poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

poetic forms

occasions

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.

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

Kazim Ali is the author of several poetry collections, including Inquisition (Wesleyan University Press, 2018), All One's Blue: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins India, 2015), and Sky Ward (Wesleyan University Press, 2013), winner of the 2014 Ohioana Book Award in Poetry.

by this poet

poem

Do strangers make you human

Science fiction visiting bodies as cold fact

What unknown numbers govern our genes or phones

A constant thrum from outer space

Snow makes a sound in sand

You are seen from far far above

Unheard and vanished

bodies dismember to dirt

Hardly

2
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
poem

Paradise lies beneath the feet of your mother. A verse I've heard recited so frequently I do not know if it is scripture or hadith.

Hadith, meaning traditions of the prophet, are always accompanied by a careful oral lineage of who said what to whom, and who heard who say they heard what. Usually