i.m.Agha Shahid Ali

Where was poetry mislaid in New Jersey
but in suburban comfort put and paid in New Jersey?

Sluggard train, commuters close across,
not like time, its progress undelayed in New Jersey.

Wetlands snake around roads, tracks,
depots, dumps, their fragrant stew and trade in New Jersey.

Tonight in town as friends read your poems,
your voice persists in theirs, those words replayed in New Jersey.

Not stacked concrete and steel, all hardened edge,
but creeks, curving shrubs, a long-cast shade in New Jersey.

Thistle and tansy scrawl toward orphaned fields
where corn climbs: a dense and doomed parade in New Jersey.

Last year, the farmer ploughed where mansions squeeze,
bay by bay, their panels and panes arrayed in New Jersey.

Spring rains raise the lawn ragged. And here
and there and there: dandelions inlaid in New Jersey.

Warehouse stores, blind to the road, enclose
stacked stuff and air; you hear their serenade in New Jersey.

Each driven errand carts away the days
in plastic bags. What never have I made in New Jersey?

One sunlit, pond-side afternoon of books
clears malled thoughts. Let senses cascade in New Jersey.

Foreign affairs? The students know nothing,
care nothing; yet history is nothing’s blade in New Jersey.

Sputtered groans approach, recede, approach,
the hill made close with cars against the grade in New Jersey.

The surf cleans away an ice cream wrapper
and leaves sunrise, into which we wade in New Jersey.

Our dead ones perch. They sway above this present
laughter on such sadness! But dears, don’t fade in New Jersey.

My room of words measures inches squared,
wide as the world and narrow as afraid in New Jersey.

Beneath the bridge at New Hope dingies moor
in swirls of current, lines deployed and played in New Jersey.

A night of ghazals comes to an end to fill
with birds. As the sky blues, their calls braid in New Jersey.

In your luxury of days, shadow, look
from love that’s neither stumped nor strayed in New Jersey.


Sandy Solomon's book, Pears, Lake, Sun, received the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press; it was also published in the UK by Peterloo Poets. Individual poems have appeared in such magazines as The New Yorker, New Republic, Threepenny Review, Gettysburg Review, Partisan Review and Poetry Review (London). She teaches at Vanderbilt University where she is Writer in Residence in the Creative Writing Program.