"not desi" and other poems

by Selina Mahmood

not desi

show me then,
the pen you used
to incise my lands.
show me the shoes
you had worn,
the blackness of
their polish.
i’ll show you the
red fields
where all sides
were annihilated.  
i’ll show you you,
& how you look
at me, how i
look at myself:
watered down
to an umbrellaed
“desi,”
as if my history
were insignificant,
as if Quaid’s fight
had not been fought;
as if my
grandmother
had not sifted
the alive from
the dead at
Partition;
as if my forbearers
had not traveled
to trade Kashmiri
& Farsi for
Urdu –
oh & how Urdu
does deserve
her own land,
if lands must
be —
as if our
clothes, art, thoughts,
gestures, walks, are
the same:
they are not.
decorate your
body with
impermeable
trinkets, but
you are not of your
own people,
but part of
the melting pot,
melting (with
colonial materials,
the World’s Fair
put in a) pot.

 

migrations

the waves turned
into the sand, 
folding into
its softness, 
hiding from
the moon, 
running from
the tide. 
we sat on
precipitous
bearings,
demarcating lines
of transition: 
here i lived, 
here i moved, 
here, the
space that
was lost, & 
here—
i am no more. 

 

a show for two

welcome to the era of news and fads, of
          new fundamentalists and new atheists, 
of new spiritualism and new millennials,
of new religiosity and new irreligiosity, 
                   of new dogmatists on any spectrum
                   where a spectrum can be created.   

welcome to modernity, where black and white
will always be modern but not as modern as
new filtered pictures.                where history
is forsaken by brain butcherers. 

welcome to modernity, where we make a fool of
the past to be only that much more foolish.    
               where we forsake the old for new never
contemplating the old in new.     the past is not
dead, it is not even passed. 

Caitlyn Garcia