From the Archive: Sunday Rumpus Poetry: Three Poems by Fatimah Asghar


This was originally published at The Rumpus on December 4, 2016. During the month of June 2022, we’re highlighting some of our favorite work from The Rumpus archives to show readers how the magazine has provided a space for great writing throughout our 13 years. If you appreciate the work we do, please consider becoming a Rumpus Member during this month’s 1st ever Member Drive.


Game Of Thrones 

If this is how I get my family back
then let me have it. My land of water
-fall & mountains before the parking
lot full of dead corpses. Put me back

in a time where I could fight.
When fighting was more than poring
over books, trying to teach myself
the ghost of my mother’s tongue

from youtube videos. If we’re talking
about dreams then let me be honest.
I call for my family each night
in this borrowed tongue, in this language

not mine but which I wield daily.
Where is my blood-memory? Why
can’t my stone eggs hatch once touched?
Am I not my own kind of magic?

Let me speak Saraiki without being taught.
Bring me to a time when I could touch steel
& wilt a man’s flesh for coming after my home.
When I could touch the hem of my daadi

ama’s lengha as she looked out of the window
& whispered, the blades are coming.
Allah, bring the blades. Bring the men
swinging them. Bring the acid. Bring

the old gods & the new, the dragons
& the white walkers. Bring me a thousand
winters & a thousand summers. Bring me
what some prophecy or horoscope or wayward

fortune teller promised me. Bring something
more than just the stories of who’ve left us
& the ghosts who tell them.


Look, I’m Not Good At Eating Chicken.

& yes, my family did raise me right. Yes,
they cleaned their bones & cracked them clean
open to suck. Would fight over cartilage & knuckle.
Sip the marrow’s nectar from urn. Yes, I watched.
Yes, I’ll teach my children to do the same. To savor
the sound of their teeth against bone pulling & pulling
always in search of more. I know I’m gonna be poor
for the rest of my life. But right now I’m alone.
In a strange city with money in my pocket
& no friends. No home to go back to, no children
waiting to be fed or taught. Meat on the bones
skin in the trash. Joints a trap of bird & muscle
waiting to be chewed. Let me be young & disrespectful.
Let me leave my plate an unfinished slaughter.
Let me spend & eat until I, & no one else, says I’m done.


Fatima Asghar is a nationally touring poet, photographer and performer. While on a Fulbright studying theater in post-violent contexts she created a Spoken Word Poetry group, REFLEKS, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in POETRY Magazine, BuzzFeed Reader, PEN Poetry Series, Academy of American Poets, The Margins, and Gulf Coast. She is a Kundiman Fellow and a member of the Dark Noise Collective. Her chapbook "After" was released on Yes Yes Books fall of 2015. More from this author →