archives fall 2008



Autobiography 2

“begin at the earliest hour
is there a self”

At the corner of San Anton and Duende I hardly know
the edge of the sidewalk to street only a bare consonant

of the city’s frank sentence
how can I say my actual name when all I can manage is counting change

a cup of coffee I will not buy
every night the clouds argue in the sky for the right to be

the one who parts to reveal
the new month blank and disappearing day by day a new

misunderstanding of gone
how can you already if you have never yet been

the twin inside me arriving after departure
the crime of history quivering vessel

my also bones a manic making
who am I a man inside a bell inside someone else’s face

fingers that hold a skull or a pen
of course a swan could be an elephant a man could be on fire

coffee I didn’t drink pouring through time
inside a city a thousand vowels pronouncing themselves through

on every street corner a map with a thousand arrows
saying “you are here”

who are you dark-eyed and empty at the corner of San Anton and Duende
no body knows you hardly arriving and already gone 


Kazim Ali is the author of two books of poetry, The Fortieth Day and The Far Mosque, and a novel, Quinn’s Passage. A new novel, The Disappearance of Seth, is forthcoming in 2009. He teaches at Oberlin College and in the Stonecoast MFA program.