Not Accidental, Not a Fiction

Don’t tell me that I don’t know.
Don’t tell me that I have no knowledge.
Who I am is not an opinion up for debate
and the story I tell about myself is not
a fiction written by lust—
that is, of less value
than your straight narrations.

You tell me a truer story
is asking God to guide me
on the heterosexual path—
that straight path
God has given to you at birth.


Maybe your words condemn me,
but mine do not
and God alone is Just
so don’t deify yourself
and pretend that you know
who goes to heaven and hell,
because maybe the reason that
the English and Arabic words for the Afterlife:
Heaven and Hell,
Jannah and Jahannam
sound similar,
existing in the same phonetic space of our mouths,
is God’s subtle way of telling us to be careful with our judgments,
to speak carefully, delicately,
because judgments are as human as the languages that
we use to give them.


Don’t you dare claim that
you are a better amateur human than me.
Don’t you dare say that
my eyes are blinded by lust
when my eyes have always
been open to receive light,
because Allah knows
the blindness and sight
we speak about here
has nothing to do with our eyes.
Don’t tell me that I’m lost
when we’re all searching.
Don’t tell me that I’m ignorant
when we’re all learning.
We all know and have the potential
to know ourselves deeply.
What I have learned about myself
is not an opinion
and it is not up for debate.


We are all flipping through
the pages of our bodies,
reading our DNA,
the letters in our story books,
and we all take pen to paper
and write in the margins,
inscribing our lives
with word and deed.


Don’t tell me I am haram
when none of us are haram,
when all of us have always been
more than some scholar’s
arithmetic of prohibition that
tells us what parts of ourselves are
forbidden and allowed,
required and optional,
liked and disliked.


We are more than
the binaries you create.
There are notes they play
back in the old country
that the West calls accidentals
but my ear and my fingers
know exactly where
they fall between
the white and black keys.


Put me in a binary world
but we’re all painted in rainbows
and there is no way
that God is as boring
as you say God is
when She has created
something as magnificent
as the Grand Canyon,
and created and breathed into existence
something as beautiful and nuanced
as a human body and soul.


Sometimes I tell the nuance of my story.
Sometimes I do not.
I don’t always read my book aloud.
When my dad visits
I am careful to fold up my prayer rug
and hide it in the closet
because I don’t want to have
that conversation again.
And I might not always
hold my partner’s hand in public
but I know that story in my bones
and the heart in my body
recognizes its lover.


Some days I might edit
the story I read out loud.
Some days I let you call
aspects of myself accidental.
But when I tell you my autobiography,
don’t you dare call it a fiction.


The above poem I wrote on a road trip in the company of one of my best friends on our way to the amazingly loving, affirming, and sacred space of the LGBT Muslim Retreat in Philadelphia at the end of May 2015. I performed it at the talent show along with other far more talented fellow queer Muslims. The Retreat is held annually every year in May.


About Garrett Kiriakos-Fugate

grad student in Islamic studies, student of architecture, queer, radical moose+lamb, language nerd, folk dancer, musician, lover of books and writing
This entry was posted in poetry, queer + Islam and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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