Poem of the Day: “Guantanamo” by Shadab Zeest Hashmi

By Shadab Zeest Hashmi/ UniVerse

Editor’s Note:  SDFP contributor Karen Kenyon selected the poem  Betrayals to introduce Ms. Hashmi to readers a few years ago.  The Pakistan born artist has a San Diego connection– she was an artist in residence at SDSU and received the San Diego Book Award for poetry in 2011. Many of  her poems explore the subjects of history and Islam and are described as reflecting an essentially feminist tradition of Pakistani writing in English.


Hour of the Traces by Alberto Giacometta

A guard forces you to urinate on yourself
Another barks out louder than his dog
the names of your sisters
who live in the delicate nest
of a ruby-throated hummingbird
Each will be a skeleton he says

Was there someone who gave you
seven almonds for memory,
a teaspoon of honey every morning?
Cardamom tea before bed?
Someone who starched your shirts
in rice water, then ironed them?
Held your chin
To say the send-off prayer
before school?

You’re tied to a metal coil
And memory
is a burnt wire.

Shadab Zeest Hashmi’s book Baker of Tarifa won the 2011 San Diego Book Award for poetry. Her work has appeared in Poetry International, Vallum, Nimrod, The Bitter Oleander, Journal of Postcolonial Writings, The Cortland Review, South Asian Review, New Millennium Writings, RHINO and other places. She has been nominated for the Pushcart prize twice, and has taught in the MFA program at San Diego State University as a writer-in-residence.


  1. avatar says

    In my mind this is one of the most powerful poems written about the post-911 descent of America into a terrorist state. We need more poets like Shadab Zeest Hashmi who aren’t afraid to confront the criminal acts carried out by our government in the name of National Security. Bravo Shadab!