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Mir Mahfuz Ali is an exceptional new voice in British poetry; native of what is now Bangladesh, Mahfuz grew up during the difficult period of the early 1970s when the region was struck, first by a devastating cyclone, then by a particularly vicious civil war. As a boy, Mahfuz witnessed atrocities and writes about them with a searing directness in poems like “My Salma” and the title poem. But much more than this, his trauma becomes transformative, and his poetry the key to unlocking memories of a childhood that are rich in nuance, gorgeous in detail, and evocative of a beautiful country. They celebrate the human capacity for love, survival and renewal.
dark. You neither have the sun’s fire nor the moon’s ice.Your white lantern blinks on and off, wants to sleep and dream the life of trees which burrow their roots into the wet to terrify the worms. If the trees could babble, they’d only hum some low green note for the lonely place where ripe fruits wake the birds. My First Shock at School Muktar was his name – his tongue still white with his mother’s milk – and he sucked his thumb in the classroom. Monsoon music drowned the day.
with jute thicker than his arms. The man had a goat-beard, wore a long garment, a round white topi on his head. He was more like a madrassa teacher than a monk. He had a stout stick the size of a baseball bat in his right hand. Kept hitting the boy who had more bones than flesh. My eyes roved around the large room. The house was full of stretchers, walking sticks, pushchairs made with the wheels of children’s prams. In another room a set of ten makeshift beds on the wooden floor. A group
was no longer in her love as the summer shadows dropped out of the trees. The Nectarine Tree Up in the tree the plumpest nectarine, tight on its stalk, tantalised Rubina. She couldn’t reach it, so with a hazel stick she tried to knock it loose but it only blushed. I clopped into sight and offered her my service, climbed up the twisted trunk, chose the one which had never been pecked by ravens or bruised by hailstones. I twisted the nectarine from its spur and she spread her skirt
the moment the rope coils around my neck and I pull like an archer. Think of all the time I’ve wasted, never have I been so fallen as today. I’ve been a cheat and must put a stop to it without dithering or bickering. Less sleep more work, this is how I now set my life to serve me best. Today my heart is a beggar, begging to let me go. The only healthy thing to do is to walk away from my lazy body, so the little time I’ve to live is decent. Suzanne Suzanne must sit before her mirror
know I went to your room yesterday looking for you? The room was so dark I thought you were sleeping. I tiptoed, whispered your name in a hanged-man’s voice — Deeba — Deeba — Deeba. I drew the curtains to catch your eyes in the light. You were not there only everything else that was yours: saris in the alna, lipstick, hair clips, hairbrush on the dressing table, finger marks on the mirror, tablas on the almira, tanpura and sitar leaning on the side of your bed. It looked as