By Kazim Ali
Under the influence of alcohol at the sunlight and the ocean, Kazim Ali’s new poems swoop linguistically yet floor themselves vividly within the day-by-day and genuine. either imprisoned through endlessness and depending on it for nurturing and care, in Sky Ward Ali is going additional than ever ahead of in sounding out the areas among tune and silence, among sky and ocean, among human and everlasting. “Daily I want stitched the following to live,” moans his Prometheus, thinking about what unlock from customary bondage could truly portend. “So lengthy liberation,” his Icarus sings as he plummets from the sky with desperation and charm, able to unfeather and plunge into the everything-new. even if within the prolonged poem-prayer to Alice Coltrane or within the “deleted scenes” and “alternate endings” to his severely acclaimed quantity vibrant Felon, or within the spirit-infused and multi-faceted lyrics he has develop into identified for, Ali once more reinvents percentages for the non-public lyric and narrative.
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Additional info for Sky Ward (Wesleyan Poetry Series)
He is safe in our mountain home remembering nothing of the wound inside, the emptiness that lingers. The rocky trail leading to the shrine of my name-saint, collapsed in pieces, alarmed by the rattling sibilance. Loneliness my enemy, risky and intentional, a single line of pilgrims interrupted by abstraction. How can we speak of ordinary things when my blank chapter is still out there somewhere unaware and unwritten 29 Shrine Suppliant I lost myself soul moment to stone raised myself to disappear Sky is not I sent down and endless Nowhere emerging No cenotaph shimmering with kisses in the room of my interrupted life no name saint anywhere anymore 30 Autobiography begin at the earliest hour is there a self at the corner of San Anton and Duende I hardly know the edge of the sidewalk a bare consonant of the city’s harsh sentence how can I say my actual name when all I can manage is counting change for coffee I do not buy every night the clouds argue in the sky for the right to be the one who will part to reveal the new moon blank but appearing day by day a new misunderstanding of gone how can you already know if you have never yet been the twin inside arriving after departure the crime of history a quivering vessel my also bones a manic making who am I a man inside a bell inside someone else’s face fingers that hold a skull or pen 31 of course a swan could be an elephant or a man could be on fire the coffee I didn’t drink is pouring through time inside any city a thousand vowels pronounce themselves every street map has a thousand pointing arrows labeled “You are here” but who are you at the corner of San Anton and Duende dark-eyed and holding your empty no body knows you hardly arriving and already gone 32 The Escape Father whose purpose swims while the universe mends itself Wind was water porpoise was prophet Father my swim the sutured eventual blue splinters Seed planter, hedonist heathen when the unwise son fell to pieces Purposeless when the father flew for cover The cloven will cleave the water finishes itself, finishes me Stream unreeling, you are the end of the world, an endless horizon It’s a sham, this charnel-choice between heaven and home Finally free of the labyrinth and overhead nothing but sky 33 Sinking you became real to me father when I saw you fly over me from beneath the waves a bone-white door against the cloud-white ceiling looking for me, flapping and furious I watched you in the dark as you slept knowing the edge of you only by deeper darkness below you now in the blue-black, I am a star winking out, thinking I may wake up warm and safe in the labyrinth and not ever do this, not seek for the sun oh father my storm-dark coast, nothing fills 34 Ghost Anchor across the street that was once a river one friend recovers and another hovers a leaf reaching for the rain the bridge across the river once a street has never been raised an echo wells upstream to sound bodies evaporate and rain themselves down Dear hoverer in silence What did I at all learn from my lost book Nothing drowns 35 Prayer Denuded and abandoned I recite but what do I want To rise again from the ocean or be buried alive in the surge and sleep To be a fearsome range in a single body or to wind my unity down into depth Missing in action, ghost-like bobbing in the distance Singing psalms to terrify myself into deciding: So long liberation My time in the world was only a gesture My body a lonely stranger an ache I never knew 36 Rapture Here is your moment to affix me adoring blasphemer to breathlessness I drop myself one by one Back away sun and find me citizen of sound or stone At the border of light clamoring In cathedrals of menace every cruelty sings back to me forty voices a whole city Devour me down and bound submerged just off the coast In the battle to own yourself whom do you fight Endless ocean no way now back to land Cathedral unravel the moonless night 37 Epiphany sky-knife open the boat to oceanic lust I want to snake-handle but I want to be bitten reef, ravener, revenant remand yourselves to the undertow sluicing from the boat edge to the self-edge ask the wind what next blue swell bodies unpetal to white-gray frenzy the oar scorpions in your hand all of us hemmed to the hull barnacled to the underside rain unfurling back to sky batten me to the source sway me dusk-crazy when you arrive 38 Ocean Street to Alice Coltrane uuu blue or white or very far away every avenue a rain-stroked aisle through the wild wind’s theater far to the barque floating in the last row your self laddered to an avenue of sound last streak of white-gold found in lines along the branches or in the branches are you a branch that tries from the bark to speak cold roar of the ocean you cannot speak how loud the blue-gray morning how loud when you dissolved into sound when you dissolved April into the soul’s endless question what was your body but a first uncertain answer 39 uuu always awakened awakened and left reft the wait’s blue hollow sightless an oracle trying to tell what recedes and what’s left a shirt left crumpled in the sand in the mist you balance on a board the shape of a prayerbook racing along the surface toward the rocks finding in the water a pounding afterlife sound that undresses itself prayerbook spun to unravel answering the eroding cliffs and dunes dear orange shafts of late morning speaking backward and in tongues 40 uuu wet-suited supplicants balancing on boards racing for shore how do you find your self deeply in the forest on the ocean floor dear snake-haired woman who wondered to some the book in sound you wrote was thunder it is one thing to be lost another to be left seeking a slogan a sloka your own body dear country-dark houseflown homewrecker shy in the blackness telling how you sailed again to arrive to found yourself in sound dear hold me seen or sign the unsoundable notes saying dare to leave home drop everything did the universe write them or did you 41 uuu every aisle a rain-stroked avenue breathlessly quoted a letter in space of the sea’s blue promise each spring I lie on the surface of the sea hoping to stand aloft my shirt crumpled in front of the empty-hearted tree one sleeve pointing the way to nowhere beach wantonly disappearing every day though I did not believe when with your breath you made a bridge and dreamed myself wrong my strange and weary road my unkempt figure my blue whisper winter god whose center in the moment unwilling to be warm eternal the winter eternal the wind unmaking your will will and whisper my anger my lantern my spaceless wick but how my tenuous prayerboard can a supplicant balancing on the surface know anything about depth 42 uuu struggling out of the waves moon a little red illegible whole sky starless in the late hour I didn’t tell you wrote into me the answer or a map to follow boardless and battered heaved ashore on the pulled-back day in the effort of ache where did I swim in from water that wholly disappears into air or does not disappear speaking underwater because afraid to be heard nothing after no one waiting for me sky and sky the same grave gray that terrifies turning the page of breath where I left myself without sound into the air I spell each spring like “swan” noises from the next room keep you awake god that was a noise in the night at the foot of the bed claiming kinship or revival transcribing the ghost-notes onto the sheets we who each divine our self in spite of ourselves running wildly boards under our arms back into the sea 43 uuu in case of warmth the oceans will rise strange cup to move through after the continents came together after you swam crazy through the storm to shore after you asked for it after you drove yourself relentlessly into the sea we listen to one gust after the other a gorgeous scale in the most ordinary range drumming the time of the sea into a signature of leaves twenty minutes of ecstasy blue and after the blue, blue-white a buoy, a sandpiper, a wholesale slaughter of blue either way the harp’s plucked chords like the fog or the answer of water dissolved into the shore’s copious footnotes transcribing the music onto ebbing surface a missing word where continents rub together disappear or dispel the notion there is any such word worth knowing a bridge collapsing along unquelled cadences of sound when you whisper yourself to eternity whose name did you whisper and into whose ear 44 uuu blue my promise that divided itself from flesh into sound and from sound to womb womb to thrum that sundered the water’s surface clamorous and racing away dear unjacketed traveler evaporate ghostlike distance was that you who entered illegible annotations in my book on surf in the tenth hour of the fourth month of which year god the river that raced you on the surface to shore every I a rain-stroked avenue breathlessly quoting rain to the sand lean close saint nothing send me through it sister cup 45 uuu a body slides through the water cleanly angling for rocky shore eternal internal zephyr men have dashed themselves to death to feel the racing thrill how do you pronounce year after year “home” or “death” the ocean avenue a bridge ready to collapse pond evaporates to air your breath made a bridge impatient penitents race for the exit lean close saint everyone I live neither here nor there the ocean scrambling itself to answer sketching you in pieces everywhere in an odd scene paddling against the current straining for shore you drew yourself in time a backwards sign surfing on the breath wishing to be not an echo of the ocean but its escalation and when I cast myself across the surface I stopped wondering would I float or would I drown 46 Adrift Oh the diminishing racket of voices calling my name eclipsed by the new moon and indiscernible dark I have somehow become the center of the universe I wept for a year on the open water strangling myself with banishment sensation vanishing in the depths the rain a faded photo from fifteen years ago I am a forgotten bit of metropolitan trash tied to his moment of redrawing the border between twilight and daybreak Forever at the edge of something that could save me And the disastrous fear of what it would take to save me My life in its entirety only imaginary or perhaps the rapturous notion I cannot be saved 47 The Fortieth Day Seeing your way clear of endless storm A raft carries you across the unstruck sound You leave off the body no one’s playing Every one looking for some thing newer than death 48 The Plaint of Marah, Woman of Sodom Sundered and sinful, caught in the rain of fire nearly devoured, now inch by long inch turning to salt, that’s me, the blasphemer, Sodomite, unsure of what’s true making a break for the shelter ahead, wondering if it will ever sink in, will I ever learn what we did wrong — uuu Drench me well, downpour, combust me to ash.
Uncontained in silence the sun is eclipsed. In Dante’s Hell, him with my name is split neck to navel and stuffed with maggots and grubs. “You’re turning your back on people,” says Amelia. But on the subway I steal glances at your ear, your cheek, your chin, when I think you are not looking. It’s not true, it’s not true. Your mouth, your hand, your ankle, your thigh. I am an inferno of fallen creatures, all wriggling for the light. 25 Launch Unmake yourself year by year Your urge surges in your ear No purpose at all but dispersal tools of everywhere time strange cup spilled the gap of fill no one your brethren seem no bestial stranger disturbing your house no odd shattered flowering bed a hagiography of feathers glued to your sin-singed skin aim for the sun, singing in long unforgotten tongues I’m leaving you behind A ghost of a prayer Leaving you behind a shining thread 26 2 27 Twin I’ve never stopped looking for my twin in the rain, not him but me who is the long-lost brother.
There are only mountains, clouds, empty streets, two pictures of my back. Uncontained in silence the sun is eclipsed. In Dante’s Hell, him with my name is split neck to navel and stuffed with maggots and grubs. “You’re turning your back on people,” says Amelia. But on the subway I steal glances at your ear, your cheek, your chin, when I think you are not looking. It’s not true, it’s not true. Your mouth, your hand, your ankle, your thigh. I am an inferno of fallen creatures, all wriggling for the light.
Sky Ward (Wesleyan Poetry Series) by Kazim Ali