Creatures of Culture

I like to dream that
I would want to
be a wife.  A creature,
the myth and the truth
of my culture.
I would stand in the
kitchen, and
carry his honour,
my grace
and our children
on my widened hips
and for that,
he would call me his
omram. I would smile
and fill the house
with smoke from oud.
I would move from one
room to another
in long silk dresses,
a country to another.
I would pack love and
my mother’s pickles.
This creature, his name
trailing mine, a gift
to his ancestors,
a loss to mine.
But it would grace me
to be this creature
to be his creature
in his house, to be
worshiped in love,
swollen breasts
and long hair, on his bed.
Goddess of a home, mother
of beautifully raised children
but only a wife
to the world.

– Creatures of Culture by Thamanna Razak

Portrait Series; Mother

I ripen,
in your two palms
held together warmly.
I turn,
fruitful and
Oh how the moon
must envy
for your dirt,
your impure,
your knowledge of
Oh how the universe
must envy
for your mastery
to hold someone else’s
roots in your soil,
until they grow
beyond the darkness,
until gravity has learned
to let go
what it loves.
I rise
above the ground
and meet my sun
and my sky
but I will always
come back
to your two palms
held together warmly
to lay my body
back in your dirt.

– Portrait Series; Mother by Thamanna Razak

The World Waits on Your Beauty

My heart,
it endures pain like slow
burning ember,
a purgatory for
every man who
had the misfortune
to have seen
your glow
behind that veil
and desired for you.
At a seaside, families
wait for dusk, grow old
in its waiting
and lull into the sand.
At another end of
the sea , a boy
waits for the dawn
and his mother to
come back
and he never grows up.
At an end of a
water tap, a woman
waits for the next drop
of water. Her whole
life, she only knows
of thirst.
And I, wait lifetimes
consumed in sorrow
like no other to
find a language that
transcends this unbearable
spread of time. I, turn
into a poet
in hopes
to touch your thoughts
on the evening you fix
your tangles. I want
my sigh to be the
reason for your
blushed cheeks.
But Rabb, in his
selfish longing to
keep your heart
and beauty alive
have stretched
the string of time
and suffering.
Oh my love, how the
entire world stands still
and suffers
for your beauty.– The World Waits on Your Beauty (*based on Aah Ko Chahiye by Mirza Ghalib and sung by Jagjit Singh) by Thamanna Razak

*I would prefer if you could enjoy the music before/after/while reading the poem to really understand where the poem comes from. This is my father’s favourite song. I have had this song/ poetry as my backdrop music almost all roadtrips or drives and on early mornings on Fridays my entire life. The image of a woman untangling her hair unaware of the love and desire men hold for her is what this song brings to me. And I think I’m only trying to find my own narration for the image, in my own personal ways of knowing love and desire. And most importantly I am trying to tell a story of longing. I only hope I have done justice.


I Never Shut The Door Behind & My Father is Upset

I keep making mistakes.

I keep finding men like my father to love

and then to unlove

and then tiptoe my way out
of homes I built out of their bodies
of framed pictures of them sleeping
of an afternoon when they would
point and tell me
“there, that bathroom floor,

 there, the space behind the door,

 there, this entire room with broken glass

 stay, look at all the space I made for you,

 all the love I have for you”

And I would stand there measuring the distance

between my feet and the door

But I don’t get it right, I never get it right

I was five when he said ‘to the moon and back ,love’,

since then it doesn’t add up

how does then love feel so small

inside my heart, every heart beat echoes

the buzzing that comes with emptiness

my soul confuses it with butterflies

I lose my math, my concept of light years

I would stand there measuring the distance

between my feet and the door

measuring the distance between

what’s real, and what’s not

and I don’t understand

who the fuck are we

to measure love in distance

who the fuck are we

never teaching our children

to walk over to the door

to leave

to shut the door behind.

Thamanna Razak , I Never Shut The Door Behind & My Father is Upset

Lovers in Mosul

The revolution came,
the rulers ran and
came back with tanks.
people changed
they grew different
and then indifferent
to blood
to love but I,
only remember
the war in the
reflection I saw
of myself in a
bloody water bowl
as I dressed your wounds
and then you count
the number of our
dead men on the streets
and I kiss your lips
for it to stop
and you say
habibti, your love
isn’t going to stop
the war, and I say
but what if it did.

-Lovers in Mosul by Thamanna Razak

Holy Friday

On a Friday morning,
with another takbir,
he places his palms
on the ground,
and his forehead
before his God, and
his only prayers are
for you, woman.
And after, he walks
across from the masjid
onto the market street.
under the sultry sun, hot
and seducing, watermelon
of the streets lay, raw
open and glistening
and all his thirsty cravings
are only for you, woman.
He holds a pot of Kohl
and the older man
at the other end
wants to warn
him, women like her
are waiting for you

in your homes , stirring 
milk drinks for you, 
leaving traces for 
you to kiss
on their tender lips
but sinful their hips
 are, hell
their full
breasts are.
He walks home
with a pot of Kohl
and all his sweat beads
are in a prayer
for yours, woman.
In his kitchen, you are
brewing chamomile
In his home, you are
bathing in oils,
steaming your locks
in rose water
and you wait for him
in all your beauty slipped
into a long silk dress.
On a Friday morning,
with another takbir
he comes home to you,
pulls your seeds and nectar
apart, licks it off your neck
with the salt of your sweat
and his only thoughts
are holy holy holy.”

– Holy Fridays by Thamanna Razak


Portrait Series; Balcony Boy

In a small sunny balcony
is the wet shadow of me
on a pale green cloth.
Outline of my body
in a deep shade of moss
and on the other side
is you , darling
you watch me
pinning another wet cloth
on to the washline
and you want me
to make you a home
even if you are a shadow
even if home is cold and damp
you say, make me a home.
I want a mother and a lover
and I want your sweet,
swollen with water hands
I want the sweet scent of
soap, and salt of your sweat
I want you, of all.
you are my 
cool wet cloth 
on a hot 
summer afternoon.
– Portrait Series; Balcony Boy by Thamanna Razak