Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Poem: Naga, hooded king of fears

       The earlier post on Badshah Khan: Martin Luther King of the Northwest Territory has a special meaning for me.  I lived in Pakistan as a teenager with my parents, and some of my perspective on American life and American interventions in other places was shaped by that experience.  This poem and the next one grew out being an American boy in Karachi and Dacca (soon to be Bangla Desh). The poem was originally published in Agni some years ago.  I still don't know how to get the spacing right which harms the poem some (it's spacing is vital to it); still, it speaks in its own way. 

               

                                              1 

I wrote my parents

   of the anti-nuclear march

        in Washington

             freedom ride

                            to Chestertown

 explosions of silvering

                 world and glass

                           so fragile in our hands

 

(not of clumsy love

        ardent and fragile

                   on the trip back)

 

my dad – HARVARD WORLD BANK FORD

       advisor to dictator Ayub Khan –

                    dictated a letter

you’re a freshman

             think

                    don’t act

                             there’s so much

 

not yet Montaigne

      nonchalant among cabbages

                         I wonder

 

                         will the world

                                 outlive its gardens

 

 

                                  2

 

 

that summer in Pakistan

       sun soaked

              my father’s house

Taj – man of many languages

         and hopes for his son –

                 served the meal

five other servants

        moved quietly

                     behind the doors

                                 and in Karachi gardens

                                        where the cobras glide

 

naga

      hooded king of fears

                  rears

fanged flower among flowers

 

            aren’t you a socialist?

                        my father asked,

                               everyone

                                              should be a socialist

 

                                                          when young

 

 

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