FOR H by Rehan Qayoom

February 16, 2016 by RJ

 

Years of research and a line of verse
The paper detritus is left behind
My pipe is full of butt-ends from the grate
Fit them all in anywhere

How much do you want of me? How much can you take?
What do I have to do to win your emotions, or am I beyond redemption?
אם אין אני לי, מי לי; וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני; ואם לא עכשיו, אימת*

This city fell a long time ago
Taken (not by impercipiently asking octogenarians)
By Blairian barbarians
Search now in vain for her lime green bowers
Try to convince yourself they do not know
Try not to cough in case it notices

This city is too big for you
Its current crop is rotten to the core
Its streets are being cleared of the remains
So then why this constant need for companionship?
I cannot say
But if you had stuck out your thumb, yes
You would have stopped any of the 3 trains to Paris that have just passed you by

Hold my hand
“Where are we going?”
I do not know whether to bask in the delight of these magic circles you form so much
Or the inclement weatherful trees or you
And yes, that also explains the twitch
He wants you to hold his hands too
My élan vital, timeless, true
Precambrian remembrancer, alphabetic osmosis

Come gentle sleep to wile my woes away
Severely swaying, saying

“Where are you staying?”
“I’m coming over” and the rest of it
I do not seek my image in the mist of eternal burning

 

* ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’ Rabbi Hillel. Pirkei Avot 1.

 

 

REHAN QAYOOM is a poet of English and Urdu, editor, translator and archivist, educated at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has featured in numerous literary publications and performed his work internationally.  He is the author of About Time and other books.

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