Poetry : Hymns of Karbala

Hymns of Karbala

Hymns of Karbala

Listen to the author recite Hymns of Karbala :

Hymns of Karbala

The 1990s were the years of El Niño,
the Golden Age of hip-hop,
the Gilded Age of commerce.
The Roaring Nineties
brought opulence,
and freshly minted robber barons
on the information superhighway.

The landscape awash with ideas,
brimming with innovation,
the nation
prospered in the 1990s,
the years of El Niño.

The pitter-patter percussion
of raindrops
on corrugated rooftops
lulled me to sleep.
Saturated in dreams,
my mind
spilled at its banks,
thanks to the bountiful
dressed as precipitation.

Mountaintops glistened
like emeralds green,
vibrant troves
popping and alive,
rain dancing
in abundance
and bliss.

But listen to the
mountains today,
and you’ll hear the hymns
of Karbala.

Drenched with thirst
and hunger,
the mountains are parched,
yet awakened
from slumber.

it’s brown thatches and chaffs,
as rainfall graphs
drop precipitously,
and the Golden State
dulls to sleep
in a Dust Bowl haze.

ice is born
in arid deserts
the waters of time
like days in a sandglass,
reflection pools
leaving molasses quicksand.

The murky cauldron
of seething despotism
and gurgling whisperings
fool us
through vented tar sands.

I clasp my hands in kunut
raised to the cosmos.

A caravan of 72,
of me and you,
of babies, women, and men,
of brethren and sistren,
of family and kin,
traverse galaxies,
irrigating soils with
prayers and red tears.

We are thirsty for Justice,
hungry for freedom
from the frigid ice.

Ice is born
in frostbitten hearts
on hills of capitals,
politricks rap
with stick-up kids
where tyrants
rearrange maps
for profit gain.

Yes, this is
where ice
is born.

But we melt this ice,
on everyday,
in every land,
and geysers gush
on Ashura
for our thirst
and hunger
in this caravan
to You.


Imrul Mazid is an educator residing in Oakland, California. He worked in youth development in New York City, where he earned his Master’s from Teachers College, Columbia University. Imrul’s favorite number is 14.