Poem: Ode to the Overbearing Brown Girl

Editor’s note: This is an ode to all the overbearing brown girls who have been told that they were too much. You are enough. 

a femme Muslim , survivor and storyteller.


you, sharp-tongued, mouth full of worms

steel-faced, not-interested-in-you

overbearing brown girl.  


they say “no sleeps between your teeth

waking to feed on sheep with long tongues

5 a.m. kalleh pacheh.


you come for them before the mourning

they’ll never wake early enough to eat

you’re cruel like that.


they tell me you’re the end of every poem we never finished

a gaping mouth, hungry

a single word with teeth.


an ellipsis without a following

they hate how you always leave them



you rise to the stench of rotting bodies that live inside their mouths

open wide

you climb inside them.


wander their hallways

chew their gums, bloody

open doors, open cabinets  





where do you keep them?

the women that came before

the women that never came at all.


twenty-two, I remember you

skin dipped in gol-ab, brown burning red

azoon in the streets of Esfahan.


i found you inside masjid-e shah

your lips pressed against his right ear, whispering I never wanted you

stand here, khaleh says, it will echo twelve times.  


because once is never enough.