This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

May-June 2009

Two Poems by Asher Ghaffar

Asher Ghaffar

Alchemy of Traces

There’s a tyrant of a ghost
who visited my apartment

on Dufferin Street,
strangled me with a towel.

“I was born before the gold rush,
before the flood,

before once upon a time. I want to be
known in harrowing grief.”

In a nightmare, my herm-
aphrodite muse whispered,

“To lose a finger is to grow
a hand, a new sensorial world.

Allow the book to die inside
the museum of your skull.

In discarded bone, write the book
back and forth for centuries,

begin when granular words
lock into traces. Alchemical maps.

Maps of unknowing. Blossoming
maps with no locations.

When the granular
trace shapes itself into a key,

shuttle back and forth
from door to door, never crossing

into a house. You will become
a rib cage of music when the book

envelops you like a moat.
The book is the home

for a wandering idiot. No one
envies a poet in the 21 century.

Who is sufficiently haunted
to map the eruption of history

from a threshold in this country
of liars and thieves?

The best of them send you apologetic
emails for their ecstatic flights.

Drown the book to unearth
its dark intention. Draw it up

like a fossil made radiant
with geometry of light.”

I closed my book of nightmares
and bid my muse

adieu and began to write
about the great, wild West

or was it the great, white North?

O glory floating out of brass,


Stranger, fixed like acid
on blotter paper,
swallowed by the nameless
night plant with petal

Stranger, shadow without
trace, circulating
absence, repetition
of walking without feet,
drowning without water,
barking to the hereafter

Stranger, entombed in eyes,
sagging shadow,
forgetful of who
she thought she was, forgetful
of what she might have been
had she not lapsed.

Stranger with no country, fallen
through a cloud, disengaged
from the eyes, fallen
to the ground, prostrate
to the hidden, forgotten.

Asher Ghaffar is a poet residing in Toronto. His first book of poetry, Wasps  in a Golden Dream Hum a Strange Music, is published with ECW press.

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