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Bänoo Zan

Letter to God


You cannot be going East this morning

meeting sunrise with a green rag—


cannot be this late

would have to be already above the plain

your machete making love to light


You’d have to have droned your way

into headlines


You cannot have been Charlie

would have to be yourself

no safety in protest of millions


You cannot be any but me

fearing that speech is not free

and that life is a good price


In this drama

I find myself playing you—

the mask, chorus and spectators


I find myself finding myself

your messenger of light with dark skin

inviting siblings of sapphire

to the meeting of Moses with the Mount



You could not have slept last night

your eyes rubies robbed of gold


You could not have been listening

to the news

or, could you?


After all, you are everywhere

even on the throne you abdicated


You cannot be going West this morning


would have to have stepped

between the sun and the moon

stretched your arms to both sides

and reconciled beauties


You’d have to have looked human

assumed gender, age and race

You’d have to have fallen from yourself

down among us

and glad I am you haven’t


Let blood flow where it should

in the veins, to the heart and back


Pick another colour

to paint your palette


With all checkpoints

and suicide searches

with your wrong ID


you cannot be going home

this morning



Allah-u Jamil va Yoheb-o Jamal[1]


Love me


as you have—


since you knew



before tears

after joy


Love me

as I am—


your verse

your witness

your lover


Seven times

on this scene



circle my Ka’abah

with bare feet


Let your blood

be my pilgrim


Lose me

in yourself


Find me

in me


Let your book

sing my sins


Draw your life

around my death


Let your prayer

flood my waves


where fate

is free


and rebellion

is religion


Be with me


Be me




[1] Allah is beautiful and loves beauty, hadith attributed to the prophet Mohammad


Poet, translator, teacher, editor and poetry organizer Bänoo Zan has been writing poetry since the age of ten and has published more than 80 poems, translations, biographies, and articles. Two books of her poetry are due to be released in 2015 and 2016. She is the founder, and an organizer and host of Shab-e She’r (Poetry Night), the most diverse of its kind in Toronto. For more than two years, Shab-e She’r has been bridging the gap between diverse poetry communities, bringing together people from different ethnicities, nationalities, ages, disabilities, religions (or lack thereof), genders, sexual orientations, poetic styles, voices and visions.

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