How much further do you have to go?

"How much further do you have to go?"
"All the way"
"Is all the way far enough for the traveller to arrive?"
"No. But I see a fabulous eagle
circling above us, flying low!" - Mahmoud Darwish

How much further do you have to go?
Take the riven road, the salted
peak, the molten snow as your
guide; take the eagle’s tangled
vision and the child’s eye – now


the not poem and the axed vocal

the not poem is stuck
somewhere between asphalt

and shock, between hidden
and remember; yes, the

height of its navel is wrong,
and no, we are not worried.


I crucify the axed
  vocal, the
  lesser I, in

Deference to the
  whole, and

The whole revisits
  as an


Are you an algorithm?

Are you an algorithm? An
Anticipated piece of code

That worries about the ifs
And elses? And is it just

To be invariant, sitting at
The top of the loop circum-

Ambulating kafkaesque proc-
Edures, functions of state?


Slavery according to Aristotle

“One who is a human being belonging by nature not to himself but to another is by nature a slave; and being a man he is an article of property, and an article of property is an instrument . . . The slave is a living tool, just as a tool is an inanimate slave.

Hence there are by nature various classes of rulers and ruled. For the freeman rules the slave, the male the female, and the man the child.

The art of war includes hunting, an art which we ought to practice against wild beasts and against men who, though intended by nature to be governed, refuse to submit; for war of such a kind is naturally just.

Bodily service for the necessities of life is forthcoming from both, from slaves and from domestic animals alike. The intention of nature therefore is to make the bodies of freemen and of slaves different.”

“Slavery according to Aristotle”, from the book, Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone by Eduardo Galeano.

Bodily service – the axe to grind
An historical allegory; would you
Refer to the nightwatchman to
Guard you against the sinning saint?

Or would you rather breathe content,
Despising the reined, despite the
Rain off course, of coarse fabric,
Taint, hubris, hued with haw & pun?


to commit to a version of truth

to experiment is to commit to
   a version of truth that

is yet to be saved from a 
   toxic reinterpretation; to

commit to heaven's plaint; to
   lock fire in a wordchamber

struggling to know the color
   of gas, wire and triangles.

The eyes of each figleaf

The eyes of each figleaf see
   different, see the opacity

Ripe with mention, rite, rose,
   ribald; the eyes of each

Tentacle of time tell triptychs
   tuned to hell, how, humming

Red, pipes of a scorched screech
   rust, remembered, river.

Zoomkawala Sahab

mohammed zoomkawala-4
A couplet by Ahmad Faraz, one of the poets that occupied a prominent place on his bookshelf.
A dream that took all of life’s dreams
A flood of sleep takes that dream away

mohammed zoomkawala-1
His most oft-cited Persian verse from Saadi. It speaks of the humility of the raindrop when it meets the expanse of the ocean.

mohammed zoomkawala-2

One of his poems from 2002. The only thing that could outweigh his wit was the exhortation to hear out his poetry. And everyone complied.

mohammed zoomkawala-5

I took this picture of him, from the mid-70’s, with my very first camera.

Mohammad Zoomkawala
Educator, Poet, Dad.
June 19, 1932 – March 24, 2016


I want to miss out on the poem

I want to miss out on the poem that is dreadnight, the cull of the swan seeking warm headwinds, the primacy of the wind and the clamor of demons sticking around to see if the poem makes it through its dreadnight. I want to miss the cull of the swan, the flavor of the wind that stammers and bellows, the pirate acknowledgment, the filial paternalism. I want to miss the primacy of the wind that lulls the banal. I want to miss out on the poem that is dreadnight.


in retreat

that the broken
    stutters its utter 

malignancy in retreat, that water
    is now
    nice - politeness

in retreat, that summer
    down - not in

advance, that
    afterlife is

measurable in loveless
    that too in

defeat, that quote
    ghalib - in
defeat, that rote missive and yesterday missing its yesterday.

thought-act of praxis

the act which sets you free is a guest
remembering, formatting, cementing,

decelerating the accidents of rhyme; this
act of need, of kind, of truce, a kind of

thought – the thought that binds the act
and feel – the river and skin and word; the

act that binds the small, the worm and
thin and hurt, the will of all and naught.