What is ALLAH? 

I’ll tell you:

I don’t know.

But late at night, in laserlight, ALLAH

Is closer, like a footprint in the snow.


I am well-versed in all the punishments

Of those “who frequent bars and discotheques.”

I know what’s right, and though the thought of hell 

Fills me with fright, I cannot change the fact 

That that is when I see ALLAH: 

At night.


The Ministers forbid “the discotheque” 

Explicitly. It is حرام , they say.

But Lord, “the discotheque” is how I pray.

When Horace casts a beam of light, I say:

. اهدنا الصراط المستقيم  

But hey, 

What could be straighter than a laserlight?


I’m looking for a place in Paradise.

The temples are forbidden, and the schools

Just lie to us. The kings are dead. 

The books are full of void and ancient 


Give me sleep.

Give me something cold.

A silent sound,

A pinstripe in a cloud,

A tombstone or a brick

Atop a mound,

Or underneath an ant hill in the ground.

Until then, let me go

And let me dance.


يس والقرآن الحكيم

Is with us on the Mound in Paradise.

Horace, Ramses, Ro the Sorceress, 

A Sam-I-am, a Brad, an Angela,

A brother from the bus stop — Lion Man —

The field of dreams — Ahlām — her sister, and

The thousand nights — Layāli. That’s her name. 

Tima didn’t make this one. She and 

The Fire Man are off in other spheres

Assorting constellations in the sky. 

We’ll fill them in sometime. 

For now, we dance.


I dance because I miss duā Kumayl,

Because I miss salātul Layl, because

I never knew my sisters, so I go

And meet them there beneath the laserlight.

I dance because when Abdul Basit chants

The tremors of my constellations, I

Could always cry. But now, however hard

I try, I can’t.

And so, I go at night

And stand and watch the laserlight, where I 

Can cry and feel that much less scared to die.


To die.

Let me tell you something, sis:

When Jay and I can’t cry, we come to this.

We come and dance. And I can scream, and I

Can wear the streams and colors of the sky.

And I can try, and I can dare to live

A moment’s freedom once before I die.

Before I die


Remember Dan?


I’ll tell it to my sister, if I can:

I saw you once in storybooks. They called

You APHRODITE, Goddess of the Sun.

There you are in a birthday suit, and here

Are seven hundred years between us now.

One moment here, and now we’re back again,

And now, we play again, 

As if it’s Ramadan, 

As if the Eid is now.

There were two of you, and there was Dan

and Sarah. Jacob was the only “one.”

But Dan

Or Jaffer


We called him both.

There were days

Time moves fast.

Last I heard before I saw you last,

You used to live near Kroger — or it used

To be a Kroger. After school sometimes

we’d all come over sometimes late at night

on holidays especially and oh

your brother he was married for a while

we used to play with him he’d take us out

because he was the oldest by the way

what happened to your sister whered she go

i still remember all that stuff and oh

the mosque on Joy well that one moved to Ford

the one on Schaefer used to be on Warren

the one on Greenfield’s different but my dad

he goes sometimes how is your father yeah

i saw him when we went to bury dan

or jaffer


these faces man i know

these faces they are so familiar

I call you Sister.

“Say Salam.” We used

to say “Salam.” My God. That’s crazy. And

your brother Jay he sees me there i say

to him the others couldn’t make it so

he holds me in his arms and tells me oh

my brother brother brother brother oh

i turn to you i say were family

were family we spent the holidays

together then another time i saw

your brother i was visiting the shop

in Ypsi and he took me in the back

and showed me where he kept the sign a sign

from California from the other store

he went alone and brought it back with him

and here it is the Sign I saw The Sign

I Saw The Sign! It Hangs Upon The Wall!

That’s What’s Left of


And what is left

Of Dagher and Hammoud

Maria man and Hass and Moe and

Kassem and Zeidan

A broken Sign is all that’s left

Of Man

We used to play on holidays

with Dan.

He’s not my brother,

But I knew him, though.

Been like a decade, 

But I knew him, though.

And man,

That Jaffer—


He was so 


I can’t explain it, but I’m going to try:

It’s not so much that all of us must die,

But rather, how unfairly time goes by.


And now we’re dancing at the Paradise.

I meet a man who wants to know my name.

He says he’s 35 like seven times:

“I’m 35 years old.”

I say, that’s fine.

I buy his beer. He’s here and I know why:

Cuz beer is better in the laserlight.

I meet a girl named Lisa too. She is

The girl I knew from elementary school.

Come to find

Her name is Lisa, but

She’s not the LISA I’ve been searching for.

Talk about coincidence. 

She smiles.

She radiates beneath the laserlight.


I’ll see you, Precious, at The Paradise.

I’ll spot you in a corner, 

Make you smile,

Make you sing— 

Let go. Let down your hair

And go. 

Come here, baby,

Let’s be square.

Let’s go away together in the stars,

Cuz everything is ordinary there,

And one is free to orbit one is free

To love a stranger one is free to dance,

To shake away the thousand natural shocks 

Of broken love 


lies and parenthood.

I hold you and we watch the laserlight.


I am why love happens.

Those who say 

That God is found amid the light of day

Perhaps have never spent the night away,

Alone beyond the light.

But late at night

When Heaven wakes and Earth is out of sight,

When one can be oneself without a fight,

Then Horace spells it out in LASERLIGHT:

 الله نور السماوات والارض


I ask again: 

What’s GOD? 

I think I know.

When life says “go,” you must say “yes” or “no.” 

ALLAH is all those yeses in a row.

Composed at Tangent Gallery’s

Paradise Detroit | Ft Gene Farris & DEEPFAKE

Friday, August 26, 2022

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