top of page

Making Hajj at Bear Lodge

by Kevin James

click-clack, something snapped

perhaps Ground Zero rubble

burst my self-identity bubble,

or 2002 headlines that stressed

religious police kept firefighters

from rescuing Meccan schoolgirls

due to dress - no matter

I vowed never to set foot

in Saudi Arabia regardless

Allah totally understood

Allah already knew I would


the Book, the One

organizing principle

internalized horizon

mirror to the soul

finding in scripture

what I brought to it

inverted relation between

human and Absolute Being

agnostic dialectics

determined in the last instance

neither prophets’ nor philosophers’

but my own soliloquy of immanence

Allah understood

Allah knew my thoughts before I did


all beings act

according to their nature

with each having a focal point

about which they revolve

hence my resolve

to discover my own

so when my son asked me

during our walk one morning

“hey pops, how about a trip

to Bear Lodge in Wyoming?”

monolithic Tower of Power

landing strip for alien spaceships

half-way between NY & Oregon

ah ha! this would be my Hajj…

sure, let’s do it

Allah understood

Allah already knew we would

we left NYC with an aura of sadness

Adrienne, my wife, just couldn’t join us

oh, she loved Close Encounters so

but cancer and bad knees told her no

then we flew and we drove

at ridiculously high speeds

along empty expanses of highway

until Bear Lodge began filling

the rough-hewn vista:

no wonder, I thought

the indigenous peoples

who lived in its presence

venerated Bear Lodge

in its sacred quintessence

Allah understood

Allah always knew they would


it was somber, mystical

joyous all rolled into one

we traipsed around the base

mostly in solitude

beneath pixilated shadows & light beams

cast by the blazing spotlight overhead

making communion all the while

taking selfies, marveling at rock climbers

against the pure azure-blue sky

some near the summit so high

they appeared as motionless specks

transfixed in the magical event horizon

of Bear Lodge’s gravitational vortex

like we were

as I am


Allah understands all too well.

About the Author

The author is a retired New York City firefighter and arson investigator who was one of several Muslim Americans profiled in the PBS documentary Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet. He was a Revson Fellow at Columbia University where he also participated in the 9/11 Oral History Project and later graduated from Columbia Law School as a Stone Scholar. His poetry has appeared in Into the Void, the Tahoma Literary Review, the Black Mountain Press, Griffel, Moonstone Arts Center, Beyond Words Literary, Rigorous and The Dewdrop. Most of his published works can be accessed at

bottom of page