Ramadan Day 26 – misc. poem

I ran into Wazina Zondon when I was out walking with Penny the other day.  Wazina, along with Terna Hamida Jahnjeh Tilley-Gyado, are the creators/producers of an amazing theater piece called “Coming Out Muslim.”  I’m very heartened by the work that they and so many others, including members of my Queer M book group in NYC have done to educate people, and to build solidarity.

There’s just something super refreshing about running into a fellow faster who you know supports you, who won’t question you or judge you for what you are or aren’t doing during the fast, who doesn’t disqualify you on the basis of your sexual orientation.  This is how I felt running into Wazina.

Wazina and I discussed our fast.  Despite the harder moments, she was uniquely positive about this year’s fasting.  (Most of my pals and I have been griping).  It could be just her naturally great perspective on life, but when I mentioned to her my surprise that fasting was a particularly good experience this year, she immediately credited Terna:  “Well, Terna and I were discussing the fast, and when I asked her about it, she told me it was important to prepare for Ramadan.”


Preparation.  How many times did the doctor tell me that if I was worried about the fast I should prepare?  Practice fasting, he’d say.  Don’t wait to fast.  Fast now.  Like a million times he’d say this stuff.  Seriously.  Again, he is so annoyingly always right.


The other day, a writer I really admire, asked me how I was so prolific during Ramadan.  She was definitely referring to my blog posts because I’m a slow-ass writer when it comes to novels, short stories, and poems.

The only answer I had at that moment was discipline.  I squeeze it in to all the moments, even when I’m tired.

But, I was so pleased to be called prolific (not to mention shocked), that I’ve decided to reconsider the question.

One reason I’m able to write is because I had a plan to arrange my life to make space for writing.  I left lawyering so I could have months like the past couple months, like this Ramadan, where I had hours (rather than minutes) here and there, to write in between jobs.

One could say I prioritized, but I don’t think that’s really true.  But it’s also important to remind myself that when I first tried to write, I failed.  This was about seven to eight years ago, when I first left lawyering to try and become a writer.  I couldn’t support myself.  I was lucky, my mom could help me out.  I was unemployed.  I spent a lot of time distressed in a very hot apartment in Pasadena.  After much heart-wringing, I went back to lawyering.  It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life, and I was able to do more legal work I love, work that has defined my life and taught me great lessons.

I love/loved lawyering, but I wasn’t writing as much as I am now.

But wait, there’s another thing, I’ve been relatively healthy during Ramadan.  That’s definitely why I can write as much as I do, relatively.  This year, with the Union Square attack, hurting my back, bed bugs, and especially with my mom having to undergo surgery weeks before Ramadan, I’ve come to appreciate how close I am to things going so terribly wrong that I can’t write at all.

One intention that I have set forth during Ramadan is to recognize the blessings that Allah has given me.  Believe it or not, that is hard.

I don’t ever want anyone to believe that writing is inaccessible, or that writing is just about talent or luck.  I’ve come to believe that it’s like the immigrant story.  It’s not straightforward.  You can work really hard and succeed.  You can work really hard and fail.  You can stop working and fail.  It’s not fair.  There’s a lot of intangibles in there like privilege and adversity and bias and discrimination.  One person’s success can look a lot different than another person’s success.  Some of us have to work harder. Some of us have to make a lot of mistakes before we get things right.


T’s voice is in my head again:  “Prepare for success.  How many people are always preparing for failure, or the worst case scenario.  But when success comes to people, and it does to many, they have no idea how to handle it, no idea how to accept it graciously, or even, to be grateful and to enjoy it.”

The only way to prepare myself to really love something I’ve written, is to write and write, until something appears on that page that I really love.

I’m gonna get ready by writing.


In the meantime, in the interest of not being a complete hypocrite, this poem really needs work, but I promised myself I’d write today:


On the train again, the next stop is Mecca or

it is home. We are never prepared to waken.

We are never prepared for the fast, for our

children to know us. The ending is abrupt, but

how was the ride?


What is the difference between a love for

Islam and a love for Allah? Is there any?

We rarely think philosophy when we pray

for our family. But all the hatred, rage, shame

with which we wreck the world. Love, still.


I want to tell you about three small children

to each a role was given, until one day,

the middle child, quiet yet bolder, no

longer held between extremes. She broke out,

ran before her horse, past the gate into Heaven.


When fasting remember to eat poetry, the words

make no sense in lieu of a meal, yet the taste

is a spice to your sensations, how rhyme tames

your hunger, curled up, a sleeping caterpillar,

Ramadan, when Allah runs a finger along your spine.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. dramarams
    Jul 15, 2015 @ 23:47:33

    Serena and Wazina bumping into each other in BK. You didn’t see me. But I was there too. Behind the tree ❤



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