused the sun and lunar cycles for the failing of our sight
pointed fingers at the winds and they carried away our excuses
graciously left us in silence to listen to the beating of the heart's sea.

Can you hear them? The waves pleading, raging, roaring, seeping
they spend their lives through storm and salt, ice and vapor
man made pollutants and all manners of filter feeders
looking for something they have never seen
And one day, they find it, crashing upon it to kiss its' shores
before faithfully embarking on the return journey
each hoping they may be worthy of reunion with the ocean's core.

confessions p 24

Not the heavens nor the hells.
Not the words of scripture.
Nor the ideology of man.

I can not explain the endlessness
that taught my knees the speech of the ground.
I know just as these words are only shadows of tears
So too is this reality a mere shadow of the next.

before bed

Now that the day has ended
what do I have to say ?
Have I done all I could?
Have I gotten better at something?
Have I overcome a fear?
Have I tried a different approach to the same problem?
Have I been truthful to myself?
Have I reached out to a friend?
Did I really listen when spoken to?
Did I strive for excellence in some way?
Did I test my boundaries? challenge my perceptions?
Did I train my body, mind or soul?
Did I commit? Did I make a vow or renew an old oath?
Did I keep the word?
Did I pay respects to my parents? the elders or ancestors?
Did I maintain the sacred bond of friendship?
Did I chip away at the mountain on my back?


Remember your heroes
Remember their journeys
The upward slopes they navigated to find themselves
Their rites of passage, how they yearned
Remember their blood, their hearts ablaze
As they burned, for something which even they couldn't yet see.
Remember your heroes
Their memory is sacred
They have been pre-sent to you
As roadsigns, maps through which you may discover yourself.

Remembrance is divine.
It is a spiritual goldmine
It is braille for the blind
It is the cover of darkness for Love's fugitives
Remembrance is divine
It is your holy book that is yet to be writ
It is the light of the sun, it gives and gives.
It is the sanctum of the spirit in decline
It is the elixir of madmen and mystics, the lover's wine
It is all of your heroes cheering at the finish line
It is a friend's encouraging hand
Remembrance is divine
It is a garden in a wasteland.
It is the relief of speech in a room full of mimes
It is a captain in a ship left unmanned
It is the price of the soul's truth paid back in kind
It is a life raft for the sea stranded
And a candle in a prison cell for the damned
It is you and me as one if you would be so inclined
Dear wonder of the stars, leave your fears behind
And remember your heroes
Because remembrance, is, divine.

Monday, November 5, 2012

ruminations p. 2

At any given time
somewhere, someone
wishes they had your problems.


The soil of Earth
is a woman's womb
dark, damp
nurturing undergrowth.


Stars don't tire of shining
They just give off light
When they are most needed.


I have seen the face
of my enemy
and it looks just like my own


I saw a beggar
in the guise of a king
not a king of men and riches
but a king of his own desires


I made ladders out of lovers
to the divine; they carried me up
away from what appears to be my self

the Old Country

Plastic soccer balls
A garden hose in the bathroom
Milkmen in the morning
Melting ice cream
Fresh baked bread baking on a bed of stones
Cartoons from countries that haven't sanctioned ours
Condensation on the steel communal cup
Chained to an ice water tank in sweltering heat 

The sharp rap of the school disciplinarian's ruler
On fingers and palms
The sweet sound of school bells
Accentuated by the azan
Running water in the washrooms of local mosques
Bare feet on hand-woven carpets
Minarets, high rises and luxury buildings
The Jurassic limestone of the Alborz mountain range  

Iridescent Rosaris and black Chadors
Sandaled feet and prayer beads
Murmur of a grandmother's reverence
A blue glass eye dangling over the dashboard
Sidelong glances from dark eyes
Dancing beneath arching brows
Young couples discreetly holding hands
As they skirt along the mountains
Melting into the foliage
Fading from sight into the crevices of sheesha cafes
Along hiking paths leading to secret oases of tree-shade
And  the bubbling giggle of mountain streams

Conversation and companionship in communal cabs
The relief of air conditioning
The melody of heavy traffic
Over-heated radiators
The din of the bazaar
Unabashed stares in the marketplace
The cloying fragrance of rosewater and saffron
Pick up trucks on the side of the road selling seasonal fruit
70's Yamaha motorcycles backfiring
Into the glare of brand new BMWs

Street vendors hawking flowers and fresh walnuts
Chewing gum and knockoff cheetos
Charcoal-fired corn and skewers of liver
Mp3s of the latest hits and scrolls of Hafiz poetry
Randomly selected by trained canaries.


azan: call to prayers
rosari: headscarf
chador: bodyscarf

Saturday, October 6, 2012


My love,
why are you so sad?
Why so heartbroken, my love?

Don't you see
My love, don't you see
Everything is singing for you and me

Don't you know last night
the moon climbed up over your window
just to share the sun's kiss with you?

Don't you know
every time you watched the stars
they were watching you back
as they made wishes off every turn of your hand?

My love, don't you know
the waves spent all night
writing you poetry on the sand?

Don't you see
My love, don't you see
Everything is singing for you and me

Don't you know every time you dance
seemingly still stars hurl themselves
across the night sky like comets?

Don't you know last night when you smiled through the scars
heavenly spheres aligned and the light in your eyes
lit a path to the very heart of the cosmos?

Don't you know each time you laugh
constellations fall out of alignment
and have to relocate their scattered parts?

Don't you know celestial bodies made pilgrimages to your bedside
every time you peeled away another layer of yourself
and emerged with wings from the cocoon of your ego?

They danced for you when you were born
a celebration unlike any other in all the multiple dimensions
eclipsed in greatness only by the birth of birth itself.
From the lowest to the highest
all the denizens of the universe bowed before you
prostrated before your feet, they all bowed
not in worship but acknowledgement
of that divine reality, the only reality
from whose likeness we were compelled to life
and to whose likeness we will return from life.

In the meantime my love, just remember the words
of that master Moulana Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
when he says the wound is where the light enters you.
So let us paint together a blood portrait of the constellations
that shine from the dark skies of our hearts
so we may see our own light when the hour draws dark.
And should our fingers stumble onto the stitches
holding together the seams of [other] shattered hearts
then we shall kiss each and every one of those sacred scars
and help one another remember our birth among the stars.

Friday, September 28, 2012

broken whole

I came to you
like one searching in pitch black for the light-switch

I came to you
sick of all my broken words
seeking another tongue
and when my fumbling fingers finally found that light-switch
it was your voice that spoke through my mouth

I came to you
from a land of setting suns
seeking another dawn

I came to you
carrying the pieces of my self
burdened and broken with the weight of my own forgetfulness

I offered you these fragments of my self
in a platter of jigsaw puzzle pieces
hoping you could figure me out
and make me whole again

How was I supposed to know
that being whole is just an illusion?

I came to you
seeking salvation in a line from a poem that you once wrote
I came to you seeking a solution
giving you the scattered jigsaw of my soul
in some wild hope that you would be the one
who knew how it all fit together

And you took those pieces
and you let them slip from your fingers
like autumn leaves, all the while
looking straight in my eyes
looking straight into my heart
and you said

Even this
even this illusion of salvation
was necessary for you to know 
that to be whole is to be broken
and to be broken is to be whole


I never left the sacred ground
of that point in time where we met

And instead of picking up those broken pieces
with which I approached you
I now carry your memory

Those shards of my old self
still lie where they fell from your fingers
unmoved from the winds
they have taken root in the earth
and grown with Spring into shoots and sprouts
spelling out my renewed vows
against this inheritance of forgetfulness

And even this
even all of this
even sacred scars and stitches holding together shattered hearts
even the forgetfulness that I lament
has been nothing short of divinely necessary
for me to remember the echo of your name

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

confessions p 23

We laugh, but we do not really laugh
we cry, but we have forgotten how to weep
we breathe, but we do not subside
and come to life with each breath

I am realizing more and more
that many of us look but we do not see
we touch, but do not really feel
we hear, but do not really listen

we love, but we do not burn
we live, but we do not die
because that which is already dead does not die
and we leave, without ever having really been here in the first place

Monday, September 17, 2012


a turn back inward
the search for the lost heart
the soul's inquiry
quest for self-knowledge
to find the origin
a rediscovery of meaning
the triumph of mercy
an internalization of knowledge
relearning the language of the heart
unlearning what is not heart
remembering roots
a reification of the soul. 

conversation with the heart p. 2

The beloved asked her lover
when did you first love me?

The lover replied
I loved you before mirrors
before I could recognize my own reflection.
I loved you before I knew the words "I" and "You"
I loved you before names
and before the myriad forms.
I loved you before the need for any number greater than one.
I loved you before the sea of beginnings forever born.
I loved you before the Moon became enamored of the Earth.
I loved you blind, before sight, before light
before death and before life.
I loved you when there was only Love
and Time and Space had to be created
just so Love could find expression.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

confessions p 22

Sometimes, I can see all the world's ills in myself. 
To some degree or another 
I can see that which we recognize as good or evil in my own heart. 
If that is the case, and all our hearts are the playground of conflicting dualities 
why do we point fingers at one another? 
As if we are all not fighting our own battles. 
As if we are all not hosts to a variety of angels and demons 
in the recesses of our own imaginations.


To be continued...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

confessions p 21

She asked me
How can you judge me differently than yourself?
What double standards
What rhetoric
What mask of your ego
protects you from your own judgement?

How are we different?
What socially constructed right
do you hide your belief
that you are somehow better
different, wiser, more clever
to be measured by your own standards?

Through what omniscience do you know
the context of the hearts' and minds' of men & women?
Through which divine clairvoyance
do you understand why people do what they do?
What sacred knowledge grants you the ease
To judge others and forget that the greatest battles
we fight are with ourselves?

Words hung their heads before the tip of my tongue
They checked their flight and speechless
Recognition dawned.
She was I and I was she.
When I spoke against her
I spoke against myself.
When I tickled her ego
I tickled my own.
When I worked toward her liberation
I worked toward my own.

With eyes like mirrors she looked at me
Twin rivers streaking down my face, my hands
Trying to hold an ocean of forgotten self-inflictions.
She took my hands in her own
wiped the tears from our faces
And watching myself
in the hieroglyphics of her irises
She said
This world is like standing atop a mountain
Whatever you say makes its way back to you
So choose your words carefully 
The only judge here is the echo of our own voice 

Monday, July 16, 2012

conversations with poets p. 2

Oh poet o poet, you stole all the lyrics, left none for me. Inspiration is gone and no longer comes easily. Oh muse of music, now it is my turn to hold the key

Oh mirror o mirror, the lyrics are the shell, what they hold is everlasting. Inspiration is a well that runs deeper than the deepest well in the world, older than the oldest star in the universe, and as long as there are those to contemplate Reality's ineffable effulgence, inspiration will never run dry.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Whether we are God's creation
Progeny of Adam and Eve
Or children of the stars
And the stepping stones of evolution 

Whether everything 
Or nothing is a miracle

Whether scientists discover the origin of our Universe
Or theologians find irrefutable evidence of God 

Whether alchemy or aliens
Whether intelligent design
Or evolutionary theory

At one point
Something arose 
From Nothing

Whether it was the Big Bang or Seven Days
At one point
Everything as we know it 
Materialized from absolutely nothing
And that is all I need to know

There are holes big enough for our Universe 
within the theories and understanding of men
Whether they wear white lab coats or ceremonial robes
Most sell false gold coated in certainty

So give me no gold, certainty or white robes
Take me away from everything
That takes me away from this
Each moment, each breath
A reminder of that pre-eternal dance
From Nothing to Something

Thursday, July 5, 2012

ruminations p 1

...I peered into the mirror and saw you...

...Instead of a heart, she had a mirror,
everyone who looked at her saw a reflection of themselves...

...The ugliest thing a mirror can show you is yourself...

..In my lover's memory, I traced a path completely my own...

...There is no rose without thorns...

...Hold me like your Starbucks in winter...

...I am not made of ice, to melt from a little salt...

...Falling in and out of fuck...

...The most beautiful thing a mirror can show you is yourself...

...If it bleeds, let it...

...I just went through a whole day, and I'm still asleep...

...If it beats, don't stop...

...I slept through the snooze, rushed to work, and when I got there
my dream said wake the fuck up...

...We're all stories waiting to be granted an audience...

Sea of the moment

A hush gently drapes the early morning, like mist
over everything there is a dull glow
like headlights through thick fog.
Within this sleepy silence
there appears no movement
only a kind of effortless sway
a serene dance between light and shadow,
tree leaf and grass blade; heartbeat,
breath and each blink of the eye.

Sitting here witness to the blossoming sea of the moment
I can't help but ask
why move unnecessarily?
Why assume that I really know better?
Why grasp? Why move away from this moment?
Why impose myself onto this magnificent mural,
this bewildering tapestry that I can scarcely understand? 

I just want to be as here as possible
I just want to be as me as possible.

And when I run that course
I turn around and stop running.
One by one, I remove every article of clothing,
every trinket that I have collected along this road
and one by one, those memories slip from my fingers
and the wind carries away the pieces of my heart.

Migrating birds

Somehow, I've always known what is to be done.
This life, this chance of beautiful breath
can not be lived for my sake alone.
I can not subsist by myself
this I know.
Where I'm going, feet won't take me
shoes and shawl can offer no comfort.
Where I'm going, memories do not follow.
So before this body's time is up
I would ask for wings from my dreams
to fly my soul to that final destination.

confessions p 20

I always believed beauty was in the effortless dance
of a leaf caught in the breeze, a laughing rose
the revolving night sky, serene passing of clouds
and the slow growth of root to branch to fruit...
But effortlessly, is how I want to waltz and tango through these killing fields
Effortlessly, is how I want to bleed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

confessions p 19

I want to kiss someone who has tasted darkness
fall in love with the heartbroken
and drink with one who has known thirst.


I want to break bread with you
and hit the road with you.

I want to rush through a day with you
only to watch the stars on our backs at night.

I want to work up an appetite with you
See the sweat gather and glisten on your skin
The sun reflected in the hieroglyphics of your irises.

I want to watch your calves clench
as your toes tell the stories of your swaying hips to the earth.

I want to share a meal with you
when we're both hungry and there's not much food.

I don't need to know how you got your scars
but I want to see how you carry them.

I want to see you when you're alone with your soul.

I want to hear all the frequencies of your voice
I want to know what keeps you up at night
what drives you and what lies at the heart of your heart.

I want to take in your silences
and taste the salt of your tears.
I want to see you in all your colors
your arrays of yellows, blues and reds
I want all your shades of black and white
your purples, your bruises
and the scarlet of your scars.
Don't you dare hold back such beautiful history from me.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Thank you p. 2

Today, I am at peace
I slept a full night
With a full belly, under warm covers
and the roof of a friend
I arose in the morning with red breasted robins
To a mid Spring sky
I rode a bike through a park of tulips
And wooden bridges winding along a canal
I felt the mist from the falls
Everywhere there was light
Through the fingers of a child chasing butterflies
On the tip of my lashes when I faced the sun
Glinting off passing cars and bicycle handles
Like the slow streak of meteorites in a time lapse video.

Smoked out

Smoke ribbons under lamp light
Dance and drag coiling skirts
Behind a cherry orbit


Love is like a joint
It can't stay in one hand for long.
So take a few tokes
And pass it to the person closest to your left rib.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Conversations with the heart p. 1

Heart, I said
what do you need to tell me your final destination?

Shall I find a clearing in this forest of limbs where each instant,
there are dozens of branches reaching out to meet your touch?
Shall I dispose of the old water in this bottle
so we will have no other choice but to find a fresh spring?

Heart, you are my guide to the unseen,
I am blind and you are my seeing dog.

Heart, I whispered
sometimes I am afraid of your destination.
So I pretend you are the destination.

You know where you are going
you were carved from the walls of your former home
you sing with the memory of its hallowed halls
and to your former home you shall return, whole.

But you are heavy with half-loves I have forgotten to forsake.
I have kept you prisoner to a sea of endings forever born,
held you in a perpetual Autumn
warmed with only last winter's dying coals.

Every moment,
there are tens of thousands of souls rushing into this world.
Every moment, there are tens of thousands of worlds
fading into the white and black of memory.

as much as I try to keep you fettered and caged
I felt you stir free like the wind this morning.

I felt the kiss of the morning sun today and forgot how to breathe.

to be continued

Sunday, April 29, 2012

conversations with poets p. 1

I had a vision of leaking light from a wound, as though dying. The only way I could reconcile the pain was from bleeding all that light out into everything I was doing. Somehow I know that is the only way I will find peace. 
That was not death but birth. That which you were was escaping to illuminate the world around it.
A guru of sorts told me to find guidance in the line "let me die, and become the breath of the breathless." I need to die. I need it like so many waking hours need sleep. I need it like life. And I've been up so long, eating and drinking past my fill, stealing light from the early morning hours. 
There is no death. Only change. And change you will. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I know why they cry sometimes

I remember
you were sitting on your knees 
in a bathtub half full of water
and I was standing on my toes 
watching the mascara run down your face
as you held me in your mouth.
Knees trembling, my whole body quivering
like a tightly drawn bowstring
and I had to hang onto the curtain rod for balance.
Still on your knees, you arched your back and sat up
your mouth swelling with the storm gathering inside me
hanging on by my fingertips, my legs shaking uncontrollably 
my mouth, as incapable of speech as yours.
When I finally came like rain after a drought
a flood, a tsunami, dumbstruck
as waves of the ocean's roar shook my body
like a leaf. Unable to stand, I collapsed on the toilet bowl
and I remember feeling an overwhelming need to cry or laugh
and not knowing how you'd take the tears
I laughed and I laughed, like thunder 
from dry storm clouds finally granted release.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


There is a battle being fought for your mind
Everywhere, men hawk their idols
Don't succumb to the fear they sell
There is enough fear in the great spaces between stars
There is enough fear in the hollowness of our being here
We are shadows that have burst into color
Light, we are candle flames in the dark


Science did not kill god
Those who took up the name of god killed god
Those who substituted the fathoms of the unknown
For a false divinity made in their own image have killed god

(You, who have made of God
Some notion of an ideological judge
Are the true idol worshipers
Because what you worship is certainly not God)

You who have denatured the reality of the divine spark
That is in everything yet is no thing in particular
And cast the unimaginable spectrum of all-possibility
Into the ugly role of some moralistic judge
-More human than divine-
You do not worship God
You only wear the name, you have made an image of god
An idol of ideas which you use to cast fear unto others
You remind us of your idol's righteous wrath
And speak in honeyed tongues as you ration out its mercy
(Like food to soldiers)
Your idol may be great
It may tower over any structure
It may even blot out the sun
But we see your idol
And though we can no longer see the sun
We can still see the rays of its truth
Tout your god all you want idol-worshiper
We can see that it is unmoving
As incapable of action as a board of wood
Your idol does not frighten us
We will not bow or be bowed to anything but truth
We will walk among you
And on nights like this we will cast down your idols
Because we will not live
In the shadow of those who tower over us
By twisting scripture into pedestals and thrones
We will cut through the ranks of your idols
Until we arrive at the last one
The mother of all idols
Will wear our own face
Our own selves we will battle at the end
So that in our final hours
-When we must all take that step without feet-
We may greet the darkness in its own tongue
With a familiarity born not of fear, not fear
But love, and love, and love...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Confessions p. 18

These words have been a companion to me,
they have been my global ambassadors
They have facilitated my reconciliation with the world.
From the beginning when I entered this labyrinth
I have laid a string of words to mark and trace my way back out.
The fibers of that guideline are laden with the taste of salt n copper
they are drawn tight around the corners, fraying at the bends
Like a cross continental power line
the lifeline of my memory disappears behind me into the horizon.
Some places, it lies submerged in forgotten pools
gathering floating oddities,
Underneath the canopy of forest leaves
it has grown into the moss,
Beneath the crest of waves deep under the possibility of light
it has become a part of the seabed
like a fading trail through the perpetual darkness.
Over the hills it hangs through heights, sometimes
it catches droplets of morning dew, and for a few brief moments
a string of small suns are reflected along its length,
Occasionally, one of those droplets falls
like a tiny shard of a mirror dazzling and glistening
with the colors of the solar system
as it falls to the earth like a moist kiss from the sky.

Monday, April 16, 2012

cave dwellers

They will say
we lived in a broken home
somewhere between darkness and light
sometime between day and night
we wore our chains like our favorite clothes
walked backwards and couldn't stand the sight of our own footprints.
They will say
we built walls out of our fears to protect us
lived lives dictated by what not to do.
We forgot
the colors of the sky
we forgot
the stars out in the middle of nowhere.
We built a broken home
brick by brick, fear on fear
somewhere between darkness and light
sometime between day and night.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

quotes 2

"I didn't know what to ask for anymore. As soon as I started thinking about what to wish for, I couldn't escape knowing that I had everything I needed. I saw a road leading to every wish I could truthfully make. Before me I saw a tower made of fear, ever rising, while a pair of golden boots shone from its top as it lay surrounded by two moats of desire and lethargy. I crossed the moats, though it took many years. I climbed the tower, though it took even more. When I put on the boots, it was like they were made for me...and I have not stopped walking since."

Monday, April 2, 2012

confessions p 17

I never told you, that time
when you missed your flight
and had to stay another night
I wept as you slept, awestruck
by how beautiful you are

and I wondered whether
I could return your love better
than the last man who broke your trust

Heart Diaspora

We speak of home. What is home for the diasporic? Are we not all on a diaspora? Spiritual beings on a physical diaspora. What home? We do not know the word. And if home is where the heart is, then let us tend to the heart and defend the "republic of the imagination." For without it, we are nothing but meaningless cogs in an accidental clockwork universe devoid of a higher consciousness than our own. And though some find this easy enough to believe, we would be extremely presumptuous to believe that we are the highest form of consciousness thus produced within a universe spanning billions of years and birthing untold numbers of stars, solar systems and galaxies; not to mention the potentially infinite number of other universes and bubbles of existence between the plains of pre-eternity to post-eternity. Or it could be that we are the crowning achievement in this sea of being and becoming. The microcosm to the macrocosm of the universe. Either way, we have not yet experienced but a drop of that which we are truly capable. Consciousness has so much room to grow within all of us. We should be fighting to learn about ourselves patiently everyday, over years, lifetimes, generations, and ages. We are such a young species; we are only the earliest blossoms of humanity's spring. Trees have been growing for 700 million years. Can you even imagine what a story that old would sound like? Do you think you would be able to hear it if it were being told everyday-every moment you spent outdoors? What if one day you wake up and find yourself able to hear the all sagas that are being told around you? And you begin to hear tales in the slow shuffle of your neighbor's crooked step. And jutting out like the veins in a leaf, you start to read the stories that the trees never tire of telling. And that tiny green shoot growing between a crack in the concrete becomes an epic [Homerian] narrative of hope, of struggle and grace in growth; a heroic celebration of life over prisons of stone. Can you imagine what would happen to you if you heard all these tales? Your ears might take on the sensitivity of a virgin's  lips or a soldier's wound. You might rush to that insignificant plant and cry tears of elation over the marvel of its everyday growth through layers of rock and man-made sediment. "If you can grow between the layers of concrete, oh my green ancestor, then I too can grow a heart from these walls that my fathers and I have erected between ourselves and others who call this place home."

Monday, March 26, 2012


as an artist without a paintbrush
i use my tears as the paint
with which i try to recreate
the stars on a clear night
upon the floor of this borrowed home
where we dance and kneel
where we bleed and peel
back layers from the night sky
of our own dark hearts.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

confessions -1

While I still breathe
every mortal moment 
of my life is timeless
though I am not.
So do not comfort me 
with promises of reconciliation
in another world
this is the only one we know
this moment, the only one we live

Thursday, March 15, 2012

ode to artists in exile and the freedom of expression

Do you know what it's like to write a poem about your home
and not be able to share with your neighbors?
Or what it's like to make an international award-winning film
about your people and then be outcast from your country?
Can you imagine singing a song that captures the heart of a nation
only to be barred from setting foot there again?
[The artists in my country are bleeding.]
The flowers in my country are torn from their roots
before they have a chance to blossom
Hear me out. Imagine, the very next time you come up here
to this stand and perform a poem before this mic,
you go home and sleep, like any other night
and the following day you get a letter in the mail,
signed by the highest authorities, informing you
that you must never again return to your birthplace
that you may never again see your parents in their own home.
I can't speak to that...I'm not there, yet.
But one of the saddest tones of the human voice I've ever heard
was a man singing about the separation from his homeland and mother
and what broke his heart was that he couldn't be there
to bury her when her time came.
So for all the artists out there, all the boys, girls, men and women
with fire in their lips, hands and feet
who are questioning whether or not to continue
keep perfecting your craft.
Don't take it from me, take it from the exile.
This is our greatest liberty, the expression of our humanity.
So the next time you come up here, keep that torch burning baby.
Keep it burning for the rest of us,
keep it burning for those who are kept in darkness.
And I would humbly ask that you not only keep the torch burning
but that you feed it until it burns so bright
that it illuminates even the darkest corners of human imagination

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Do you remember...
Do you remember where you were born?
Do you remember the words whispered
and murmured over you in the womb?
Do you remember the sounds of your parents lovemaking
when you were conceived?
Or their promises when you were given birth?
Do you remember your birth?
Was it when you came tumbling head over heels, crying
while still hanging onto the umbilical cord of your former self?  
Was it when your parents first laid eyes upon one another?
Was the song of your birth written hidden
foretold in the genetic code of your first forefathers?
Or was it when the sun first laid rays on the virgin body of water?
Was it when the earliest wave heard the call of the moon--
broke to the shore and spelled your name on the sand in its wake
before returning to the ocean?
Do you remember the stories that the trees have been whispering
through their roots and singing through their leaves for millions of years?
Do you remember when we were held in the womb of the stars?
Or when they died?
Do you remember the universe echoing
with the glory of the unapologetic death of ten thousand suns?
Or the passing of untold numbers of people, creatures, plants,
planets, stars, and solar systems for life right now?
Do you remember...
before word, before memory and before birth
Do you remember the divine notes of that primordial sound
perforating what was not yet silence?
It was not the sacred beginning--because all is sacred,
But it was a beginning, our beginning.
And those stars dying like cells splitting were creating something new
So what had to die to pave the way for the birth of this universe?
I may never understand. It may never even matter.
So let us know nothing
like the nothing before the eye of the universe was opened
and maybe, like that wave rushing for the coast
we will arrive, leave our mark on the shore
for a few moments, and remembering home
return on the long journey back to the heart of the ocean
and all the cradles from which we sprung to life.
Back to the earth, to animals and plants, to volcanic ash and water.
Back to supernovas and the first star nurseries
among interstellar clouds and nebulae.
And when we have tasted the perpetual darkness before light
and drank down enough of both to contain the sum of all experience
then, we may return, with a few stories of our own
to that foremost moment of inexpressible possibility
the birth of birth itself.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

a short history

At first

to the last seam

and then 

a thousand beams
into a sun
a thousand suns
into a heart
and untamed

upon which 

masks come undone
violins unstrung
throats unsung 
for thousands of years
break unbridled
the strong, the meek and lame
the wise, mad and vain
the proud, forgotten, and slain 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

quotes 1

"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated and to never complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget."

-Arundhati Roy

Friday, February 17, 2012

thank you p. 1

I had one moment
one pure, unfiltered moment
and the veils were lifted
for a split second
and I knew, oh I knew
that I was watching
the universe undress itself.
It took me a soaked shirt
before I could put words
to that moment of unveiling.
And even now, I can't tell
if I was crying or laughing
but I remember
for the barest of moments
I was made aware
of a beauty so indescribable
the only way I could express
its recognition was through
pouring tears and rolling laughter.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

confessions p 16

You are your own universe.
The Unnameable became man
so that man could become unnameable
In you, lies an entire world
the purgatory of your own deliberation
and all the heavens and hells.
You are a drop of the great churning heart of the cosmos
you are the universe looking back upon itself
the crowning achievement of consciousness.

You arouse the jealousy of the greatest Angels
and when you burn through your clay chains with Love
the stars themselves gleam with envy. Don't you know?
Don't you know that when Love was created
none could bear its tremendous weight
neither the mountains or the oceans
nor the ancient earth--not even the heavens?
None, but you.
You are a mirror unto this dance
between being and non being.

Like a black hole, we swallow up
solids, fluids, gasses, even light!
Our hands are executioners
smiling lips reading out death sentences
our teeth, guillotine blades
mouths the sacrificial alters
through which we keep ourselves alive.

Through the story of our bodies
you could trace the passing of our seasons
like the damp before the storm
and the rosy blush of blossoms
like long luminous days and the slow trickle
of sweat over sun-wrinkled skin
like the ripe fullness of harvests and the changing leaves
before the cold stiffness of our final winters
when we will all take that step without feet
and "they will ask you
what you have produced
say to them
except for Love
what can a Lover produce?"

**Rumi quote

the truth is like the sun

I have no words
for the perfect revolution of stars and planets.
That would be like
describing the brightness of day
or the darkness of night.
I have no words for the vibration
of the smallest building blocks in particles.
I am barely aware
of the thousand and one dominoes
that must fall in place for me
to even say this right now.
If just one of those dominoes missed a beat
I could have been illiterate
I could've been born deaf, blind and mute
or I wouldn't be able to breathe
or I would've never been born to parents who love me
or the earth would be too close to the sun
or the universe would not expand
and matter would never come into existence.
I could have been dead
a hundred times from sunrise to sunset.
I could have come into this world as a stone
or a dog, or a muddy stream
but I don't have the consistency of a rock
I don't have the loyalty of a dog
or the mercy of water.
I have no words
for the perfect revolution of stars and planets.
That would be like
describing the brightness of day
or the darkness of night.
I have no words for the vibration
of the smallest building blocks in particles.  
I am speechless before the sublime serenity
of this dance between stars, atoms and hearts.

Every journey is a circle

This is what I want you to do
turn off the lights
close your eyes
let your entire body become an ear
for your own heartbeat.

Talk to someone who can tell you your childhood stories
play all of your favorite songs
dig through the relics of your past
look at old photos
remember past lovers
promises made and broken
remember every moment you can't forget
even the ones you didn't enjoy
don't dwell
just, listen.

Trace with your fingers
the shimmering aurora of your past
and somewhere in the night sky
you will see the shining outline of your future.

the confinement of words p 7

People who claim mastery over the world
are often most afflicted by it
"The world is an ancient master"
and does not fold beneath images
In the world of images and words
Everything is and becomes its opposite
Let me step out of these black and white 
compositions into color. 


Rumi quote 

ceaseless sojourn

On that day
I will walk
and I will have
"miles and miles before I sleep."
I will walk
until the only mirror I come across
is that of my own heart


Friday, January 27, 2012

Revolution Intro

We were revolutionary babies.
Born after the revolution of 1979 in the middle of a war
We were the children of revolution and war
And there are entire generations of us

Raised on rations, air raid sirens
And tales of the ancient empire.
Raised behind closed doors and under veils.
Raised on the past because the future was bleak.

On the TV, we watched foreign cartoons
And men of 'peace' preaching about the enemy.
We lived in an Animal Farm (George Orwell book)
Where those concerned only with profits kill prophets
and script scripture because they deal in the trade of Truth
Where the images of martyrs are plastered over walls as ads
Where the graves of unidentified soldiers in parks and hiking paths
Serve as reminders extolling the virtues of the Republic.

We were fed the ashes of our parents' dead dreams
And we were waiting to come rushing into the world
At the bottom of their well of hopes.

We were the safety net waiting to catch our fathers' ideological fall
We were the wishes that our mothers aimed and shot at the stars
And they loaded us with everything they had.
We were the prayers of the war-torn and the revolution-tattered
And even as the pillars of our parents' ideologies crumbled around them
We were held up like banners as if to say
"You almost fooled us!"


For the rest of the piece...http://alialikhani.blogspot.com/2011/02/revolution.html

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What's in a tear?

I am an alchemist
I make mirrors out of hearts
I am more than an alchemist
I make something out of nothing
I am nothing
I can make something of my nothing.

Watch my tears turn into a leaf, a shoot
Grains of sand, desert flowers
An extended talon, the gaze of a tulip.
My tears are parachutes
They are floodlights in a storm

They are letters lost in the mail
They are notes in a bottle
Bobbling over the waves
They are sparks leaping upward
They are flares in the middle of the ocean

My tears are dolphins, leaping and streaking
Over the golden waters of the sea on a summer day
They are peals of children's laughter
And the exclamation of newly discovered life.

My tears are the flight of birds
They are the promise of migration
They are the arc of a sword swing
The hungry teeth of the blade.
My tears are a blacksmith's anvil
My heart is the forge
the blade is my memories
And the target is myself

Sunday, January 8, 2012

take two

she smiles
"Have you given yourself entirely to your Beloved?"

"No" he responds.
"I have given away my clothes
and come before Her naked.
I have folded the paper wrapper of my self
and returned it to the world
as the debt I owed it upon birth.
To my Beloved, I dare not impose
such a burden as a self, no matter how refined.
All the packaging in the world, no matter how elaborate
will capture even a moment of Her attention.
It is my very self that keeps me from my Beloved.
Were She to glimpse even a shred of it
I would be left with only Her shadow
and She would leave me for another more selfless.
My Beloved resides not in the realm of words
She flees from the false countenance
of the currencies of words and images.
The only receptacle for Her terrible brilliance
lies in the inner ocean of the heart of man."

confessions p 15

It is a dance, whirling before me
like a constant drop and buildup
of rolling melodies against a sea of cacophony.
It is the growth of seed to tree
It is the eating of a fruit
It is the laughing bloom of the rose
and its slow growth through the heavy earth.
It is the passing of seasons. 
An accumulation of now.
It is a single dot of punctuation
in the greatest story ever told.


We are like the drops 
that make up the crest of ocean waves
like the rays from the sun
and the blessing of darkness.
We are the words to the greatest story ever told
and the impossible notes on the scale of infinity.
We are the individual breaths 
of god's human life
one leading to the next.
We came from the light.
We came from the endless fields of pre-eternity
to taste one moment of this now. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

birds and lashes

They say you are yourself
when you are alone.
If that is so, this chapter in my story
can be summed up in a single teardrop
quivering on the cusp of vision
melting perception and perceived together.
O you who would know the song of my lament
I've spent so many nights
asking my heart "what are you?"
I've bled so many tears
over the bones of my breast
that a path has been carved
through the sinew and flesh
seeping straight to the bloody beat of my being.
I chase sorrow like love hangs in the balance.
I want to taste all of them, every heartache
I long for the notes of every one of those songs.
I race along the foreign shores of imagination.
I become the teardrop coursing down the cheek
of every broken-hearted soul.
I am like the smoke to the smoldering heat
of their searing stories.
They breathe through me
I release their fumes.
The flames breath, and I bleed
till it is no longer me bleeding.
I am just a single teardrop
offering myself to every cheek
that has a [love] story to tell.

the confinement of words p 6

We will come up with different ways
to describe ourselves
and names with which to identify.
Being names, they will never truly contain
the spectrum of our being.
We are not of the realm of names.
By virtue words can not hold us.
Come away with me
let's step outside
the glass house of these words.

confessions p 14

This is for
all the days and nights
that I wrote with a broken pen
all the floors that soaked the salt of my story.
This is for the stirring in my heart, the swelling in my chest
which melts my vision, squeezes out of my eyes
and courses over my hands down the length of the pen.
This is for the shadows of the tears
that sometimes trail down the length
to the tip of my pen onto the page.