poem index

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

poetic forms

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

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

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

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

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.