Poem: Unbroken

White rhinoceros and baby

Unbroken

This won’t break me
or even knock me down.
I remember El Reno,
thick brown stone
and layers of cages,
a thousand men
in various stages
of hidden rages
and nothing past the wire
but wind and grass;
and I lived through that
with ten knuckles and a laugh.

Do I look crazy?
That’s okay.
Keep the games you play
and clear my way.
Break me? Come on now.
Drop a mountain
and I bust through stone.
I’m a pile of smile and bone
and when you see that light
in my eyes
you’d better step for your life.

Try, go on.
It’ll be fun.
Come with your Black Hand
and sideshow man.
Come with your entourage,
your knives and guns,
lies and history redone.
Grind my love
beneath your heel – I’ll reel it out
like blast wire,
and you’ll catch fire.

Betray me and I bleed
but that’s no test –
I fight bloody with the best.
So baby, I have to laugh.
Sorry if that lets you down
but I’m not wearing a frown
cause I’ve got Laa ilaha il-Allah
and as I look around
every glory
reflects the glory of the One,
and I stand unbroken
in the sun.

Wael Abdelgawad
January 17, 2011

Poem: Why Do You Save Me?

Sun rays shining from behind the clouds

Why Do You Save Me?

Allah, why do You save me?
Why do You guide me gently,
and push me to the light?
Am I more in Your sight

than a walking shade?
Am I bright? Do You see
my coruscating heart?
Am I living my true life?

If not, then in which shining valley
does it lie?
In whose wide eyes,
in what hungry land?

Why did You draw me by the hand
from my prison bed?
What of the souls I have loved
who are lost, who have fled

to distant cities
or turned their heads
after speaking
of inexpressible sadness?

Those who have known me best
have betrayed me,
or I have betrayed them.
Is that the grief of Bani Adam?

Why do You pull me
from the pit,
casting light on me,
accepting my regret,

giving me dreams like comets,
or signposts
to a hidden shrine?
Dreams like hands in mine.

Why, Allah? Am I more
than I seem to myself?
Where did my soul reside
in the world before birth?

If souls are troops
collected together
then where is my unit,
where was my creche?

Who am I to them now?
Who am I to the Prophets,
to the angels sweeping the sky,
to my daughter

and those who will proceed?
Who am I to You, Al-Azeez,
who hold night and day;
and when will I find my way?

Wael Abdelgawad
12-15-2010

Poem: In the Mud

Pigeon and eagle

In the Mud

Is there a tragedy greater
than a bird without wings?

Yes. It is a winged bird
that is afraid to fly.
If it would only stretch its wings
it could spring into the air
like a wind. But it imagines
that it will fall
so in the mud it crawls
looking to the sky
like an afterlife.

Wael Abdelgawad
November 11, 2010

Poem: Let Me Be True

Lonely desert road

As-salamu alaykum. Islamic Sunrays was founded to express ideas of inspiration and hope in Islam. I try to tackle issues of personal responsibility, keeping faith in difficult times, understanding Allah as a compassionate and merciful God, realizing that all of our lives have value and meaning, and following our dreams.

It may seem at first that the following poem does not fit with these ideas. I think it does, but I’ll leave that to you readers to decide, and I will not prejudice you by trying to explain my concept of the poem’s meaning. Comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Let Me Be True

When it all comes down,
let me be true.
When seas thicken to brown,
and the world grows dim,
and love scatters
like ash on the wind,
and every man lies
to protect his skin:
let me be true to You Allah,
let me be true.

To the Messenger,
let me be near:
when in a dream I sat by him
against the beam of a wrecked ship,
he in a green turban, and a battle clashing…
we drank water, and breathed,
then he turned to me, and said,
“It’s not what you speak that matters
but what you do.”
To my heaven-blessed hero
let me be true.

To my love, let me be sincere.
I stand beneath a lamp
in a sphere of light
on a desert road. I don’t peer
into the night. I listen,
beard dewed with rain,
for the footsteps of her soul.
Let me lead her to Jannah
and fulfill the shepherd’s goal.
Let me soothe her sight,
carry her through storm,
and stand like a lion
as armies swarm on.

To my little daughter,
O Allah I implore you,
let me be forever true.
When she laughs and exclaims,
“You’re so strong, Baba!”…
When I speak God’s name
and she listens solemnly,
when she leaps and believes
that I’ll save her…
To her nature and her dreams,
let me be true.

To myself – the greatest dare –
let me be real as earth.
Through the cinder heaps
and broken cities of the world
let me sweep, through black smoke,
eyes streaming, striding
like a bear. Let me hold on
to Book and pen, knife and drum,
true love as gun and guide.
Let me bow down on the roadside,
true to the Lord of the Dawn.

Let me rise, head up,
bloody and torn
but voicing truth
to the livid eyes of death,
and spreading peace
where only hate was found.
Dress me in taqwa.
Feed me dust and bone
and find me where sea meets stone
at the Western edge
when, finally, every secret is dredged,
and the world is used and done.

Wael Abdelgawad, 10-25-2010
Fresno, California

Springtime: a poem

Rainbow over mountain foothillsSpringtime

Springtime…
ocean air blows in fresh.
So much ahead:
green fields and blue skies…

Allah is kind
and He is still guiding you.
So be at peace, sister,
don’t you cry.

Innocent eyes watch you
and small hands seek yours;
they love you so much,
not knowing how you try;

but Allah knows all.
He sees your struggle,
and your sapphire soul
shines in His eyes.

One bright spring morning
you’re going to wake up singing
your heart so light
you could take off and fly.

You’ll walk up the hill
and come home to your true love;
you’ll dance and pray
and on life you’ll be high.

Until that morning
Know that you are precious:
a strong Muslim queen
with dignity and pride.

So hold up your head
and don’t fear tomorrow.
Be at peace, sister,
don’t you cry.

– Wael Abdelgawad, 2009

Poem: One God, One Deen, One Love

Hands making duaOne God, One Deen, One Love

One God
one deen
one Earth
one humanity
one struggling Ummah
one family
one woman

for my overflowing heart
and may Allah
guide her to me
no matter how far
with a smile
and a gentle,
gentle touch.

– Wael Abdelgawad

Poem: A Prayer for You (is a Prayer for Me)

Man standing in duaA Prayer for You (is a Prayer for Me)

I pray for you to smile, my queen,
to dream Quran in the night,
wake up and see the light
on the eucalyptus leaves
outside your window, and feel
the current of Allah’s love
turning in you like a water wheel;
because when you smile I am healed,
and so a prayer for you
is a prayer for me too.

When it’s winter in your mind
my heart is chilled and rimed
while my arms yearn to warm you.
When your back is bent and sore
I sense it from distant shores.
When you damn yourself
I have faith in you like a sunrise.
When your eyes well up with tears
mine too are hot as black tea,
so a prayer for you is a prayer for me.

I pray for your chest to rise
with flowered air, your spirit rich
as your chestnut hair. I pray
for you to laugh leafy and long,
your body whole and strong,
sweet as a summer wind,
and your spirit shy but filling in,
raising your head, saying what must
be said. I ask Allah all of this for you,
because I love you, I love you… You see…
a prayer for you is a prayer for me.

– Wael Abdelgawad, March 2010

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