Cup Poem 1

What kind of spring is this,
Where there are no flowers and
The air is filled with a miserable smell?

— Shaik Abdurraheem Muslim Dost

Religious scholar, poet and, essayist Shaik Abdurraheem Muslim Dost spent three years in Guantánamo prison with his brother, Ustad Badruzzaman Badr. While in prison, Dost composed thousands of lines of poetry in Pashto. Most of his poetry was seized by the U.S. military when he was released from prison in April 2005. During the first year of his incarceration, he wasn’t allowed pen and paper, so he scratched short poems on Styrofoam cups with pebbles or wrote them with toothpaste. The cups were passed from cell to cell and thrown away at the end of the day.

[Research note: this poem comes from Poems from Guantánamo: The Prisoners Speak (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2007), p. 35]