Nasser Alsinan

ghazal for family ties

I sit in the corridor, cross-legged like a cinnamon tree. My mama
aims finger guns at me and I drop my sword. I’m sorry, mama,

I didn’t know this was a gunfight. As in, past tense, as in,
do dolls wear snakes for boots? Do they call their mamas 

at dusk? When the growth of cinnamon takes twenty years,
do they wait? There is a flamingo in our garden, mama,

but it doesn’t fly. When you shot me, I understood that it was tea
time and I poured you an istikana. When the kitchen burned, mama,

I slept cradled in your arms. When I call you to tell you my hairline’s
receding, what I really mean to say, mama, is that I love you, and I’m

going to get the flamingo haircut. Like an origami stick figure captured
in a polaroid—all edges, easily breakable. Mama, I will grow my wings 

when I am a very old man. I will use them like trays, carry tangerines
and saffron and your eyes, emeralds white as daisies, mama, emeralds

that melt like sugar in rivers of milk, mama. Hold my hand. Mold it into
a gun. Take the bullets out and replace them with balls of cotton, mama.

This is the only name I have, mama—baba said it’s time I grow, and if god
wills it, I will. I’m going to shoot the flamingo. Tonight, it’s going to fly.


Nasser Alsinan is from Qatif, Saudi Arabia. His poetry has been published in journals such as ANMLY, The Shore, and The Dawn Review. He is the recipient of the Bain-Swiggett and Polymnia poetry awards from Purdue University. More of his writings can be found on his Twitter page @nasser_alsinan.