Dispossession

A fear of place, of
breeding to

Haunt the place, of
want and if

Of place, the trove
giving love

Of place, the trove
matching it

And mess of place -

If it is possible to have in language – popular or literary – hooks that thrive on an awe of the hallowed; words, poems, books that convey the sense that the key to this fascinating ineffable lies in somehow giving up your voice in favor of the few who have crossed on to the other side, the side that looks down only to be relieved; does that not goad us in forgetting genocide every took place, and even if it did, what’s the big deal?

This tree will not sound out
Beginnings; it will not prepare
A crowd to tumble the heart’s

Mend to a clearing; more acid
Is the earth’s bile dream believing
Catacombs to be phoenixes, armor

To be insufficient and the roots
Of earth as linking the ends: here
Where it starts and the outmost in

most there.

Reblog: Degrees of freedom

Here is one I posted five years ago. Munira was reminded by Facebook; she reminded me,  and I met myself once again with a “glad to meet you” and decided to repost. She asked me to dedicate it to Qandeel Baloch, so I do. One of my recent posts is Silence and Freedom which is relevant to both this post and Baloch in two ways: i) the external form and ii) Audre Lorde’s words: when Lorde speaks of oppression, the resonance is deep enough to touch all its fangs: race, gender, class, age, and every which way in which humans otherize the other.

Degrees of Freedom

Tagore/Kabir V – Maya as oppression

This is the third post in the Tagore/Kabir series.

I
An oppressive taunt is Maya’s
Brother in law; the

Cusp of a lesser heaven; the
Beerbelly is contingent

Upon remembering how much seep
Was ingested and

How it came about that you wept
So soundly.

II
A fellow blogger/poet, ThotPurge, interpreted the original thus:

I killed my shadow
Blocking the afternoon sun
Now clouds distract me

Ans this is how Tagore originally appropriated Kabir

I. 63. avadhû, mâyâ tajî na jây

  Tell me, Brother, how can I renounce Maya?
  When I gave up the tying of ribbons, still I tied my garment
    about me:
  When I gave up tying my garment, still I covered my body in its
    folds.
  So, when I give up passion, I see that anger remains;
  And when I renounce anger, greed is with me still;
  And when greed is vanquished, pride and vainglory remain;
  When the mind is detached and casts Maya away, still it clings to
    the letter.
  Kabîr says, "Listen to me, dear Sadhu! the true path is rarely
    found."

Silence and freedom

The quotes prefacing my poems below are taken from a 1977 paper delivered by Audre Lorde titled, “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action”.

“What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?”
the bureaucracy of joy
Operationally exigent, the
Skill of my day-to-day is
Contingent, held by the
Noosed nylon that will swing

You to the other side; the door
Is procedure, sentiment; cross that
Tee and knot that eye with thatched
Thistle carving up the parchment

Into friendly spaces, cells and columns,
Political economy of verbs & nouns,
Forms content with fill, ink’s dissent
With fill of space, the dotted eye.

“We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.”
rules of communion
Commit to the arbitrary whim
That seeks plenitude but knows

Not how, and then organize those
Whims, the exigencies of action.

Figure out the ancestry of the
Why of what you have to do, and

Write it down: to commit is to
Want to breathe, sink and greet.

“The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.”
freedom is inherently dangerous

freedom is inherently dangerous; it can
unfetter the slovenly pink and discolor
the unfelt solder, the axed appropriate
mandate, the breaking of swords, triads

of affiliation, tinpots of manged hate;
freedom is thus danger; and why not? it
reeks of past, it seeks the past, flits
of memory crawl out of nowhere nothings

inmost verbiage

When does the poem cease to be mere wordplay and start living out its words in the tenements of a tiny courage, wilful but soaked in fear?

“…the myth of the equality of all individuals, when the question: “Do you know who you’re talking to?” is still current among us.” – Paolo Freire, “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed”

the structure of domination housed
in a tiny neuron frame in the insides
of the insides of your innermost
recesses – is the DNA that animates

your prose, your work of ought,
naught, verbiage, verse, as it claims
to know, to want to deem to know
the heart of snow, the flake.

Decree of refusal

A necessarily clumsy translation of the last four lines of Faiz’s 1966 poem, sar-e-waadi-e-seena, written after the Arab Israeli war would go thus:

As the chosen few have ritualized oppression
And the preacher exhorts holy surrender to servitude
Reversing centuries of acquiescence to injustice
Mandates an urgent decree of refusal.

Here are the last four lines in transcribed Urdu:
ab rasm-e-sitam hikmat-e-Khaasaan-e-zameeN hai
taeed-e-sitam maslihat-e-mufti-e-deeN hai
ab sadyoN ke iqraar-e-ataa’at ko badalnay
laazim hai ke inkaar ka farmaaN koi utray

Here now is my own rendition of those four lines, taking the spirit of what Faiz says and transfiguring it, correcting it even, to fit the spirit of our times. The self-love imagery – and the line from Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” – comes from my visit to the gym earlier today where I saw a man continually admiring himself in the mirror. On my way back home, the line on sewage was decreed.

Narcissus is want is need is
Me and I, I, I -
The flex of an inflexible memory, the creed of
Muscle and
Harm - The stench of sewage will overpower
The lord of mercy as he pleads, "Man, what are you doing here?"

faiz

night is willing

Language tips the iceberg that is thought. If verse is to claim a similar relation to language, all sorts of decisions have to be made. Incisive decisions to cut all that ties words – and thus thought – to oppression. Otherwise, there is little point in words.

Agree the night is
      willing to knife
  the wind, to

Sleep in the tent of
      your erstwhile
  friend, this

Knife is wet with doubt
      and much thought
  passes by, -