SISTERHOOD by Scherezade Siobhan

Scherezade Siobhan is an Indo-Rroma social scientist, community catalyst and hack scribbler of two poetry collections: Bone, Tongue (Thought Catalog Books, 2015) and Father, Husband (Salopress, 2016); and one poetry pamphlet, to dhikr, i (Pyramid Editions, Forthcoming in 2017). She is the creator and curator of The Mira Project, a global, cross-cultural dialogue which uses expressive art and storytelling to dismantle gendered violence and street harassment. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Feministing, Berfrois, Rattle, DIAGRAM, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Word Riot among other digital and print publications, anthologies, exhibitions, art galleries and sometimes even in the bios of okcupid users. She is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee for writing, the winner of Berfrois Poetry Prize for 2016-17 and can be found squeeing about militant bunnies at or @zaharaesque on twitter/fb.


He watched himself shatter – a boy poured out like light whispering through the open
  mouth of a keyhole, a cold stone against the mosque’s rose window, a scatter of
  metallic salts. Damascus raveled in layers of oxblood silk.

The song’s bombed silhouette – a boat. a body. a border.

In a house abbreviated by twilight, loosened threads of nightshade spasm and
  curve into a shadow theater of ghosts. The first bird unsettles the wet bamboo of
  lawn chairs like a pint-sized spaceship – its wings still sunlit with a trodden

Outside, the rooftops had wintered in a dream-blur of casablanca lilies; the
  muezzin’s baritone cutting through coughs of low clouds.

I carry on me the hips of harappan urns, perigee moons dug out from the chest
  of a sleeping Indus. A neck as tenuous as a terracotta figurine. This tongue’s
  blessed votive. This stamped cunt of vermilion clay.

All my mongrel organs – wet & muzzled.

Under the oilcloth of cassia flowers, our women shell pistachios, blade the gingerroot,
  crush betel nuts with a blunt laughter.

Our bodies are as wanted as fake passports in a shoreless country. Our bodies are
  as hated as a boatful of foreign names.

They promise to hook you up by the question mark of your own rib. Promise you the
  sinking continents of waterlogged lungs; a new city afloat in your own blood’s
  unflagging, tidal panic.

They hose rifle butts with mustard oil. They continue to promise you the horror of

In the desert, girls gnawed the map like wolves suckling on buffalo bones.

The last soldier asked a one-eyed tea seller: why do boys here blow up like a
battalion of old bottle rockets?

Last night they were scraping for a trail of tendons, bone fragments shuffled like
  cowrie shells before the vultures ascended for alms.

In a dream, I can revise my bruise as a body full of sleep & and quiet certainties.

I believe it is easier to break when you have never hoped to be whole.


Tantra me a beast. So golden in my fuckability.
Shamed into a river, I am the occupation
of God. Wet sand, wafered cinnamon – apples &
razors in the wake of new hounds. The heat on my
tongue is a spice the sun spat out. Cleopatra’s asp
rosaried for the rroma in my roots. My eyes di
-amond the blackest jinx. Blacker than a skull boat
tattooed with its own dog-collared kindling. Look
at me: my splayed melusine of babystealer blue.
I am bodied from such shameless cosmology –
You couldn’t tell whether it was a seashell or
a quicksand that oh-so-softly swallowed you.

The Library in Nalanda

Who can fish back the cassiopoeia of those silver
keys from the buried ossuary of our mouths?

I wolfed him down like I were cloning the canvas of Goya.
Indigo-cloves-saharan graveyards. Dusk of dark tarot.

The night so full of subtle defeats, its headless quiet
tonguing my knee. I wanted to unname him – vino blanco,

ropeburn, chopped heads of easter lilies.
I havocked his temples. He cindered my courtyards.

This is where the lune of ribs in their malleable heat
bell against each other like a snakebit windchime.

This is where we buried our fathers like lambs in brine. This
is the beginning of alone; a blindfolded child in a burning house.

Death Valley – V

The day I left, your hands floated away like kite wings. The moon broke over
Devil’s golfcourse in a prolonged lysis, mirroring the private eclipse of our
chemistry. I felt the rainwater puddle within the smallest chasms in my
consciousness. Earlier, I had studied the crackling science of air trapped into salt,
whole of the earth broken up in the tiniest pencil-points of a child’s chewed up
rage . This is you, I confessed to the giddy faces of panamint daisies expanding
their once-in-20-years empire of superbloom behind the Needle’s arch. The dried
up riverbed opened like a cut lip; red with its dowry of secrets, green with the
deathless trauma. My body was still slanging its zero-sum game with a medicated
routine. At the top of the butte, you were no larger than a housefly, a flitting
murmur before silence slapped loss back into the landscape. I am gifted with
pessimism. I always predict the wrong things right. That night, us, sleeping in the
back of your car like two whales knotted into one shrimp-sized fishing net, I woke
up twice to see the stars giggling above us as if a playground full of kids before
they learn words like divorce or type ii diabetes. With your heartbeat in my hand,
I knew I would have to start learning a new language to welcome something
equally brutal taking shape to balance the accident of this: an unspoken
beautiful, a bridge between for me to but not mine.

A poem for trying to teach my name to the white dude in Washington who mistakenly thinks it is SAND (        )

trigger, i / al maslakh / that is arabic / for a slaughterhouse /  i, amaurotic /
ship of theseus / i, puissant / achilles tenderfoot /  i guzzle moonlight / like
battery acid /  skin an aubade of sand / sung in a scarab tour de force / i, corpse
collector / from the bracken hinterland /  i place eyelids like wicks / half lit / so
when i whisk / a slant / you say : wicked as Hecate / my holy mess is your
medicine / you try but cannot / dirty epithet me / six failed rounds / to  russian
roulette me / i, 9mm submachine gun you / i, RDX by an unfixed ton you /  coz’
as per you / when we say arms / in my soldiered slang / we mean boom boom,
CLANG! / brother, my streets stutter / in cartridge  operas. / love letters
penned / in rifle strophes /  icebox bodies bridge the gap / between catalysts / &
catastrophes /  i, girl gravity / bombed / i, sun’s final animal / live embalmed / i,
no tutored ropetrick / no balancing act / i feint symmetry / as a matter of fact /
you knife me amateur / oh, you bare knuckled / hoof-wrath? / then i – seductive
quicksand / a nuclear hazmat


Brown girl missing: in any country is a collateral damage
Brown girl missing: in cop was not on duty/was on duty
Brown girl missing: in the streets are sculpted from teeth
Brown girl missing: in why did you let her out, Ma?
Brown girl missing: in blood like lighter fluid
Brown girl missing: in look inside the stomach of a sea
Brown girl missing: in jonah hollowing out the whale
Brown girl missing: in barcodes tagged on a bloodied neck
Brown girl missing: in the cupped hand of gunny bags
Brown girl missing: in a prison shaped like a prayer
Brown girl missing: 16 is not a child
Brown girl missing: in arsoned for dowry
Brown girl missing: in ciudad juarez, chicago, palestine, kolkata
Brown girl missing: in the ventriloquism of cold steel fingering her spine
Brown girl missing: in the metaled kiss of warm bullets
Brown girl missing: in this insurance doesn’t cover mental health
Brown girl missing: in breath as a blowtorch
Brown girl missing: in a designer bride’s suicide
Brown girl missing: in first world, filth world
Brown girl missing: in English as a second language
Brown girl missing: in You look more beige than brown!
Brown girl missing: in mirrors, mothers, muerte 

Brown girl missing: in trying. tired. torn.
Brown girl missing: