2 Poems from Ramadan Sonnets


It’s like practicing for death. No food or drink
during daylight hours no matter
what, in the
heat of summer or
cold of winter,
and no way out of it but through

sickness, pregnancy, menstruation, madness or travel.

So that
it’s something that comes
inevitably each year, like it or not, whether or not
you’ve got a knack for it, and
some do, and love to fast, and
thrive on it, but
I do not, yet

each year it makes its visit, and year after
year it builds up to be a
sweet thing,

which makes it like death, the way it’s
always on the
horizon, and an
absolute obligation, which must be

why Muslims often die well. They’ve had a
lifetime of Ramadans tenderizing them
for The Inevitable. And The

Inevitable surely comes.

1 Ramadan


Headache, the invalid feeling of being sickly and having to
take it easy, testiness when
things don’t go quite
right, annoyance of magnetic
gravity, things
fall in a pile or
slide off an incline – not the

hunger alone that binds us in brotherhood ultimately with
hollow-eyed Ethiopians of
this and all other eras,
but the frailty, the passing alone down the
alien corridors of this world that is such a
poignant reminder to us, so that in our
momentary physiological grayness

when the food finally comes showering at the
end of the fast and turns all things back to
Technicolor again, and we feel
the old soft-shoe lightness in our step again and the
old brightness in our smile,

the cornucopia dome of the sky turned
earthward again, the arid stretch
suddenly fertile, fruits and
flowers as if by
cinematic magic fill our
perceptions, the
floodgate of generosity opened to the
full, then our

body-bound, sense-imprisoned
selves expand past identity with one
hollow-pitted stomach dusty in the
hot rays of a pitiless sun
to a non-entity whose single characteristic is

gratitude and whose
every pulse is animated by the

Single Provider of all this
and every life’s


2 Ramadan

5/9/86 (from Ramadan Sonnets)


Categories: Poems, Ramadan / 'Eid