Slouching Towards Ijtihad



I remember you telling me about the war

a grey cotton dress and a letter written in Dari

you would never read.


The impression

of the waves holding you under the loss of youth

the sense that nothing is lyrical.


I cannot name

the nightmares or the girl who had been

hit by a sniper’s bullet.


There were days when these things took their toll

the hijrah within you walked too closely

to the divisions of simplicity

the devastations to the Sufi doctrine

the mountaintops back home

the revelations that revive the dispossession.


You were afraid of your people

your ummah in exile and the loss that comes

for ordinary believers

afraid that God remains in actions

even in life away from the divine

the constantly occurring

change of qiblah.


We are both children of Radio Armenia

painting the sky with doves in the movie seen together

through the tears welling carving “it was all in vain”

on the gravestones of the uneducated

the light coming through your body with a star in your hand

to explain our way of reacting to the world.




 Joey Sheehan is a poet from Baltimore, Maryland. His first collection, New Queer Cinema and Other Poems, was published locally in 2015. He is a graduate of the University of Baltimore creative writing MFA program.

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