Men do not cry in front of womenfolk,

But men will cry behind that silver film

Of tears. The walls and echoes comfort them.

When Fathers die, All men and women cry.

MOHAMMED died. The Master said, “To God

We All Belong! To Him We Shall Return.”

Mohammed died. The people said, “Such grief

is not appropriate,” but He replied,

“For whom is Grief, if not for such a man?”

O Sons of Yousef and Khachab, O Sons

And Daughters of ASSAF, The Patriarch!

We weep with you. We hang our heads and bow,

And lean our flags, and raise the mourning cries.

We mourn in exile. Reda is Our saint.

But can you hear us out there, O Kuwait,

Past Appalachia, past New England Coast,

Past seas and oceans, rivers, pyramids,

Past salty gulf and sandy wilderness?

But who will tell That Patient Matriarch

That she should be expecting company?

Her eldest son is visiting

So soon?

O Abdul Basit, Chant away our Pain,

And we shall sit and study carpet swirls,

And shuffle shoes, and mumble seven more,

And seven more for what we loved and lost,

And what abides.

Goodbye, Mohammed, Uncle, Father, Kind

and Handsome, Funny, Gentle, Fearsome, Fierce.

The FATHER takes his Son, O Lebanon.

al-Fātiha, Chehour. And you, Kuwait,

What diamond is buried in your rough!

Declare His Name, O You Who Speak Of Men!

Assaf was here, ASSAF and all his tribe!

Goodbye, the smell of sand and Marlboro Red,

Goodbye, the hospitality, the wit,

Falafel and shawarma sandwiches,

A book of dreams, and sunset by the sea.

A stop at al-Shanākel just for me.

Before my father, it was you and me.

O Yousef, what is Uncle? What is Home?

In Memory of Mohammed Yousef Assaf



MOHAMMED died…a man? The Analects 11.9-10. To Allah…Return The Qur’an 2:156. Yousef Assaf, my maternal grandfather. Khachab the maiden name of my maternal grandmother. Reda Ali ibn Musa al-Ridha (766-818 CE), the eighth Imam of Twelver Shia Muslims. Past Appalachia…wilderness? “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d, 16,” by Walt Whitman. Abdul Basit Abdul Samad (1927-88), a Qāri (reciter) of the Holy Qur’an. seven more (verses) of The Qur’an 1:1-7. And what abides “Though much is taken, much abides…” “Ulysses,” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Chehour a village in Lebanon. Marlboro Red cigarettes. al-Shanākel a toy store in Kuwait. 

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