cold & alone

people don’t pay me any more notice than a speck of dust floating past their face

i’m just a fly, that they swat away

just another dog in the street

a cat rummaging through their garbage

another face in the crowd

a face with no name


the invisible man:

visible, in fact, but unworthy of notice

people be on the internet all day- facebook, email, chat-  but not for me

they busy wit’ somebody

but that somebody ain’t me

guess i’m nobody

no, i am somebody

just somebody

never anybody


thank you for saying that

really, i ‘preciate it

it’s nice of you

but we all know it ain’t true


oh, do they?

who?  ain’t nobody called my phone

i’m sure they re-charge their pre-paid or pay a monthly bill, so that means they call somebody

so you’re tellin’ me people don’t call people they love?

who do they call, then?  niggas they don’t care about?


when’d that start?

or is it only just for me?

guess I am special


yeah, well, i guess that’s true

but this isn’t about what i’ve done

it’s about who i am


i’m not depressed;  i’m real

you should be, too

don’t send an email back

don’t call or text me now

really, it would only make it more true

just… be you, who you are right now

keep doin’ what you’re doin’

you’re obviously better off without me

and i don’t mind

i’m fine

i’m honest;  it’s good to be


i’m not suicidal

don’t be dramatic

this isn’t TV

i love life, and my little family’s learning to love it alone


you know, i used to wanna be famous

but not now

i’m gonna do my best to not get famous, just to make sure niggas don’t start contactin’ me

it wouldn’t mean anything then if it wasn’t happening now

and it isn’t


no, don’t worry about me

i ain’t bitter or mad

it’s all good




i’m gonna go now

to sit in my room

on the hard floor with the lights off


cold & alone

the shift. shifting.

the shift. shifting.

she came in on the bus
i was sittin in back of
lookin tired
tired like she been tired
like she woulda bent
but somehow it got so hard
she just broke
broke so many times
she wasn’t never connectin again

we wasn’t just fightin over land man
we was fightin for
our language
our GOD
our wisdom
the way we made love
for who our kids was gonna be
our legacy

she was
every slave’s daughter
the mother of a nation
the river of tears’ source
a sorceress
the scar of every lash
an ember of beauty
a sigh
that never surfaced

of course we walk around wit’ a chip on our shoulder:
talk a language that aint ours
then git judged on how we speak
we so lost
we don’t even know who to fight:
gon’ shoot each other
but then run from police
we stuck where don’t nobody want us
cuz our home
aint home no more

Lady in Red

Lady in Red


met her on a wavy summer street

way-back-when, what did she done for me?

dried my dreams, lady in red


Lady in Red

now my lie’ll never be the same

never go back and i’ll never change

trained, untamed, lady in red


Lady in Red

her heels punctured holes into my heart

unzipped her purse & tore my life apart

smiles and scars, lady in red


Lady in Red,

friday night dinner she ate of me

burned me past any numbered degree:

HIV, lady in red


Read more in purified pages


Use coupon code OCTGROUND305 at checkout, select Ground Shipping and receive the shipping free. Maximum savings with this promotion is $50. Print and tax amounts are excluded. You can only use the code once per account, and you can’t use this coupon in combination with other coupon codes. This great offer ends on October 20, 2011 at 11:59 PM so try not to procrastinate!

purified pages is an invitation to see the world from the perspective of one who has been on an extraordinary journey of the soul. collectively, these poems are an image of TRANSFORMATION, but the consistent message is one of LOVE and REDEMPTION. with a unique style born of a mind in which widely DISPARATE influences mingle, al-Qãhırıï has created poems that are at once deeply personal and highly RELEVANT. from the aesthetic and DECEPTIVE simplicity of the earlier poems, to the tight rhythms and CAUSTIC slang of the epic “jahiliyyah,” to later poems like the SCINTILLATING “i, mujahid” and the beautiful, IRONICAL “tetrameron,” his work sings with a uniquely talented voice that the world needs desperately to hear.

“Real. This is not the work of someone philosophizing and theorizing within the cozy, sterile surroundings of academia. al-Qahirii has lived life with his shoes dirty and perhaps barefoot at times. I would recommend anyone to read, learn and live.”

manic depression

manic depression


i feel lucky

the only misfortune to ever befall me

was to have been born in the first place

& if there was one after that

it was to have lived in this insignificant age


maybe my misfortune was meeting you

it’s not that i don’t love you:

you’re a blessing and i do

but if we’d never been friends

could i have betrayed

or misguided or misspoke

so many things i shouldn’t say?

because of you i have regret-

and i feel worse when you forgive-


it’s too late now, but i wish

that i’d never ever lived



if i’d never lived

i could never go to hell

or fear

or hate my self

there’d be no way i could fail

don’t worry;  i’m not gonna kill my self


i’m much too vain for that

i have honor

i want revenge

i’m here:  no turning back

new age fashion nitemare

new-age fashion nitemare


murder matinée

air raid, starcrash

we’ll tune it out for our favorite TV smash


some sign says “lies ahead”

our speed will not tire

our engines run on fierce-lit funeral pyres


silence in the sea

castles of sand

we give our lives to hold them in our hands

By taj-akoben Posted in poetry

the withering Whether


in the Mourning

no Thing dared to be seen

saw you sighing in silent Scenes, bring

Stills to Life


when It was What It isn’t

the Mist in the Midst wasn’t mystic

It seemed set aside


in the Dawn

when there only was Time

what i saw you with wasn’t Light

when Wind took my Eyes

to you


in the Fall

in the Winter

when Whether, It threatens to wither, the

Chill grows inside



© al-Qãhırıï

windows without walls (my improbably journey to Islam & a lot of other places, part III)

There was nothing but me. No one had been more free than I had. I
took that to mean that I was the one to blame for the troubles in my
life. It also meant that nothing could stop me. I let everything go,
literally thrown everything away, knowing that everything and everyone
that had ever really been there would come back.

To make a long story short, I took a vow of celibacy (which no one
took seriously) and went back home, the prodigal son. One sharp look
from my mom said all that needed to be said about my dredlocks and a
lot of other things. My first order of business was to get back into
school. Imagine telling people that you dropped out of your third
year in the Ivy League to be a player.

I got re-accepted- they were no match for my characteristic
hard-headedness- and ran into an old friend from the basketball court.
My suitemates and I were having a monthly party called “Last Friday”
at the end of every month, very low key for me, so I invited him.

“I don’t drink, I don’t dance, I don’t listen to music. I’m a
Muslim,” he smiled, and then I saw it.

He had changed.

Gone was the tight-lipped bravado and swagger of one of the nation’s
best high school ballers. In place of his usual cool was an
uncharacteristic constant smile and a beard. His whole face had
changed. And his clothes too. His pants were tucked into his

At that moment I knew: this is it. I’ve been trying to change, a
believer without a way, and he’s changed. Whatever he believed was
the truth.

I wasn’t ready to cancel the party just yet, but I asked him to tell me more.

“And if you are in doubt about that which we have sent to our servant,
Then bring a single chapter of its equal and likeness,
and call forward your witnesses (to its making) besides Allah,
if you are indeed truthful.
And if you have not done (this)-
and you will never do (it)-
then be wary of the fire whose fuel is men and stone,
prepared for the rejecters (of truth and right).
And give glad tidings to those who affirm (truth and right) and work
righteousness that theirs are gardens (of paradise), underneath
which flow rivers…”
-Qur-an 2.23-5

I couldn’t believe it. I had to believe it. No one could say that.
I had read hundreds of books- autobiographies, encyclopedias,
textbooks of every subject, histories, diaries, fiction, poetry,
political manifestos, fables and folklore- and no one had ever made
such a claim, of infallibility, of supreme confidence, of ultimate
challenge. Even the most widely-accepted scientific knowledge was
mostly considered theory. Every textbook was in its umpteenth
edition; why? Because mistakes or updated knowledge had been
discovered since the last edition. No one- not Einstein, not Michael
Jordan, not Criss Angel, no one- had ever claimed to have done
something which could be neither surpassed nor approached, even in its
details. No one, of course, who had not been subsequently made a fool
of, if they were not already known to be a fool, and summarily erased
from history.

No this, this shocked me. Only God could say that, I thought. If
this book was indeed of a miraculous nature, then it was the greatest
miracle of all time. Why? Why would a book be greater than Ram’s
stringing of Shiva’s bow, or Moses’ parting of the Red Sea, or Jesus’
revival of the dead Lazarus? It was greater because, again, if it was
indeed a miracle, if there ever was a miracle, this was the only one
left standing.

No one claims to have Shiva’s bow, and even so, long deceased are the
witnesses of its stringing. The Red Sea- and I have been to its coast
and talked to someone as he sailed across it- is definitely back to
normal. And Lazarus has since died again. But the Qur-an, if there
is any miracle about it, is still standing, and the one in my office
is no different that the thousand year-old copy in Uzbekistan, or even
the oldest hand-written original. Anyone who can read Arabic can
verify that.

So is it a miracle? It welcomes your doubts as it still does mine.
Read this example:

“He has set free the two seas meeting together
Between them is a barrier which they do not transgress?
-Qur-an 55.19-20

Still not convinced? Check out the introduction to King Leopold’s
Ghost, a book about the Congo by Adam Hochshild. It describes how
this river pushes out into the sea for a great distance without its
freshwater mixing with the Atlantic. It is said that Jacques Cousteau
was the first to photograph this barrier phenomenon, which I’ve yet to
verify. At any rate, it is a known scientific phenomenon, and
research is even being done to use freshwater barriers to prevent
saltwater seepage.

If Muhammad, may Allah Bless him and Grant him peace, had invented the
Qur-an, how could he have known this? He was illiterate. Even if he
was educated, this knowledge was not available at the time. Supposing
he made it up and happened to guess right, for one, he would have had
to guess right for all the other scientific discoveries the Qur-an
preceded, which is impossible if not unlikely. Further, what value
would such a claim have had at the time? Because it was irrelevant
and unverifiable, and not altogether fantastic, it would have done
nothing to convince people towards Islam.

I did my research, and decided that that this verse, and the many
others like it, was a sign left by Allah not for the early Muslims,
but for all the generations that would follow them. As every copy of
the Qur-an is identical to the original scrolls, they are proof of a
wisdom that could only have come from above. They are a taste test
that everyone can individually scrutinize individually and openly.
They are miracles. Just as such verses were unobservable but
ultimately proven true, so, the Qur-an argues, is the case with its
claims of resurrection, recompense and reward and much else.

But there was something else, too, something besides all the eloquent
logic I was starting to read in translation. Something inside me. I
felt like I was finding something I’d already found, something I’d
known inside me like the vague, disparate recollections of a dream.
The signs I was reading were confirming and explaining signs I’d been
seeing in my self for years, great and small. Years earlier, without
knowing why, I’d resolutely given up eating pork. When I was in
Australia, I once fasted from morning to night for one month. I just
felt that it was right, that I needed it for strength and discipline.
I had stopped shaving because I found it unnatural. Also when I was
in Australia, I woke up everyday at sunrise and prayed, then washed. I
had begun to see it as an obligation to give, and in New York, let me
tell ya, there are plenty of people to give to. And why, I asked
looking back to my childhood, did my brother and I have a habit of
prostrating on our foreheads before we went to sleep? Maybe you can
imagine how many times my heart stopped, or how many times my eyes
still burst in tears at finding out that what was in me was true

As an intellectual, I’d made the world my classroom, and people and
places had become my books. I was a scribe of the spoken word, with a
library that catalogued thoughts and lives. That’s not to say that I
wasn’t well-read. I was, and perhaps extraordinarily so. In time my
interests turned toward religion. I don’t think I was looking for
something to believe. I just found it all interesting. Soon, and I
presented this theory at Sydney University, I surmised that all
religions were variants of some original, and differed on grounds of
culture based on the parts of the world they were in. After all,
language limits and allows the concepts its speakers are allowed to
think in, so it seemed natural to assume that the same religion would
vary on the surface across cultures. Some form of prayer or
meditation, asceticism, and other elements seemed to universal to be
independent. As such, I postulated that God must have spoken to
somebody somewhere, and that, those words and none other, were exactly
what I wanted to read. So I decided to study Hebrew and Sanskrit,
because those were the oldest languages I knew about, to find and
decipher just what God had said. I guess I was looking for something
to believe in.

Arabic is not the oldest language, but it does contain the oldest book
which is universally held to be untainted. Moreover, and this excited
me about my theory, Islam seemed to contain all those universal
elements of religion, in a unified, congruent system. It has the
asceticism of Buddhism without going to the extreme of monasticism.
There is the rhythmic profundity of the Vedas with no contradiction or
The all-embracing love of Christianity is honed with discipline, while the
moral guidance of the Torah is found without descending into formalism.
The social code is as comprehensive as Confucianism, and the
unifying theory of nature resonates with the principles of Daoism and
many other natural/mystic belief systems. It even deals masterfully with
the skepticism and rightful demand for the right to inquiry of atheism,
agnosticism and modern science.

I have suffered, admittedly at my own hands, for so long. It took me
years of searching to even realize I was searching. And now I
realized that I didn’t have to find my own way, that I had something
to which I could bring my doubts, and that I had been right, in some
way, all along. The Straight Path stretched before me. I took my
first step one night by declaring that there was no deity but Allah
and that Muhammad was his Messenger.

So what happened, right? Did my parents kick me out of the house?

Well, I wasn’t living at home at the time, for one. And knowing my
wiles and caprice, no one probably took it seriously at first. But
from surrendering to Allah, I started to affirm his truth, with the
hopes of one day perfecting my self and practice. I think that has
kept me, elevating my struggles to strivings and tempering my
successes with humility. I’m a better grandson, son, nephew, brother
and cousin than I was before, and I think my ties with my family are
stronger because of Islam, even though we differ about it. To be
sure, I lost a few friendships, but some of them were very surface and
false anyway, so I don’t miss what I never had. Anyway, who’s to say
we wouldn’t have fallen out of touch anyway, as much as I move around.
Due in large part to Facebook, I have to admit, many, many of my
friendships are graciously intact.

I still travel, still love nature. I spent a year teaching in the
lost valley that borders Mexico. There was a beautiful bird sanctuary
with a crocodile there, close to the Gulf of Mexico. I traveled to
Pakistan and got married, and saw the beautiful hills of Murree at the
foothills of the Himalayas with my wife. My Spanish came in handy in
Mexico City and Monterrey, where I met the bravest and most innocent
people I can remember. After a year in Oman, where my daughter was
born, I was relieved to see the rain and lush green of northern
Thailand last summer. And I’ve still got miles to go before I sleep.

I’m as aware of wrongdoing Muslims as anybody, but Islam is not
constituted by the Muslims. It’s a framework. One looks through it,
and acts within it. I do not feel that it limits my vision or walk.
Rather it frees from the debilitating, inhibiting effects of the
faults that we all have, the false lures of life, the limitations of
ignorance, and the misguidance of satan. It is a window without
walls, through which I invite you all to look and transcend.

And peace be upon whoever follows guidance…
-Qur-an 20.47