SHADAB ZEEST HASHMI

Ghazal: Sign Language

Cast off the gloves— your hand is bejeweled with language
Words fling into shape on your palm, angled with language

At the tyrant's shut window, you built a case for your voice
You were jailed in an exquisite silence, chiseled with language

Those leonine eyes have met nameless fears; their fires are raw
They speak in cinders to the huntsman bundled in language

Nostalgic for a win, you let the Pacific wash over the board game
Did you forget how oceans bring back time— bottled in language?

Phone-cameras catch men in uniform pillaging, pissing on corpses
Zeest, the paper lies again, shows how truth is burgled with language


Shadab Zeest Hashmi is the author of Kohl & Chalk and Baker of Tarifa. She has won the San Diego Book Award for poetry, the Nazim Hikmet Poetry Prize, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize multiple times. She has been published in Prairie Schooner, Poetry International, The Cortland Review, Vallum, Atlanta Review, Journal of Postcolonial Writings, and other journals worldwide. She has published lyrical essays as well as essays on the craft and the history of the ghazal and qasida forms. She is a guest columnist for 3 Quarks Daily.