Poetry by Sham-e-Ali Nayeem

Posted on Thu, Apr 14 2011 1:44 am by Sham-e-Ali Nayeem

Sham-e-Ali Nayeem will appear with Tomás Riley for Equilibrium: Spoken Word at the Loft on April 16, 2011. She is kind to share some of her work prior to the event.


(Previously published in Mizna Journal, used by permission)

dusty desire

to suspend her in

a make-believe past.



time warp.


instruct her

on her plight


ventriloquist voyeur

telepathic authority

who climbs the bones of her spine

to get a better view.


expert of delusions

speaking of silhouette apparitions

draped in black,

non-entities restricted

to fantasy private spaces.


ponder, over this “kind” of woman.

grade A specimen B

displayed in glass case #5

scurrying about natural habitat

imaginary woman

indiscernible invisible kind of woman

distorted contorted

shadow woman.


but despite desperate wishes

you can’t claim her blood

healed wounds, heart

can’t explain what you don’t know

indispensable life-force

gut essence, dignity


unable to contain

nucleus incandescent spirit

substance, survival

who exists

in this modern present,

living       being.


Seeing Ourselves

No matter,

that I was told to



Resilient with




even without



Told to


apologies for oppression

or pull the frayed edges

of fabric we have woven

holding our tale

in our words.


How do I see you through the

tangled caricature?


sharing story

over dinner as we

carefully weave

soul strands together

or the serenity of your smile,

as you wish me peace

on the subway platform.


Place of Birth

I write


my place of birth

with attention


to longitude and latitude

planetary alignment

when the earth on its


axis tipped

just so

as the sun set orange


on rocky Hyderbadi soil.


See the moon rise and new stars

arrange themselves


painstakingly in preparation


to guide me in dreams

to this place


long after,

lodging themselves

in my deepest memory

burrowed in the folds

and wisdom of infancy

their light

clinging to mild wind.


So what?


That I never lived

here more than a month

emerged from womb

to this small spot

a space forever


rewriting itself

in my heart

shape shifting


and transforming

as the skies

in earth’s cycles

the smoky smell of this air

have I imagined it?


I taste the air’s dryness here first.

This can never be taken from me

when the longing returns

my eyes reveal visions

from those first days

when the light reflected

only that way.