Reciting Surah al Fajr at San Francisco International Airport

I have endured the temptation

for wealth beyond my means

to escape the humiliation

a political campaign punchline

the butt of a joke

as shredded wood clippings

stuffed into the sewn vinyl

of a hanging heavy bag—

The Qur’an has a doctrine

to examine the suffrage of others

measure the calamities

in comparison to mine

Messages of revolt

finger painted slogans of justice

ending in an assembly line cycle

of mediocre motor parts—

We depend on leaders

the way one of our elders

weaves a keffiyeh

around their scorched skin

basked in the smell

of threaded cotton

guarding from the gust stricken

granules of sand—

I think of hardship

in simple terms

falling back asleep

to recreate a good dream

forcing images

of ripe fig trees and olives

submerged somewhere

in our effigy of alienation—

I must lower my voice

and not grasp the different

colored strands of my beard

stroked with foreign musk

because I am from

this place of refuge

this place of bold bodies

that shames me for being


Surah al Fajr: Titled “The Dawn,” Chapter 89 of the Qur’an

keffiyeh: a traditional Middle Eastern headdress fashioned from a square scarf, usually made of cotton



Tamer Said Mostafa is an-always proud Stockton, California native whose work has appeared in over twenty various journals and magazines such as Confrontation, Monday Night Lit, and Mobius: The Journal of Social Change among others. As an Arab-American Muslim, he reflects on life through spirituality, an evolving commitment to social justice, and the music of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.

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