What Would Rumi Do?
By Nahal Jamir

“All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?”
                                              – Rumi, “Who Says Words with My Mouth?”

If Rumi were here with me,
it would be okay to drink
an entire vat of wine,
to think forever about where
I’ve been and where
I am going.

My soul is from elsewhere

We would call JCO and tell her
that was a great title
but not such a great story.

I’m like a bird from another continent

I mean, what was the girl thinking?
Opening the door?
I yell at the story
like it’s a horror movie
where only virgins
my mother

but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?

taught me better than that.
She taught me that it doesn’t matter
if you blame it on the girl
or her mother,
or America,
or anyone at all,
never—and I mean never
open the damn
Stay inside.
Don’t open the door for strange
even strange
boys, who are
as dangerous,
if not more so because
of their cowboy love for
if not more so because
of their cowboy love for the girl/woman,
which is the same as justice,
a woman is the same as justice,
a woman
who needs to pulled close too suddenly with rough hands
and pulled up onto a
horse to
ride (it)
into a sunset
from which she will never escape.

The day is coming when I fly off

If a strange car is following you, drive to the nearest police station.
Walk to your car with a friend.
Hold your car key like a knife, two fingers on either side and a tight grip.
Stay in the light of streetlamps.
Don’t be afraid to scream.
Don’t be afraid to scream.


I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way


But Rumi and I would drink
and think about you,
Mother. We would figure
out where you had been
(Iran? A dream?
Perhaps the Red King’s dream?—)
and where you are going
(Home again? Kansas? Or a strange sort of
desert tavern with all of its dryness
so that all that can happen is
mirage? Dangerous


Whoever brought me here will have to take me home


And we would go there with you.
We’d watch that Western-
turned-horror movie,
and we would go there with you.


Nahal Jamir’s writing has previously been published in journals such as Crab Orchard Review, Los Angeles Review, Meridian and Passages North. Her short fiction collection In the Middle of Many Mountains was published by Press 53 in 2013. She obtained hery Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Florida State University and currently teaches at a private high school in Tallahassee, FL.