Down at the Deep End $15

This may be a secret among only a few of its recipients, but cancer is a direct and positive gift from God. Its chemo and radiation therapies wrack and ruin us… and its alternative therapies may bewilder us with the arcane and often whacky character of their methods… I chose the traditional medical program of three chemo and thirty-five radiation sessions, begun immediately after diagnosis of my cancer, and I praise Allah for the doctors who treated me with their medicine chest of tough love.
(Poems and drawings written and executed during cancer treatment during the summer of 2012.)

Poem Selection from Down at the Deep End

His Most Precious Concern


(salla ‘llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is assumed after the mention of his blessed name)

The Prophet Muhammad sits by the
bedside of the sick

Stands in our doorways to
shield us from the light

Strolls with us through our
dark woods

Is there in the clouds when we
fly in the air

and meets us when we
land at our differing destinations

Each one of us at once
his most precious concern

Messenger of God
not for a moment leaving us


Feel his breath as he
bends over us

complete and deep assured

His full attention on the
condition of our souls

to pluck us from every
purgatorial indifference

peace and blessings of
Allah be upon him

greater than the sum
of each of our allotted breaths

and his Companions and Family
to the Next World

most true

6/28/12 (from Down at the Deep End)

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All Our Attempts at Healing


“There’s a cure for everything but death”

— Hadith of the Prophet (salla ‘llahu alayhi wa sallam)

All our attempts at
healing are to elude the long

loving arms of death coming
around us

The doorway filling with a sulfurous
light or beneficent radiance

elongating its rays into our hearts
into this little living blip between

two eternities

and somehow from this perspective
all the hustle and bustle of

earth life and its being taken so
seriously becomes

symphonic but strange

We all rush to our appointments
but dread God’s decreed one

on a Venetian canal under moonlight’s
eerie glow and slosh of brackish water

or standing at ease in our usual
nonchalance with

nothing particular to do or think or

The mortal bubble we’re
in and that’s in us just such an

evanescence that we naturally
hold back from hearing pop

Our song should twirl around it
the most magnificent of roses

the simplest and most
heartfelt of songs

And may God give me the strength to
believe all this if the

corridor of my own cure becomes
too narrow to

fit down

and only the ocean of love alone
remains left

to wash me clean

6/30/12 (from Down at the Deep End)

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