Daraa
even amidst the violence
sounds like a poetic city
but then
they mutilated first and killed later
a thirteen year old boy named Hamza
My first crush in third grade had a name
like that
I remember pulling his bobbing brown
hair and snickering
like the clumsy flirt I
still am
"He loved rain," his father
told the reporter with articulate fingers
The transition of tenses
from present to past can raze complete
futures in a matter of seconds
feeble shifts in structures as bland
as grammar
can kill entire fathers
can smother
whole mothers and siblings and
decades of love in a matter of seconds
It can mark persecutions
can start executions
spark revolutions
in a matter of seconds

The awareness of life's shortness
is too big
to be able to let aimless fun linger
in its cramped architecture
But then sometimes I think maybe
if I read fewer newspapers
if I got married and only mastered
the art of tea parties
if I biked around the world alone
like last night in Boston
and chased the jasmine cool
of summer's nightly skirt
all the way to China
Maybe then I will forget
those identical bullet wounds
searing through his elbows
into his chubby stomach
and maybe then I will stop hoping
that they cut his penis
when he was already dead

It is here! they say
spring is finally come
elevator conversations today
were mostly cheerful and sleeveless
I was almost glad
to log into a digital reality
where projects are always pending
and financial cycles are too impatient
to dry the thick tears
of existential mooning
A colleague stepped in for a question
I asked her why she looked so
very weak and pale
she began to smile and gave me an
endless "Well...."
her hand slowly slid
down to her belly
"It's almost been a month
I haven't told anyone."

I can't stop myself
from feeling like he is there
in the cubicle next to mine
with soft little elbows
a gorgeous little penis
I wonder how his parents must have
begun to deflect their sentences
at the future already
and how the flux in grammar
must be so exciting in his house
I wonder if he will also
love the sound of rain
And I wish his life's summer
will save him
from the claws of revolutions
and the presumptuous
paws of pain.

About the Poet

Asnia Asim moved to the United States from Pakistan a few years ago. She uses poetry to plow through and understand the cultural and personal dissonance that sprouts from geographical displacement. Her work has appeared in print and online journals including Timber Creek Review, Desi Writers Lounge, and Maya Tree.