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The laws of Physics are God, I say.

But God is not the laws. The laws are not God.

Nothing, perhaps, is.

I wish for idols, bits of God
to worship, stare at, to keep.

Once, for two months, my mind shook like a hammer. I did not know you then. As He watched, I slept through the afternoons, pacing and pacing the remaining hours. There is uncertainty in your future, a woman on the street told me. I can see it. You will be very unhappy, very soon.

He speaks without lips
or hands,
and his neglect, too,

is, perhaps, deliberate.
We cannot know.

All we know is what He is not—
grime or filth or fire—

but perhaps not all
of even that.

The scraping of coin against coin, of train against track, of purse link against turnstile: my teeth are naked beneath metal. It builds and builds until I cry each night. He watches the tongues of flame cast shadows across my neck. He watches, without the dark in His eyes.

Struggle has no perspective. Neither does infinity.


You watch,
waiting until I fall asleep,
your hand in mine.

Your brown lashes, the curve
of your nose, your irises
of gold.
My love,
my life,
this is why I want to touch

every bit of you:

to know you are real.




Fanaa: End of Self

A glance was all it took
to turn him mad as a moth—

unbathed and barely clothed,
teeth chipped, lips hard,
hair and hair
ran through the market
ripped his collar, cried
Laila, Laila

Dust on his head, blood
on his sleeve,
he danced
as the gods of age
cast stone after stone
upon his chest.

Her curls, too,
had once fallen on him
like calamity. Now he tore

the desert with verses
of thirst and praise:
Come, quell my fever.
Even death is not so cruel.

As she rose again
she was smoke, soft
and gray, searching.
His wings,
by now, were burnt.

You’ve destroyed me, he accused.
So when she wrote at last,

he ingested her words,
smashed their shrines.

“Disorder” reprinted from What is Not Beautiful by Adeeba Talukder. Copyright © 2018 by Adeeba Talukder. Used with permission of the publisher, Glass Poetry Press.

Adeeba Talukder is a Pakistani American poet, translator, and singer. She translates Urdu and Persian poetry, and cannot help but bring elements from these worlds to her own work in English. She is the author of What Is Not Beautiful (Glass Poetry Press, 2018). Her book Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved, forthcoming through Tupelo Press, is a winner of the Kundiman Prize. A Best of the Net finalist and a Pushcart nominee, Adeeba holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and is a 2017 Poets House Emerging Poets Fellow.

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