A Poem

PASSIVITY Two Birds of ParadiseOn the Tree of LifeDazzle the wall aboveHis king-size bed He names the female birdAfter my cousin SofiaHeartless tease at fourteenI too fancy her Feigning sleep in his bedroomOn a corner chaiseMy fingers trembleAbove combed fringes Perched on a branchThe male yearns for flightHis one-eyed gaze fixedUpon Grandfather’s hand Fondling Sofia…

Poem

LOST IN TRANSLATION “Dye,” Mother saystouching her silver hair. Harry the shrink strokes his gray beard,“I'm proud of it.” “Operation Doctor Sahib,” she points to the mole on her nose. “God’s gift,” he says. She shows him her ulna, fractured in a recent fall. “Make it as it was.” Harry the shrink shows his bruised…

Poem

On Seeing Bahadur Shah ZafarThe Last Mughal Emperor1775 – 1862 The king is a subject—A worldReversed Son of a pig—A viceroy will take pleasureIn a king exposed Bolstered on a charpoy—Gaunt in white kurta;Block-printed pajamas? Long stem of a hookah—A humid verandahA garrison in Rangoon Exiled—O, Delhi,The Red Fort Yesterday –seems ages ago–Court painters paintedHis…

Poem

STARTING MY DESCENT After a bomb rips the baggage claimI sprout wings running on the tarmac.Single file khakis blurring smashedGold of mustard flowers. My legs Collapse. I roar over tips of Poplars, followThe Jhelum upstream where MotherKneeling at the river’s source tears openA pomegranate with bare hands. “Rubies From my dowry stolen by the in-laws.”…

Sunday Bath

IMy sister latched the door:A tube of light through the panestunned the cement floor. My kid brother and I satnaked near a bucket,a canister to scoop water Lifebuoy soap on chipped saucer,a cylindrical container poised on bricks,faucet crudely soldered to hem. Under the container,nuggets glowed on a charcoal burnerheating up the water. Let’s be clear…

Poem

“THE PRESIDENT IS HUMAN. HE GETS SICK” — White House Press Secretary Responding to Reporters' Questions in The New York Times, January 9, 1992 A thousand tiny dots of light: I diminish the noise. Duped smirk on aging face, eyes eclipsed by spectacles, The President, previously recorded, vomits, moving his lips slowly. Watching me watching…

AFTER SEEING CARYL CHURCHILL’S SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN

After Seeing Caryl Churchill's Seven Jewish Children, A Play For Gaza by Rafiq Kathwari Tell her the proper name of thingsThis is barbed wireThis is a watch-tower (so unlike the one in Brooklyn)These are thermal imaging video camerasThese are 25-foot-high concrete slabsDon’t tell her this is a fenceTell her it is a wall Teach her…