After Jan Beatty
By Fatimah Asghar

its three hours after you said you would call & I am stranded in a pizza shop waiting like the home wrecker I am, trying to remember what color train runs from cambridge to dorchester & it’s the night of her birthday & I’m waiting for her to leave so I can come over & have the shit fucked out of me & I told my friend I’m staying at a ‘high school friend’s house’ & it was the only way he’d leave me alone at the pizza shop & I didn’t tell him I’m actually going to dorchester at 10pm to get fucked by a man twice my age he hates & he’s already spent an hour talking about the young girls you fuck & how they say no & how you go for it anyway & I’m tight & my head is an anchor & I can’t help but agree & I’m alone in the pizza shop & about to call this quits when you text me & then I’m a kitten again & I’m on the train, purring & heat & in an hour I walk into what’s left of a party you offer me cake celebrating her & wine, which I take & drink until my body is humming & in no time its midnight thirty & you’re worried you can’t keep your hands off me so you kick all your guests out the house & then its my body in your bed & my jeans are off with one hand & you are already in my mouth & my legs are crossed & I am looking at all your veins & you’ve flipped me on my stomach now & your breath is alive on my neck & in my ear & you bite my shoulder & your teeth drag into my back & my legs uncross & I’m so wet its embarrassing & my shirt is off & its all skin & pounding & vein & my friend’s words in the pizza store are a machine gun in my head & I’m thinking about the other young girls you fuck & if they’ve said no & your hand is ripping open my thigh but I do not stop you b/c I want this & sex with you should be painful & you ask you ok? & I moan & this means yes & you ask do you want me to stop & I say no & press your hands harder to my throat b/c I don’t want to think & my mind is always running & people think this is beautiful but it’s a nightmare, really & I just need to turn my head off & your hands are all the way around my throat & your dick is all the way inside me & there is no air anymore & for a second all the thoughts are gone & this is the closest I am to cumming & my body is open & please & please & please & please & please
          & you let go too early & all the thoughts are back & I think of how you can’t be owned & the young girls who may or may not have said no & I’m tight again & dry & I am an anchor & there is so much rot in my body & you keep fucking me but I’ve already left & as far as I’m concerned, my clothes are already on & I’m more with the lamp than with you & you are close & your nails are in my shoulder & you have me pinned down & I can’t move & I’m thankful b/c I don’t know what I would do if I could & my body is just an echo now but you don’t realize b/c you weren’t paying attention anyway & I don’t hate you but I think I should & I don’t feel anything & you are moaning in my ear & I am thinking of the poems I will read tomorrow b/c they save me & of how I wish your room was better decorated & you say you love me & pull out & cum across my stomach but everything is desert & anchor & I start laughing & you smile at me because you think its for you & it never will be & you might never know that & isn’t that just hilarious.

For Jonylah Watkins, Who Was Shot 5 Times While Her Father Was Changing Her Diaper
By Fatimah Asghar


When the bullets came,
gentle as a tickle

Her eyes, half the size
of her face, a wide open moon.

The surprised ‘o’ of her barely
lips, soft as an eggshell.

Then, the smallest of sound:
a maybe hiccup of her still

new laugh.


A baby is broken today, spilled
over the sides of her father’s car
like a runny yolk. Chicago, opens

its mouth to catch the blood, then closes
it: snap. Silence. A baby is broken
today and there is a funeral to be had.

My students, all the ones I love, are at school.
Or in their father’s cars, or walking
on a sidewalk. My nephew, not yet born,
sleeps quietly in my sister’s stomach.

Today the world is more full of babies
than usual. I see them everywhere.
In strollers, in coffee shops- their toes,
the size of my nail bits, curling and uncurling.

Their fat dimpled fists. I watch their fathers
place a broad hand on their pudgy backs
laughing over scones. They lift their babies,
these tiny kings and queens, high into

the air and smell the cotton.

By Fatimah Asghar

Lover. I am not ashamed of the red
drip budding between my thighs.

Nor am I amused when you call it war
paint. Every woman dreams

of being a red-clad girl, dreams
it spread tight around our breasts.

We all look a wonder with it smeared
across our lips. Do we not?

Lover. I am not afraid of the colors
my body dreams to produce. Rather

I stop you, because you’ll taste metal
and think me machine and wires.

You’ll feel tin in my bones and think
you are making love to a copper woman.

I stop you because you’ll push and take
and take all because you’ll have forgotten

just how soft blood can be.

An Ode To Granny Panties
by Fatimah Asghar

Because sometimes you need a little sag
          in the butt, loose ends to waddle in.

Because you don’t need lace & sheer & fitted
          to feel beautiful, or alive.

Because sometimes sexy is in the way
          you roll down fabric three times over

& it balloons around your waist, shows up
          to say hello through the thick

of your dress or over the top of your jeans.
          Because sometimes you need a bucket

of loose underwear for the days everything
          else is too tight—

the world, your heart, the boys with their eyes
          /hands/ on you. Because today your fabric

comes up to mid belly & the elastic is so worn
          you bobby pinned it together

& this is your last gate, barbed wire, line of defense
          & the motherfuckers will still stare,

hungry, as always.

Ode To The Brazillian Wax
By Fatimah Asghar

Praise be to the pool in your panties.
The way you can barely walk down
the street, how you have to press
your knees together to keep the secret.

Praise be to the way wetness gathers.
How it makes volcano of your flesh.
Praise be to the sweet, holy smell of you,
the smoking gun of your musket.

Everything is lighter fluid leaking gas,
afraid you will not survive the combustion
until you find a McDonalds and kick
the janitor cleaning toilets out

the only available stall and your body
is heat, pulse, alive,
                          already waiting.

Fatimah Asghar is a nationally touring poet and performer who is almost always in-between two places. Her literary work hovers between prose and poetry, examining fact through a lyrical lens. Her work has appeared in Drunken Boat, Word Riot, Muzzle Magazine, DecomP, Fringe and many others. In 2011 she created Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first Spoken Word Poetry group, REFLEKS, while on a Fulbright studying theater in post-genocidal countries. Last year she was a Multicultural Fellow at the Steppenwolf Theater, where she worked in the Literary department. She is the co-founder of The Glass City Project, a Chicago-based arts organization that combines poetry, theory, and activism. She currently serves as an Associate Artist for the Redmoon Theater in Chicago, and is helping to produce the Great Chicago Fire Festival.