Poor Claudia published poetry, prose and conversations online and in print from 2009 to 2018.

Khadijah Queen

Any Other Name

    Any Other Name

    Khadijah means wife of the prophet.
    Nothing about my name
    is casual. Your mouth has to
    make an effort. You have to commit
    to all eight letters, all three syllables,
    no nickname. It means something

    Uber drivers, the Muslim ones,
    all men, want to tell me about
    even after I say yes when they ask
    do I know. They want to know
    how old I am and where I'm from
    they want to get in my business

    where is my husband. Some men
    can't stop telling me who I am or what
    exactly is so incredible about me or
    what they had to take or offer
    without asking. They still say

    it's my fault I am beautiful. I was raised
    as a Muslim. In the name of Allah
    Most Gracious Most Merciful shouldn't I
    thank God for the kind of beauty
    that makes me so desirable an object

    so in demand by strangers
    you might say my name cursed me
    to solitude. I don't see any prophets around,
    do you? If so, pass out my number
    tell him I said what's up

    where have you been all my life. I know it's a line
    but people like familiar things
    like fellow boring straight people hey
    I'll be 44 in a few years and I have a tradition
    to live up to a prophecy perhaps. Chop chop.

    I cut off my hair because I wanted to
    begin again with something on my body
    no man has touched. I wanted to press
    rewind. I still want the kind of purity that cures
    men of acculturated entitlement. I want a little
    silence when I walk down the street or get into the back
    seat of a hired car in any city I travel to. Maybe

    I have to marry myself. Maybe I am my own prophet.
    I want to stop reacting and keep creating
    and to do that maybe I need a new kind of hijab
    that makes me safer unseen, free of both

    sound and adornment. I could use that
    kind of safety. Sartre said hell is
    other people and by the token of time through the ages,
    surely a French philosopher knows
    whether man equals less than desire and surely

    man is in loss, except those who do good
    works, and enjoin one another to the truth, and enjoin
    one another to patience and constancy. My mother told me
    I should keep some things to myself.
    She should have said keep yourself to yourself

    but it was in her nature to be generous.
    I learned that kind of giving
    leads to further taking and it's a light that attracts
    parasites. What's an ex-Muslim girl to do

    keep praying. The world of prophets is elite.
    They don't just let anyone in, lol not wives
    and sometimes I want to cut myself out
    of all possible institutional pictures. Sometimes I am in
    a collage I made myself and I have
    a new name. I have a name
    I have given myself and I'm the only one who knows
    what it means. But that doesn't make sense
    Bismillah ar-rahman ar-rahim

    like the first time I was taken from myself
    my father asked me what I learned
    and that is what I learned. I learned I had no father
    but I could walk in the rain and let my hair rise up
    in the night become a black halo aaameeeeeeeeeeen
    curling closer to my head as if to love it, softly

    greeting as if saying peace be unto me. A man
    can break you with your own love if you don't
    remember who you are among the nonbelievers.
    All praises due to the part of me that listens to herself
    first. The first time I drew a rose I couldn't stop

    layering in new petals. My small right hand
    filled the flimsy newsprint with red Crayola
    spirals, the lines unbroken, the endless making
    as sweet as being out of the order
    other people like to think you are born to.

    Khadijah Queen

    Khadijah Queen is the author of four books, most recently Fearful Beloved (Argos Books 2015). In 2015, The Relationship theater company staged her verse play, Non-Sequitur, in NYC as part of the Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Performance Writers, with publication by Litmus Press. Individual poems appear in Brooklyn Magazine, Tin House, Fence, jubilat, Best American Nonrequired Reading, Powder: Writing by Women in the Ranks from Vietnam to Iraq, and widely in other journals and anthologies. Her fifth book, I'm So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On, will be published by YesYes Books in spring 2017.