…whatever vow you vow, surely Allah knows it;
     and the evil-doers will have no help.
          Qur’an, Sura 2:270

It was no dream, back then,
in the high cold between the mountains,
at the rim of the gravel pits west of the city,
watching the dog fights, the men with whips taking bets,
where we swore to it; and again later we swore to it
where the money-changer’s boy brought us tea on a copper tray.
I kept faith, kept to faint goat-tracks in snow,
became both wraith and arrow. Embedded,
a blade-end in your rib.

You remember, there in your broad California,
how dust hangs like breath or gold in the air here
in the Land of the Two Rivers.
In this maze of narrow lanes there will be no mercy—
that word in my throat has been slit.
You will be given to drink from the various goblets of death.
It is written: He who warns is excused.


Published in:
Little Star Journal, Vol. 2 (2011).