Bazira, Barikot, Blasphemy, Bloodbath


Indo-Greek weapons, coins, and pottery
of the second century BCE are excavated

in Bazira, Barikot, Swat, Pakistan.
Imported artifacts from Greek Bactria, far-reaching,

pit Italian and Pakistani archaeologists
side-by-side, shielding one another from dust.

Unearthed, is light.
Confirmation of Buddhist architecture.

Evidence that borders cannot foresee
the future so blending, so bleeding.


Amjad Sabri sings Qawwali
for the final time during sehri,

when people are awake before sunrise
to begin their fast, to pray and cry.

He sings of loneliness and fear
in the dark grave, Ya Rasul-Allah,

please come to my aid, bless me
with luminance when I take my last breath,

owner of the green dome, my master,
grant me shelter under your cloak

for I have sinned, and my sins
are dust.


Hours later—Karachi, Pakistan:
Amjad Sabri is gunned down in his car

by two men on a motorcycle.
The Taliban claim responsibility,

say that blasphemy is rewarded
with so much blood, so much bleating.


I recall Hazrat Bilal, the prophet’s companion
whose voice brought him so close to heaven

that Allah did not permit the sun
to rise until Bilal sang.

Every morning, dawn glosses on time.
Our dim voices awaiting excavation.


Published in Unlikely Stories.

Brown Girl, Brown Girl