M. Shahid Alam - "Ghazal," "Alchemy," and "Heart"


A night reading Rumi fills ancient wineglasses.

By day speed & freeway suck God out of me.

I have stayed up all night thinking of you.

Main street & Wall Street drain love out of me.

Who is a my brother if the world is a village?

Jet and internet pluck my roots out of me.

If earth goes toxic, let’s move out to Mars.

This devil optimism takes the heart out of me.

When the wind and sky wrap me in their arms,

Shähid, this friendship takes the dread out of me.




Setting broken bones is easy. A bone-

setter I knew did it for a small fee.

Mending broken hearts is harder. It takes

time: for the heartbroken, an eternity.

Fixing heedless hearts is hardest. They

must learn the arts of spiritual alchemy.



When the long night of insurgence

ended, what I saw I had not seen.

I saw the hills ascending, coruscating

in a thousand choirs of green.

I greeted colors by their singular names,

azure, indigo, cerulean, aquamarine.

understood why red is iridescent,

why blue is boundless, serene.

I knew why the earth shouts in colors

when the sun hits the hills and plains.

Light enters the heart when the eye

learns to see: it is itself unseen.



M. Shahid Alam’s poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Chicago Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Paintbrush, Black Bear Review, West Cost Review, Marlboro Review, Journal of South Asian Literature, Kimera, Sufi, Swan, Chowk, Blanket, Pulse and CounterPunch

Posted on December 17, 2013 .