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Three Poems

Kazim Ali


God: a curt question or curtain.
The call to prayer fading away.

May I request evening or more rain?
Doing laundry, getting new tires—

May I invest smartly, catch the later train?
Snow filling the margins, sun setting across the river.

As we rush north, everything is pulled back:
The snow, the day’s work, the curtain on its frame—

The Window Pane
(a version of Rene Char)

Pure torrents, the torture

The one you are waiting for, the face you are looking at

An insurgent’s face

The other one, the happy one, warming up next to the fire

Which of them is you?

I love, strange joiner, both rain and glass

Am torrent and torturer

Am rainstorm and light

The Ninth Planet

In the shadow cast by the end of time who will believe the earth was not merely a vast plain

Faith requires a law to assure clay’s obedience to gravity and light

Who wouldn’t believe that otherwise we would slingshot into space, oceans would pour

from the earth’s stark edges. The universe is the most of human of individuals—

Lowell never saw the proof of Pluto in his lifetime:

Observing the erratic wobble of Neptune’s orbit, he plotted diagrams and equations

and left instructions as to where in the night sky the wanderer would be found