these nights carry within their folds a song

which breaks the heart, and by such, then lives on

the pierce comes soft, the ache, it never ends

once tasted, this, a wound which never mends


stirring on trees, a fragrant symphony

rising on stars, blazing your memory

worlds vanish, now, there’s only you and I

great silence, under tapestry of sky


around us waits, lonely expanse of land

once more a child, you take me by the hand

with trembling steps towards the days of yore

a blood-dimmed tide, a whistling desert shore


as we draw near, my heart begins to pound

my soul knows well the sadness of this ground

something tells me that I’ve been here before

as if a dream, that chills me to my core


a forlorn tent appears, to it you go

holding my breath, your candlelit shadow

your friends and family for you await

the dark, a veil, for dawn’s approaching fate


your voice, a tender breeze, to them you say:

None by me are bound henceforth here to stay;

as a camel, the darkness of this night –

use it to ride away, and spare your life.


hearing your words, knowing what is to come

what scenes will soon follow the battle drums

the spears hunting and bloodthirsty arrows

knowing all this — will any choose to go?


an ocean’s crash, the voices here resound,

We’ll not leave you ’til by death we are found!

We’ll stab with spears and with our swords we’ll strike,

with no weapons, these stones we’ll use to fight!


If we would die and then be brought to life

be burnt, scattered, and then again revived

each time toward our Lord this oath we’d say:

for Hussain we will die, death in Your way…


this loyal band: I watch the scene in awe

How could we ever leave? SubhanAllah!

the moon’s light pales to that of faces bright

who’ll follow their Imam to edge of night


a voice rings out, I know not from which way

distant and near, a thundr’ing whisper says:

know well, child, this land where you arrive

where living die, and dying, come alive


the land of the Ushaaq and Shuhadaa*

whose hearts burned with the glory of Allah

none from before could their station attend

none like them will exist until time’s end


many were they who claimed to love Hussain

yet few were those who bore the burning plains

many whose thoughts wished that he would arrive

yet few whose deeds went racing to his side


easy, the love rooted shallow in words

harder, the blossoming beneath the swords

words without thoughts never to heaven go

and tears without conviction, stay below


for you, the sword is yet a heavy weight

the armor and its duty suffocate

loving the thought of loving your Imam

action, a task, yet slipping through your palms


know well which land it is where you now stand

its code of honor seek to understand

perhaps if you reform through what you feel

in these nights, its secrets will be revealed


learn from this land, the mettle of man’s strength

dust turns here into gold in burning tents

the mind and hand move sep’rate in Kufa

iron and flame, they forge in Karbala


the land of the servants of the Beloved

killed thirsty, drowned in rivers of their blood

having the choice to turn and save their lives—

choosing to stay, the price of Paradise  


battle they faced, on feet they did not run

this mortal body, they had overcome

they charged like spirits swift, Allah! their cry

with wings, like singing doves, toward the sky…

*Lovers and Martyrs