Correspondents swayed by craggy coxcombs
in cow towns across saltine craters, Soraya,
know our salt lick has been volatile for years,
search engines having collided with turtles
and urchins climbing the sea wall as planets
characteristic of stress: Shri shrew mole
asked me last night about the showdown,
and I was shroud-laid, shrunk in my shtetl.
Kashruth in Kathiawar, Soraya, involving
AK-47s frozen like katabatic Karajan,
kapellmeister rising like a fleche among
the flecks of campanile sunshine, our flax
flautist whose drogue parachute droops
in song, town droogs daydreaming of jobs.
Dateline Karachi: checksum, checkered flag
of chemical abuse, casting bread upon the
waters of laughter, the bravura of bilboes,
binary operation upon the beach buggy of
my favorite bawd, while you, Soraya, bead
of hijra, high holiday leaping over Hilbert
space, monofilament for monition, fjord
between my legs, discover the fissionable
rush basket, my earphone to earth. Soraya,
the monkey on my back is a mongoloid
nitwit, Nkrumah’s noetic no-fault prize,
drinking palm wine, Pandarus panicking
me to monoglot cycling. I am left mucking
about the misprision of my mulatto rule.
We were spellchecking the Gaza sphinx
for Spenserian stanzas, Soraya, spermaceti
drenching spicy candles originating in our
spine. Spin doctors came out in touring
cars, unloading touchwood, yanking off
toupees and prayer shawls, precipitating
fetuses knocked by ferules. You make me
a diorama in a field of camping dinosaurs,
intermezzo in crocket. Crones hoping to
die, Soraya, are bespoke units, precentors
whose prebendary we never begrudge.
Still, the pratique you worked hard to get
is never immune to revision, even Quetz-
alcoatl abandoning mornings to quinine.
Anis Shivani’s sonnets are from a collection by the same title forthcoming in 2014. Anis’s recent books include My Tranquil War and Other Poems (2012) and The Fifth Lash and Other Stories (2012). A novel called Karachi Raj is forthcoming in 2014. Books in progress include a novel called Abruzzi, 1936, a poetry collection called Empire, and a book of criticism called Plastic Realism: Neoliberal Discourse in New American Fiction. New work appears in the Yale Review, Boston Review, Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Antioch Review, Epoch, AGNI, Volt, and elsewhere.