Sky Ward

Sky Ward

by Kazim Ali

NOOK Book(eBook)

$14.99 $19.99 Save 25% Current price is $14.99, Original price is $19.99. You Save 25%.
View All Available Formats & Editions

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now

Overview

<P><B>Winner of the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry (2014)</B></P><P>Drunk on the sun and the sea, Kazim Ali's new poems swoop linguistically but ground themselves vividly in the daily and real. Both imprisoned by endlessness and dependent on it for nurturing and care, in Sky Ward Ali goes further than ever before in sounding out the spaces between music and silence, between sky and ocean, between human and eternal. "Daily I wish stitched here to live," moans his Prometheus, wondering what release from familiar bondage might actually portend. "So long liberation," his Icarus sings as he plummets from the sky with desperation and grace, ready to unfeather and plunge into the everything-new. Whether in the extended poem-prayer to Alice Coltrane or in the "deleted scenes" and "alternate endings" to his critically acclaimed volume Bright Felon, or in the spirit-infused and multi-faceted lyrics he has become known for, Ali once again reinvents possibilities for the personal lyric and narrative.</P>

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780819573582
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Publication date: 05/20/2013
Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 100
File size: 472 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

<P>KAZIM ALI is a poet, essayist, fiction writer, and translator. His books of poetry include The Far Mosque, The Fortieth Day, and Bright Felon. Ali is an associate professor of creative writing and comparative literature at Oberlin College and teaches in the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine.</P>

Read an Excerpt

Sky Ward


By Kazim Ali

Wesleyan University Press

Copyright © 2013 Mohammad Kazim Ali
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8195-7358-2



CHAPTER 1

    Journey to Providence


    body a window is thrown is throne
    sewn along the seam of I

    courage an empty bowl drained or teeming
    drowned or sown along what seems like sky


    well came the problem of where to live
    driving through the gray evening, cold rain on the windows
    listening to melancholy piano on the radio

    why can't I look at people when I am speaking to them
    my touch is an argument for pleasure or pressure
    mornings I run whipstill and drunk at the body's rage


    gorgeous I miss
    not salvation but bliss I adore
    discs of green melting snow reveals

    When the journal of music gave way
    to the journal of pain the pages curled
    themselves into fists and wept


    but will I broken will I undone
    at the water ask to go deeper a boat
    dusting linden clears away envy

    wandering like lilac snow in dunes
    never the water enter the duskwarm room
    will I let you wing me will I have leapt skyward


    there is a dream past all unsleeping
    a fire turned friend and held
    if we are wedded how does the wind go through me

    carving monoliths and caves
    valley conversant in streaks of light
    my tongue disappear into dusk's many tongues


    there is no one to write this sadness how hard it is
    going to be to live without him a lonely gathering
    a haze a crated shrine air thick and healing itself

    unraveled collapsed into who would have known
    the cost of breaking I could have told you
    with a lurch we are all of a sudden airborne


    prepare to open the leaves not a canticle of wind but reverie
    or revelation
    the black square perhaps meaning a dissolving of the body into
    the ground
    though isn't this what you were promised and crave

    here on the frightened bluff naked in the moonlight
    with a view of the foundry spitting up flames and liquid stone
    everything we love has been lost we are in a wilderness


    you will get told bell astral buoy hurricane eye
    night soaking the foothills in lambent downpour
    a storm front approaching with the gentlest touch

    never care atlas let the cold in from every corner
    something has recessed you have noticed this before of course
    the rain has not yet fallen but still fiery felt on the skin


    why say out the beach's syllables dark recess you climbed
    dare you say salvation what can it mean to the unmoment saved
    it works to fold into a thousand flying cranes

    one moment we came to an empty house in the country
    and wondered
    who lived there the next moment we were a wild boat refusing
    to return to harbor even at the storm's violent height


    glass you remember the other life:
    rain, the beach, his breath hot on your neck
    what are we if not lost in pools of blame

    sunlight yield the harshest corner
    where the last words still stray
    what you want most is to hold breath in you


    Lake House


    Now to praise utterly unceasing
    now to shadow and learn

    Flickering pulse last chapter sent
    Never to touchbe shorn

    Full hour spent spelling my house
    by web to thread air blue

    By cover of night tree to tree
    strung any place through

    Seen clear sun cold lake soul
    found any place home

    Now done under woven to spill
    Blue night lake foal


    Divination


    Your son turns restive in his sleep
    Whispered away by morning to dusk

    Verses bloom along his wrists and throat
    In bright sentences his name is cut

    Five times a day he cries out
    His voice snuffed in flowery wells

    He knows in his heart none can take you truly in
    Save the house that unhomed you


    Fairy Tale


    In the acres of garden before an empty house an amnesiac prince
    collects broken branches, prunes the fruit trees, plucks weeds from the
    rock bed.

    He speaks a broken language of beach and Broadway and on the way
    to shore gets lost and finds himself in a cemetery at sunset, pink light
    on the stones.

    He cannot read the inscriptions but kneels down at a cenotaph
    anyhow and recites the only prayers he can remember.

    Why, when we wanted to speak to nothing but water, is he singing
    verses down into the stone hard earth in a town he has never
    belonged to, lost on his way to the shore?

    If only he would learn to read the book of the sky, he would see the
    birds circling lazily around hot currents, which could only mean a large
    body of water is near.

    The words are hollow in his mouth and he doesn't know what he
    believes anyhow, whether bodies will again rise or if the aerial rumors
    of the gulls will lead him to the sea or if the numb tombstone in his
    mouth might indeed speak.

    His scripture comes out sideways and his mispronunciation of the
    most sacred of syllables makes him always friendless. It's nearly a
    party trick the way he opens his mouth and butterflies pour out, closes
    it again and the clock chimes, reminding him of being a young boy,
    coming home to an empty house, sure that he had been forgotten,
    that everyone had gone to the beach without him.

    Sure that he would always be forgotten, that he would lie down in his
    grave and no ghost would come to fetch him or explain god or what
    was supposed to happen next.

    That the grave would fill with dirt and he would rise on the boat of
    his body. That no one would recite sacred chapters for him, that he
    wouldn't know how to take the rudder, that the sea was too far.

    The boat now coming apart, his voice dwindling, hard as stone.

    Finally he sees a bird winging down calling, "Find-me, find-me!"

    But he doesn't understand words, only sound, the shape of words, the
    tune to which they are sung.

    All the sacred verses in the world are like birds wheeling in the sky,
    who knows where they go.


    High Stakes Game


    Little by little I strife I come by
    holding dark felt aloft

    Outsmarting winter's final blue scene
    I see the outline of invisible water

    See me winter
    Raise me felt and snow


    Freeze Tag


    Why agree to this awful treaty

    To share the fate of fire and flesh

    Released from stillness by a single touch

    For barely one moment being able to think "I"

    Through stone or muck we run as if on fire

    Fingers reaching to save all the others

    No return home but an eternity of transformation

    Everyone crying out not-it not-it


    Baptism


    Ashamed and almost withering
    when the winged god flew from my throat

    I wanted to kill him for wanting him
    begged to be reborn as a brute or beast but

    it was me who wanted to be killed like a king,
    my uncertain body chained to the rocks promising

    to lie still, to be destroyed, wanting only
    to kiss the hands of my winged assassin

    I would break any promise to be so
    daily devoured, eternally delivered —


    Frozen


    Daily I wish stitched here to live

    Facing west watching the last light

    Tattooed on my left wrist, "let-go"

    Tattooed on my right wrist, "not-it"

    Daily you make me dizzy with messages

    Nightly torn open by brute sky and eagle claw

    The strongest man in the world is on his way to release me

    But what happens when a frozen man is touched by fire

    Upon release I may disappear


    The Nowhere House


    chrysalis drinking brought me brought me certain and dour

    shadow intoxicant lust me

    brahmacharya charlatan commit your crime


    saint olga broumas seize me
    saint shahid ali sees me

    still as that starving humble boy who stumbled
    north up the river from the city thrusting

    every time I look into the house of nowhere
    sound hums under

    weigh me down and need me
    saint sufi anyone knead me


    Prayer Request Cards


    I would like the church to pray for

    a clear reckoning
    the core unearthed
    what's best born skyward
    searched

    who's most easily followed
    seared

    who's most faithful
    beckoned to
    queer


    I would like the church to pray


    my psalm to unsettle the case
    my askance umbilical lust to review
    and refute the evidence

    to enter my gilt-edged tongue
    as final proof
    of innocence


    I would like the church


    on the inside of my sin
    to spell out my breath
    to draw a wing


    The Good Brother


    A penniless pot-maker I am always willing to condemn or be
    sentenced.

    Oh yes, as the fan turned in the hot afternoon I bore witness to
    the sadness of our father, working his way through blade and stone,
    hungry to guide his son.

    I am the good brother, never to know more, never to look at the
    far shore.

    For a decade I made pilgrimage to the river, scoping out the place
    I heard my brother fell.

    Brother of the bird, I watched from a distance wondering if I would
    have had the courage to listen to our father.

    Still unbelieving, I remain in the lair of the beast; only half a man,
    I declined the coat my brother wore, incandescent aspect of both bird
    and angel.


    Ticket


    I dug graves in my pockets searching for the ticket out.
    Intent on escape I never noticed there was no wall.

    I lash myself daily describing fake bondage:
    All the prisons and pockets, the graves in which I bury myself.


    Swoon


    small sound pocket
    sky torn wound

    down my body
    eight limbed swoon

    lunar starved catastrophe
    across the midline stranded

    stranger street lantern
    leading to winter

    time unwrought sore
    still who are you

    no where ecstatic
    beside yourself now


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Sky Ward by Kazim Ali. Copyright © 2013 Mohammad Kazim Ali. Excerpted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

<P>Follower<BR>Journey to Providence<BR>Lake House<BR>Divination<BR>Fairy Tale<BR>High Stakes Game<BR>Freeze Tag<BR>Baptism<BR>Frozen<BR>The Nowhere House<BR>Prayer Request Cards<BR>The Good Brother<BR>Ticket<BR>Swoon<BR>Crib<BR>Bright Felon Deleted Scene 3<BR>Launch<BR>Twin<BR>Shrine<BR>Autobiography<BR>The Escape<BR>Sinking<BR>Ghost Anchor<BR>Prayer<BR>Rapture<BR>Epiphany<BR>Ocean Street<BR>Adrift<BR>The Fortieth Day<BR>The Plaint of Marah, Woman of Sodom<BR>Promisekeeper<BR>Handwritten Notes on the Screenplay for Bright Felon: The Movie<BR>Bright Felon Alternate Ending<BR>The Vineyard<BR>December<BR>Open House<BR>The Mountain Comes to Mohammad<BR>Morning News<BR>Fragment<BR>The Wrestler<BR>Dark Room<BR>Dugout<BR>Lake Animal You<BR>Daylight Savings<BR>Goya's New York<BR>Hofmann's New York<BR>Dry Dock<BR>Monochromatic<BR>Dear Shams<BR>The Argument<BR>Confession<BR>The Promise of Blue<BR>Hymn<BR>Acknowledgments<BR>Notes</P>

What People are Saying About This

Donald Revell

“Ali is one of the very few poets now writing dedicated to the enlargement (rather than the abandonment) of the lyric mode. With these new poems, he has opened a wide, new space for the music of what happens and shown us a worthy, if challenging, task for that music.”

Tracie Morris

“Beautiful, echoing poetry that finds ‘No return home but an eternity of transformation.’ Ali has a delicate touch and these poems leave us (for we are reluctant to leave them), playing in space.”

From the Publisher

"Beautiful, echoing poetry that finds 'No return home but an eternity of transformation.' Ali has a delicate touch and these poems leave us (for we are reluctant to leave them), playing in space."—Tracie Morris, author of Rhyme Scheme

"Ali is one of the very few poets now writing dedicated to the enlargement (rather than the abandonment) of the lyric mode. With these new poems, he has opened a wide, new space for the music of what happens and shown us a worthy, if challenging, task for that music."—Donald Revell, author of The Bitter Withy

"In, out, secrecy, exposure. The book is resonant with the poetry of Hafiz and Rumi but stays grounded in the contemporary, especially in its candor, and unease. But then the language and vision is also Romantic and pleasurable, calling to be heard aloud"—Fanny Howe, author of Come and See

Fanny Howe

“In, out, secrecy, exposure. The book is resonant with the poetry of Hafiz and Rumi but stays grounded in the contemporary, especially in its candor, and unease. But then the language and vision is also Romantic and pleasurable, calling to be heard aloud”

Customer Reviews