god bless

By: Samiya Rasheed

Varuna pulled forth the world the heavens the stars
With a roll of his tongue he wrenched time in her place
A word on his lips and the floods would recede
From sludge he said let there be more

He said let my light pierce through a thousand pillars and a thousand windows
Let me rule all that is and all that will be
Let gods bow their heads to me from the seas and storms
Let there be worship wherever I travel

And let there be people below to long for my love
Let them grovel and fight and pray to a scale they cannot grasp with such hands
Let them build temples in my name
Let them live – under me in this new world

He did not say let them be saved;
We have never let our creators save us.
Creators cannot be kind, I think. To have created us. Sister-brother-father-mothers.

We write off myths and pantheons of old
They cannot possibly be true
But I wonder where when why
we created the kindness of gods.

– In his arms are two slumbering children, strange and sweet with dewy eyes and delicate limbs. It is odd, their make. Carved of clay molded over pale stone bones, they are fragile in a way nothing yet is. But All will be and All will cease, and fatherhood always seems preferable.
“Not of fire?”
The pause holds in absolute silence. Old stars twirl in a muted horizon like forgotten tops, eternities away. They’re suspended in an ever-growing, ever-colder universe, bright but empty. He runs an inky grasp through their fledgling hairs. When He speaks, it resounds.
“The world is warm enough. There is light. Now there will be earth to yet grow.”
“They will be our brothers, like those before.”
It hangs, whistling through the heavens above.
“Not that.”

I. the end began without care
ruin in a people once just
blame greed blame heresy
the ramparts are crumbled minarets buried
inhale divinity but all that’s left to choke on is ash
prayers drifting – grasping to an answer absent

they have run rampant, gone amok a messenger says, cold true infallible
there is a new order, this world was never to keep he says burning a crimson power
under smoke, under a halo of brilliant glaring light that could not be echoed

i am sorry, what else can be said
there is no counter
no saving grace besides the one before them
your people are not sorry the messenger gazes back it is not enough

it is understood
the scythe will hang heavy in the messenger’s hands
he will not tarry
he cannot
he is not the All Merciful

II. The jinn have seventy-two kings and the news must be trumpeted to all of them. They are of fire, like angels, but it is not the same vivid flame. They are His subjects before His army. Surety is afforded to them by the whistling, creeping, shifting, singing, shrieking words of their brethren.
(Angels do not need surety. The knowledge is dug deep along their cores and into their veins. What they know is true. Without argument. Without protest. Without concern.)
Each king knows, nods. Accepts what they cannot contest. There’s defeat traced into the curves of their wrists, in their arteries and paths. Is it a mark of turning times or did He keep it there, foretold?
Their people –
(Pray for the souls that came before, before your supreme oceans, before your brittle grasses.)
Their prayers were not taken.

III. the apocalypse arrives – on the spines of beggars on children’s lips
help us they plead
and so will be His answer when the jinn begin to wail

oh dear Allah, what have we done?
swallowing locusts, tearing under their eyelids to find
cockroaches digging under capillaries there’s not enough room
not enough room to keep them all and they are false flames under 

His trial by fire

plague fell like a fine snow on the land of smokeless fire
the halls of revelry fell silently to the sad heft of their bodies
oh Allah please save us
each man his own pyre each woman crematorium
the children starry eyed and guiltless
stained glass tragedies
tell me which martyrs are willing to be so
for it is not these

IV. The angels are readied, draped in truths sharp and lethal and heavy like irons. There is no call for sympathy, sympathy for a people so like them, for they are only given directions for what is right, and the jinn have fallen.
They are not the first.
Curving on their tongues tightening along their flaring windpipes are the invocations, orisons, begging benedictions. Iblis is what crawls from their raw red guts. Shaytan jinn is what peels from their neighbors brows, wary even in a world like this. Wary because of.
There is not much farther fall, and there is a new order.
(do you not worry? angels do not whisper in the face of omnipotence if He may do this to our brethren do you not worry for those that come next? do you not worry for yourself ? do you not worry he was right? we do not govern the afterlife beyond, but how do beings of fire fare in Hell?
eyes trace the other, wings paring peeling seams holding what was not meant to fly. worry for yourself. not i.
and then he is alone under the endless sky
lies are cloying and they do not tell them
but his wings neither can hold the heavy sword)
The angels are readied.

V. the line between unholy and divine bright
is called blindness
that from so far above
was never meant to be looked upon with mortal eyes
the angels are silent stars called near
the angels are warriors
a crimson stain unfurls over the world
(Babylon to Durban will stand on copper silt soil now)

oh Allah why? an angel weeps
halo crumbled into
loam and snow
beside earthbound soles
and what was left of –
as it comes

VI. The end is swift. Jinn had little when all the heavens were opened against them. So, so many breathed their last, exhaling the smoke they’d kept, painting the sky listless black. So many died at their own hands, but the right to die is called sin, so the less said.
So many died, and fell, and met the crossroad of their own embers and brimstone.
So many, but not all.

VII. it begins in a garden
and onward down
– Humans are –
The world is strange now, all spectrums and colors and so cold, chock full of bursting flora and sanguine fauna, and there is still fire, at the center of it, but bedrock lays heavy. A land made new; verdant imitation of Paradise built atop the blushing ruby sands of before. But familiarity is still found, threads tracing back the uncountable millennia the angels bore between. Found in the slopes of marble thrones and the sharpness of tin bus stops and the glass spires reaching ever heavenward. The seasons have changed to suit, but the heart of it, the primordial mistake, the—
Humans are inconceivable.
The angels know. Even as they fall – the great magnificent view, a star burning in orbit – they know. Cold, hard, true. The jinn knew. Continue, strewn as they are, to know. Angels were not so distant from them once.
The humans know nothing but doubt. Left with His word (cold hard true) heralded by prophets miracle tragedy history, they don’t believe. It seems as though they began where the last age was condemned, worshipping beguiling idols and falling to the greed leaking from their pores. Erecting reverent marvels to themselves in cities lasting horizons, forming tides all their own. They are simply so like what came before.
And yet.
Maybe the angels are simply not ready to fight once more. Ranks withering wings gone, so many are so near human now: fire to ash to sandstone skeletons. And they grew close to, endeared. Caught on the cross wire of soldier and protector. The humans may barely pray, do not believe, but in their clay hearts is an inherent softness, kindness. To give and grow better even among the convoluted mayhem they bury themselves in. Something revelatory in abnegation without the belief that He is watching, tallying, judging.
Then the angels fell for the inanities. Perched on power lines and parapets, they saw asinine holidays wrapped in streamers and warmth, and flower arrangements so precise and with meanings picked for each petal. River ships, small and wooden over brown deltas passing flooded rice fields. The gummy smiles of infants and toddlers with mud puddles and the saccharine sweet of hard candy; and humans are not like them. Fitting dearly as His children where those before could not. Protected so dearly despite –
(There are still jinn. Not many. Scarce in these lengthy miles. They are not all real anymore, meandering between what is and isn’t. A half life, veil pulled between. There’s a miracle in their existence. There’s another in – how do you still pray? asks a fallen seraph, hat pulled low and silhouette too small – having fallen from His favor and the sky in one – how can you? I cannot.
this is what saved me. so i pray the jinn responds. Leaves.
is that what saved means? the angel-no-more ponders skipping stones, imagining a world without touch.)
The humans are still here, but snow sometimes appears like ash, and the angels are bowstrings drawn, bracing for a holy war. A cataclysm for Judgment day for All will be and All will cease. These times cannot stretch to eternity and this world was never to keep. The skies grow heavy and mankind are already blotting out their own stars. How long, How long.
Angels, fallen flying fair – or trying to be, call mercy, mercy. Not once more, not once more.
(But All Merciful is not their title to hold. They are not their own.)
The responding silence – it hangs, whistling through the heavens above.
And onwards down.