Glenn Shaheen


Sto-Vo-Kor, Klingon Heaven. A place for the honored dead to celebrate and fight imaginary battles and drink bloodwine afterward for all eternity. Only the honored dead, only those who have died in battle, doing something heroic. Klingons aren’t real, sadface. If they were, there’d be billions of them, probably different religions and sects. No way everybody could die honorably in battle, or have a friend win a battle in your name.

The main thing people know about me is I like Star Trek. In adulthood I embrace the nerdiness, but it’s not the cool kind of nerdiness poets can get behind. Mostly, poets are posturing for likes. White poets never put their bodies on the line when it counts. 

I’ve never been in a war, but I’ve had little fights and tremors. In elementary school I got in four fights. One was against my best friend who wanted to play on the playground before school. But we’re not allowed! What a lil weiner I was! He beat me up, but I bloodied his nose by throwing my glasses at him. Another fight was against another good friend after I made fun of his girlfriend in fifth grade. He handled me easily, and we went home and played Construx. Another fight was against some bullies in the woods, a group of us nerds. It was no contest and one slammed a piece of a log on my head. That’s dangerous pal! The last one was against my neighbor who was goaded into fighting me for no reason. I “won” but I felt bad and he ran home crying. I don’t know why it happened in the first place. 

This wasn’t honor, this was machismo. Fights to copy American television shows, the struggle always the celebration. What would I do now, if someone was messing with my special lady in a bar? Probably tell them to grow up and we’d leave. A punch can seriously fuck you up. I don’t think there’s honor in battle, but people have been doing it in our names our whole lives.



Queens, and kings. Quaaludes, I don’t really know what they’re for. Quiznos. Q&As. Qo’noS, the concept of it anyway. Question: what exactly is a panty raid? Queen Latifah. Quacks. Qatar. Qat for all you Scrabble heads, a little chewable leaf. Quotes. Quotes out of context. Quid pro quo. Quigley, above and down under. Quinine. Quests, holy and otherwise. Quenching one’s thirst. Quaint lil villages. Quiet! Quips. Question: how much wood could? Quiche for Christmas Eve dinner. Quarantine, we all know it now. Quebec. Q-tips. Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest. Queen. Quality control. Query letters. Q: The Winged Serpent. Quitting a bad job in a fun way. Quitting a bad job but the manager cries, so you decide to stay on anyway. Quite serious. Queues. Qui? Quoi? Quand? Quein? Quilts, grandmas’ and AIDS. Quint from Jaws. Quesedillas. Quality Inns. Question: do you really want to love me? Queso, and chile con. Queen Anne’s Lace, whoever she is. QVC, at least I think it’s still around. Question: are we still around? Quantity vs. Quality. Quantity, these days. Quantity, food. Quantity, lethal aid. Quantity, engagement metrics. Quintuplets, you’ll never be lonely. Quiet, I want to be lonely. Quaffs. Queefs, sorry, sorry, had to do it. Queequeg. Quick, to the escape rafts. Quash, I was threatened by a poet. Question: how long do poets hold grudges anyway? Quintillions of stars in the sky, we can only see ten from here, deep in the city. 



You are taken to Gre’thor on the barge of the dead if you have died without honor. In Gre’thor, pain, I suppose, but mostly the pain of knowing you are dishonored. You fight losing battles. I’m always fighting a losing battle. Life keeps gaining ground every single day. I thought trench warfare would help, but I am overwhelmed. Honor is something made up by governments to hoodwink the poor into fighting for it. You say it is dishonorable to attack civilians, I say the way to win a war against a rich nation is to only target the rich in their homes. Hold on, I’m being taken away.

Just kidding! Pick up those guns and what not, it’s alright. The United States is zero and seven since World War II. 

After college I was severely underemployed. I tried teaching middle school. I was not rehired because I lacked withitness. I don’t know either. I bagged groceries for a dime above minimum wage. This was not the 1950s, this was the 21st century. My brother was in the Marine Corps, so my mother kept bugging me to join the military, I’d be an officer, she could have another flag on her house. I did not believe in the military, thought the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were egregious mistakes, but went to sign up to spite her. I’d get killed on the other side of the planet, that’ll show her! The Marine and Air Force recruiters were out for lunch, so I went into the Navy recruiters. They took my info, they said “Shaheen, eh? Is that Dutch?” They knew it wasn’t Dutch, those wiseacres! Of course, they were disappointed when they found out my Arabic was limited to grandmother and grandfather. I was all ready to take the ASVAB whenever they asked if I needed glasses. Whoops! My eyes are terrible. My prescription now is -15.25. They said I could pay for laser surgery and come back a year after that. Not likely, see you later motherfuckers! I nannied a professor’s son and worked at a T-shirt factory to supplement my income. Better than being on a boat, helping people be dead. They don’t need any extra help doing that.


Headshot | Glenn Shaheen


GLENN SHAHEEN is the author of four books. He is the President of the Radius of Arab American Writers and teaches at Prairie View A&M University.