Bamyan, Afghanistan – 2001

yes I am saying it              my heart a scuffed idol           stones soiling my blood    yes    it is pathological yes                I keep photographs facedown       in 2001 they broke Buddha       they had their reasons they say the UN came         wanting to protect Buddha       but Buddha is    has been    dead    the children are    have been    will be    hungry and they were angry             yes they were angry         they said no they said        we will make you look at the children behind            stone

yes    maybe    this was an excuse yes    maybe it was    still is    true no    I don’t know            neither do you

if it casts a shadow           call it icon if it looks back             call it God yes       I relish myself       in silver in still water             yes that myth he drowned                just a myth we are past that          and anyway my poems               have no faces

yes I am saying it             my hair once hidden       now yours to see yes    it is pathological    none of us born by choice         the angel said read    but you heard look    heard image             fine             look at his skin         bleached holy    oh light man       tell me         are you not a shrine       to those who failed you        oh painted face       did I?

come         I want you to hear this from me                        a secret

the Buddhas were faceless         yes they were deanimated         to begin with            yes, choose another reason             a different excuse

one more secret         when you see my hair           you take my sins thank you        come       let’s have a parking dispute            let’s talk culture         no        let’s talk kin let’s never forget                     no this is who we are

Sarah Ghazal Ali

Sarah Ghazal Ali is a Pakistani-American poet with roots in California. She is currently an MFA candidate and Juniper Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she also teaches composition. Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from homonym, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Waxwing, Wildness, and others. Find her at