abnormal turned default.

The cross keeps my shoulders up only because I’m aware of it. I feel a fence in my jaw and my first word on a pike, the latch in my teeth, feel an unaging stiffness in my arms, memory from back when I used to be god, used to be good. My hands bleed from…

Eris ka Rishta Aya Hai.

Not made for marriage, not puppet enough to fold, to origami into domestic, into small, with these hands too big to be held, mouth open enough to hold the world and cherry-knot into being; I crack it in half and let the rivers run at my feet, through my hair, big angry god in lipstick….

kash/mir

I’ve never been good with beginnings; my people only how to be ended but our family followed their noses out of that, imprint of parent and parent, parent of parent, on each child’s face, generational echo screaming itself into new life across the abyss, into new death, DNA linking to DNA into rope flung across…

On hostel life

I hate this place when it’s empty – even more than I do when it’s full. I hate the silence because it’s not what my parents would call a barkat wali silence, not the comfort of sitting among people you know will keep you safe, that you can trust. It’s absolute loneliness, the stench and…

Zainab and the Hierarchy of Rape Culture

On 5th January, 2018, in Kasur, Pakistan, a missing-persons FIR was filed for Zainab by her paternal uncle, a day after she had gone missing. She had been living with her maternal aunt while her parents were away on Umrah in Saudi Arabia and had left for a madrassah in the Road Kot area near…

desi arthouse tragedy.

as I type this, my family has reached Lahore & is on its way to pick me up. i still have to do a couple of dishes but i just lotioned my hands. it’s nice to worry about the meager present for a little while; too long & it starts taking a toll. i can…

serve with denial.

i. some ungirls are unmade, cauldron pupil and bluebell flame as blue (bite) laugh, rolled up as conch and there grows a spine and slapped down and the bread bursts into shell. the cut on my cheek is to cool; smell the wet sweetness bleeding through.   ii. some ungirls eat the moon with their…

dysphoria: a post-colonial unerasing.

  i. desi atlas who hollows her consonants out so her voice pools in them, word-womb meet seed-sound, meet and devour, colonized atlas who misnames herself, carrying her father’s hand on her neck, her oversized mouth on her hunted-haunted face, animal face, her rootlessness in the dirt on her feet, snaking through the needle-spool of…

ashes to salt, dust to dust.

It rained at least four times yesterday, on and off, and; the light glided on the water like so much weightless oil, so much yellow lie, and the streets were red as Rome’s, red as dictator mouth. They-we talked and drew blood down my-our streets, made them wider for the flow. How does a flood…

to the four languages I speak: Arabic (pt. 1)

  When I was born, they poured Arabic into my ear, jug-mouth to the bowl of my ear, thick and rich and ornate, honey-sound, the nurse-maiden with breasts heavy with Islam, my holy milk. contd. at to the four languages I speak: Arabic (pt. 1) artwork by Pedro Tapa

pregnant with all of god’s alter egos.

From Gwen to Zorya, closer and closer to home but always a white breath away, defiant breath away; you put your one desi foot in and you take your blasphemous, illegal foot out and you shake this conflict of identity about and that’s what never belonging is all about, always half too much. Sun-whole passing…

the apple will set you free.

I watch the brown virgin queen, alone in her booth, legs swinging like jazz and I watch you. This is where your gaze latches on like your hands can only want to, and I tell you her mama named her after the sun to keep her from the likes of you. See that burqa; she…

you set my heart and teeth aching with sweetness.

My orange heart is tender, hope-ripe, so much that your laugh bruises it, good pain, nice pain, so-much-beauty-that-it-hurts pain. Can you blame me for hiding it away? I bury it under the shade of my ribs, under the canopy of my bone trees, hands steepled around my heathen-idol heart like a temple roof, so the…

the first word speaks.

A thickness in my voice, rock pools of voice now in cups of syllables, clipped tea for all, sugar-cube words lost in all the tears and the grief and the cries I’ve often, too often,  smothered, leaking like light, my voice a coffin and heavy with my dead, me dead, my teeth lit with sorrow….

allyship.

In the handprint on my face is the distance between loving and understanding, bridge as broken as my jaw. In mama’s slap, in the angry demands for me to hurt less, yell less, fight less, because I’m too furious, too intense, too raw, always too much, coming from those I love the most, is the…

medea’s post-partum depression.

I remember the day he told me I was difficult to hurt, biting it out in defeat. I remember that I laughed and told him I knew, my three-fourth lie; some days, I’m just good at pretending I’m untouchable, hiding how I fold on the inside like an accordion from need, each sob squeezed out…

little death, rebirth, end-all.

Breakneck, all-hands-on-deck love. You ask for my cards and I lay them face up. Fear stills my hand but love wills it. In you, I trust. Everyone sees and loves my queen of hearts but you see my suicide king, you see my Joker and you understand, and there and here and here, you bridge…

god is lost.

god is lost: a poem. Rumi sets God and me up on a blind date and we meet in his field, hidden away from the haram police. He has long hair and guitar-calloused hands and the oldest eyes you’ve ever seen. (cont.) image by agnes-cecile  

nobody puts baby in a corner.

Baby with the talker hands chattin’ up my mouth, dirty talk for my pillow mouth, baby with the slut feet all over the dancefloor, baby dances and it’s blasphemy and it’s prayer, baby dances and it’s worship and defiance and god asks for the honor to fall at those mythical feet, baby dances and it’s…

and kun, and we were.

The sun slides off like sherbet, sugar-sweat crystallizing on our brows in its wake. The trees, they laugh in shadow-speak, sight-chime light-sound, they laugh all over your face, pouring over your hands and into your eyes. We glide down the table, slipping out of the sun’s mind. A thought and we are, a thought, all…

the prophetess with the ouroboros tattoo.

Nearly nineteen but I am capital A Ageless, embalmed by my own pain, immortalized by my disappointment. I have lost too much to be mapped by time, been too many people in too many places to play by its rules now. Look at me, blazing even in the abyss you threw me into. Look at me,…

surpanakha and meenkashi fall(s) again.

Name like an éclair, I roll it around in my mouth, use my hands and tongue to smooth you and your name down into softness. Boy with the clipped talons, look at how far back I cut mine, look at what I gave up to be kind, look at how much I could hurt you…

and so, I ride away. and so, I run away.

I knock on your door. Let me in. I want to know you. I want to learn you for the rest of my life. Tell me how you pour your tea and I will hear in it every morning, hear the sunlight spill through the glass, hear the dust motes spin around in it, like…

4. to ammi jaan.

I came to the world from my mother, and to my mother from the world, womb within a womb, phoenix-birth on a loop even as I cried water and she cried blood and amniotic. Now you know I came in fire, now you know why the rage in my voice burns everything I turn its…

cassandra and circe come full circle.

this is a personal post and not meant to make sense. It’s therapy. Dear me from 6th September, 2015, I know, jaan, I know. I know. Let it all out. This will hurt like you’re dying because you are; you are the ashes I will rise from. You will cry like your heart is breaking…

for when I counted calories like they were rosary beads.

tw: anorexia. i. for control: watch me grow small and smaller with absence. My belly curves inwards with loss and my eyes open wide, heavy with tears. I am pregnant with grief, wanton with parasite; I mother my destruction, feeding it my light, my laugh, sun birthing a blackhole. Eve was punished for greed and…

a midas hand to turn to blood all it touches.

And this is me, tired of retracting my talons, tired of blunting my fangs. Now I sharpen them on Denial’s face. Now I throw my head back; my canines and resentment both catch the light and devour it whole. Look at how they just come closer. Now I feed on the terror in your eyes….

to the neutral.

Bury all that’s unsaid, the undead, Pompeii in my throat crushed under want of opportunity, bones of all too unacceptable to bloom, ark of the unvoiced, the ungodly, coasting forward on the tide of my tears, I God and you God and I prophet and you prophet and we all the sound murdered in the…

bemaar-e-gham.

My grief is wasted on those who care only until they should, only until they must. How do you uproot your heart like it’s a weed? I turn to the light of your smile, sunflower child, heart too heavy for my spine-stem. I can’t imagine ever leaving this Eden, not for all the apples and…

lumiere.

The sun sets, headed for a guiltless vacation, knowing Dawn roams listlessly, her wide-eyed moon-faced legacy. The sun is echoed in my sigh, the ring in my voice, the Van Gogh yellow of my laugh, the burn burn burn and I watch the moth-boys perish trying to fly into the heart of my flame, seeking a…

approach with caution.

The first time I met you, I reacted like all the others did: I was intrigued by your barriers, the caution tape against your mouth, the flickering lights in your eyes, a Morse code that I realized too late signaled danger. I thought they were all just mysteries waiting to be solved. Stupid Sherlock, duped…

#loveislove

To my first published poem, to pushing back against the belief that you can’t be both LGBTQIA+ and religious. To all the Orlando victims who hadn’t yet been outed, who called their parents from hospital beds. To those who couldn’t call. To my kin killed by my kin, I’m so sorry. To the same-sex relationships…

4-4-2015 (anne hathaway in love).

You fall open for me like a book. Your pulse rhymes with mine, in an endless loop of a sonnet pattern, but when we touch, it unspools, thrumming into erratic free verse, the act of coming turning you into cummings. Your face in repose, silhouetted by your night-light, is the greatest metaphor I have ever seen,…

letter from a girl who was molested: why this caged bird sings.

Guess who just got her first article published? This is for all those who have been silenced and cannot speak. I hope you feel seen. I hope you feel recognized and understood. Read, critique, share. Thank you. Here’s to many more. ‘My god said he loved me. So did my abuser.’ letter from a girl…

numbness.

Ask me what pain is, and I will laugh. A corpse can’t feel a thing. I’ve been so steeped in suffering, I can’t tell the difference anymore. I see the rust of my blood where my body let the world in, a new mouth to mark the bite of the blade, the ghost of its…

plea of the once-havers.

I thought I had made my peace with fate. I thought I had come to terms with what was asked of me that day I cried in the car about how I had become one of those people who are desirable but only until they cannot be had, the people that glimmered and dazzled and…

retold II.

Goddess; a smile and all mortals melt in the face of the sun of her joy, candle-spines softening in her inferno fingers, and she drinks them all dry until her very breath smells red, blood boiled to vapor by the heat of her gold. Divine; she is, and in the glow of her, I am,…

mania II.

color color  heat heat lust war warlust exhilaration, it all melts in flashes, moments chasing each other to devour their peers and I eat the very last survivor, teeth slicing open the day to let the flavor stain my tongue, until my lips are the color of the horizon each molar a star, each canine a shot of adrenaline. I am…

zorya.

I’m not the girl you’re looking to love. Too knowing, frightening in all my suffering, like burned skin, terrifying in my possession of it. You look at me and flinch because I don’t hide my awe-ful awareness; you look at me and you shudder from staring at the original sin in the face. I am a walking,…

an apology to my daughter.

i. Daughter of mine, if you inherit your mother’s heart, know that she is sorry for passing  the curse on, to you. A heart that stretches at the slightest pull to house an armada of temporaries and then flaps about in your chest, empty, like a flag in the wind, knocking against your ribs to…

hear me laugh.

I am all edges, all bulletproof-glass laugh and baked-clay heart, and I disorient you, don’t I? Your mama taught you that girls should be soft, should be whisper-voiced, wind-chimes for fingers and putty in your hands. But I am harsh harsh harsh, a savanna in my throat, pillar for a spine. She told you that…

tonight, god weeps for his children.

When dark swallows the sun down like a honey lemon lozenge, I watch the masjid at the corner of my street open, softly, like a moaning mouth, and out tumble the boys in white, pearls rolling out from a tight-lipped shell, orange pips spat out back from the mouth of hell itself. Except hell singed…

departure.

Dim dimmer dimmest and some. My voice sputters out like a phooljari and the lightbulb flickers before it shatters, a rainfall of glass, and it blooms little bloody buds on me. Can you hear the end calling? It has a smoker’s voice and a mouth like profanity, as obscene as legs uncrossing. This is death….

mania.

It’s all entertainment. Everybody is a circus and I lead the act, terrifying, wild, each word a detonation, each laugh a sparkler. I am color and heat, little clay statue birthed only to be shattered at the altar of the amusement gods. They fawn on me and I love my bloodthirsty deities, my hunger for…

retold.

Ariadne, I found my Theseus five years ago today. But she wore a bra underneath that armored breastplate and her Minotaur lived in the basement of her own mind, and half its face was half of mine. Ariadne, did you know there are words on the walls of the maze? Like OCD and nymphomania. I…

awareness is its own punishment.

There are questions I am asked every day, that I would rather leave unanswered.   i. ‘What do you do when your seven-year-old brother realizes his infallible godhead of a mother lies to him?’ You do for him what no one did for you; you let him cry his way out of Eden and into…

cycle.

I waded in until the water lapped at my waist, nudging my hips with its own until it was a dance, sway, sway, push. I watched the sea emerge from within herself, mother and child, head taking form out of undefined body, arms spread out wide to hug the world, laughing as she coasted forward,…

52.

Watch me deal out my pack of lies, each card a well-loved story, little paper folktales. I slap them face-down on the table, sliding each towards every Person with a capital P in my life, turn by turn, hand-made, hand-drawn. Only the best for those I care about. They are seated in a circle around…