T I M A J . G A R A D
Writer . Performer . Arts Educator


the wars my body warns me of

I put my bones on again today

Zipped up my brown skin

Stepped in my stomach

And laced up my nerves

My body is telling me what home feels like:

A (war)drobe

A construction site

Putting myself back together

To come undone at sunset

Holding on to my breath for sunrise

See some rise with fear launched into lungs

Wondering where war will come from next

A timebomb launch in held breath

Wearing skin like this, touching forehead to earth like this

Touching heart to a world like this

Before it breaks

Heartbreaks as soundtrack to skin like this, to verse like this,

To touching head to earth this this, to holding head for cover under head covers,

To holding heart for answers under headlines

wondering what lies will they use to cover the truth (this time)

To saying their names, pronouncing each syllable,

until even the letters need to put themselves together

To try to spell justice out of words like Khaled, Abdelkarim,

Azzeddine, Aboubaker, Ibrahima, Mamadou

(Allah yarhamwho)

When cycles of the sun tell me darkness is only waiting for light to re-emerge

before is searches to be empty of it again

My body prepares to hide and return to itself, inward it yearns for itself

In a world that hold up mirrors that don’t reflect it

My body turns itself inside out to warn me, wires an alarm system in my mind

Fires at synapses and relapses every time I see the news

Contracts into a new self because it has no choice but to resume holding me in it

No choice but to be home here

And from this earthquake of bones I put on

This raging current of held breath

This churning stomach I step in to cradle back to calm

From the space between firing synapses and my laced up nerves

This zipped up brown skin hung on tissue so I can wipe tears through…

This voice drowning in names upon names

that sounds like my ancestors taking residence in my throat

And feel like my ancestors shouting prayers through time and space

A body hanging on by it’s internal (war)drobe

as I play, work, write, love through potential warzones

Through this falling apart, this anatomic panic,

I’m reminded by my renegade heart

That we exist in ways this world can never take away

That being reduced to body, to flesh, is not the real death.

The real death is to evacuate spirit through destruction of others,

setting the world on fire,

hoping that something will burn stronger than your own suffering

Hoping you can turn a sacred place to a shrine of your suffering

to have something to believe in

But only turning it to a place to grieve in

Walls pierced with pieces of war to find peace in

(and this system was not built for us so I don’t pretend)

Instead I’m reminded by my renegade heart

That this perpetual falling and coming back together

In my body, in my community

Is love protesting for itself in the wake of hate

A terrifying reminder that this home makes strangers out of us,

even in our own bodies,

but we were created to be greater, and the Creator loves the strangers

So when I tilt close to where my body ends,

with prayers sinking in my mouth as they’re coming out

I pray that every doubt dies in knowing this place was not built for permanence

…we build our wings here.

Timaj Garad