Rigorous
Volume Two, Issue 2



Alia Hussain Vancrown


The Blue Pearl

The hundredth name of God                intentionally left a mystery
              inviting pursuit                                       never revealed to mankind
a defined quality of the Divine              we fill in the blank                    during the times
              in our lives      we are lost                       we are misguided                      turned to face
                                                                    another way      in other words
                           You name God                            whatever you need        the name         to be
with care          and thought as if           you were naming                        your child
              and the name  can change                                   as often as you               give birth
                           how beautiful                is that
                                         we are responsible       for the naming of things
              exactly              the moment                                                                            we need
                                                                    today                   the name needs to be
                           blue pearl at the center of my skull
                                         tomorrow                      it can go back   to being                photo album
              of two generations deceased                                            next year              lightning
resculpting       the willow’s      trunk               new splinters                   new branches
              there are answers         in the bone    of the coelacanth’s          lobe-fin             or the story
the prophet tore off                    a piece of his own quilt           rather than disturb        the feline
              asleep upon it                            and wouldn’t it be                       just as revolutionary
as quiet love     if we      tear down                   the pillars and the men’s voices
              share this blanket         share these dates                      break the fast as the sun slumbers
there is a cockroach on the wall                       and it belongs there                        it’s just living and
              what if the name was fear       was ugly            had too many legs                        would we
extinguish its life beneath our heels                               or would we take it out               into the night
                           let its shell gleam          the stars                         constellation of blue pearls
                                                      ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred
                                         a belt    a bow   an arrow
                                                                                  see its target    the horizon          just over there.




On Behalf of Atheist Muslims Everywhere

١

We exist. Trust us.
True as ark in flood

half imbalanced animal
half eyespot for mimicry,

deception, startling the predator
pre-attack. Case in point:

Salman Rushdie among
أحاديث on my shelves

and I was hollered at
hollowed out

for unlearning
how to burn giants.

We are proud as
we are sorry.

Our parents don’t know
a thing, or they do and are quiet

or they do and our dreams
are black sorcery stoppered

in the tiniest, dustiest,
least reflective bottle.

To be less or fewer than
is our destined equation

that we exponentially
muddy and sexualize

to the great horror
of old, dead men:

oh
well. Deep, dark well.

Lightning begins and ends
in our hearts.

We are the willows that bow
before nothing on no decreed night.

Our death masks will show
the weight of what we spoke

to fireflies
before we released them.

We say, go be
the little, impermanent

light you are. You’ll die
yourself, you’ll die beautiful.


٢

                                         عالية
My name means sublime. Exalted.
Noble. A list of things I know how to do:

              caress
              destroy
              photograph the moon               hitch dead loved ones onto it
              transliterate
              insert birds in everything
              house in the nailbed | a history splintered
                                                       yet divine.

It will hurt to know me.
Diaspora is my favorite word but so is migratory.
Our entire romance will be based on unsure footing on infertile land.

Grief is a lot like this:
Your feet will sink and emerge as the herd around you
watches the uncertain pattern. Interfering with nature is detrimental to ecosystems.

So say the saviors.

And so we, you and I, will walk the right path to water
or we’ll thirst and thirst during the monogamous journey of separation.


٣

الحمد لله and إن شاء الله‎
roll off the tongue so easily
except to those of us whose mouths
are harpoons and sea monsters.

It’s blasphemous never to thank
the skies for their painter, but the hand that falls
is the same hand that sweeps hellish scenery.

Lack
builds
empathy.


٤

When the world ends
purple smoke will put us all
to blissful, painless sleep.
The sun will rise in the west
and set in the east.
النبي عيسى will come back
to die as a man.

We just want to know
how many catastrophes
it will take before humans
obsess over life
the way
they obsess over the significance
of a mustard seed.


٥

إن شاء الله‎ soon O Sisters and Brothers
no one will judge our odious desires.

Our breath is a star.
Our breath is a fire.


Alia Hussain Vancrown: "I have published in journals and magazines in print and online. My poetry has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I currently reside in the U.S. See www.AliaHussainVancrown.com."




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