Click and it will re-orient itself properly! This is beautifully done! Brava, Mercy!


I was happy when those green birds

flew shining into my garden.


I thought it meant that Allah had smiled

and fate would be kind.

But the grindstone turned.


For my son, the struggle was all. I did not know

the meaning of his great determination

to be al shaheed al hayy, “the living martyr.”


The small birds clung to the line

for nearly an hour


before they hurled themselves to the sky

in a great shrill.


Now I can think only of the gore

of innocents on a shredded shirt

I’d washed the night before,

the blood on his Quran left on a bench nearby.


I was ashamed when asked

to claim him as my child.


You ask me

am I happy my son has joined the martyrs?

Do I rejoice to be the mother of a hero?


Who cares of heroes or martyrs

I have lost my son.


May those whom he murdered forgive me.


Inshallah, we will not meet again,

no, not even in Paradise.


But had I known of his plans

I would have taken a blade, sliced open my heart

and crammed him deep inside.


I would have seamed it tight to seal him in.

I would have never let him go.


Copyright Pamela Spiro Wagner 2017


  1. Pam, six dollars a book is a reasonable price for an author to pay. Chipmunka forced me to charge a whopping $25 to the public for paperbacks (8.95 for the ebook that most people–some rudely–told me they didn’t want to pay) and I ended up paying their so-called “author discount” of $18 per paperback. The contract didn’t allow me to share the ebook, which was a reasonable request. It took me years to finally admit to myself that I had been scammed. By scammed I mean they failed to honor the contract. I am so thankful I terminated with them.

  2. I think there is a process for your local library…If you go to your local library you can request them to carry the book. Usually a donation is not the way to do it.

    I would be happy to send you a signed book. I have to pay 6 dollars for each copy so if you would not mind reimbursing me at least for my costs and postage that would be helpful, but not essential if you have no cash. Send me your address by email. Love,


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