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About this Poem 

"I was asked by a friend, a poet, what I thought about poetry and to explain why I write poetry. This is the letter I wrote back to him."
Kazim Ali

Dear J.

Kazim Ali, 1971

It should be a letter
To the man inside
I could not become

Dressed in yellow
And green, the colors of spring
So I could leave death

In its chamber veined
With deep ore
I’ve no more to tell you

Last winter I climbed
The mountains of Musoorie
To hear frozen peals of bell and wire

A silver thread of sound
Sky to navel
Draws me

like the black strip
in a flower’s throat
meant to guide you in

I lie now in the winter
open-petaled beneath Sirius
I cereus bloom

Copyright © 2013 by Kazim Ali. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 24, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Kazim Ali. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 24, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Kazim Ali

Kazim Ali

His first collection of poetry, The Far Mosque (Alice James Books, 2005), won the Alice James Books New England/New York Award

by this poet

poem
In the convicted evening I am a victor struck loose and restless,
creeping for the unlocked window.

The family inside at the dinner table is mine.

Listening to the escape story on the radio, my mother's hand freezes
in the air halfway to her mouth.

She realizes it's me they're talking about.

Lightning by
poem

My father's silence I cannot brook. By now he must know I live and well.

My heart is nickel, unearthed and sent. We are a manmade catastrophe.

Unable to forgive, deeply mine this earthly light that swells sickly inside.

Like wind I drift westward and profane when the doors of ice slide open.

poem
a light knocking on the sleep door
like the sound of a rope striking the side of a boat

heard underwater
boats pulling up alongside each other

beneath the surface we rub up against each other
will we capsize in

the surge and silence
of waking from sleep

you are a lost canoe, navigating by me
I am the star