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POETRY
Requiem for the Undead
Sofiul Azam

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    in memory of those displaced in wars

    I

Stalks of wheat and barley with their hairy roots
are drying before they get crowned in gold.
Their husks the rough skin of old-wrinkled hags.
Bullet shells no manna for one’s hunger-filled bowel.

    II

Warlords are avaricious; they care only for honey.
Houses the beehives on fire; eggs, larvae – all gone.
People the fleeing bees get their wings burned.
Dreams die with the loss of wings. Will they fly again?

    III

A mossed pond stinks with its belly-up dead fish.
Did poison ask to be poured in the dead of night?
A desert greens with corpses planted as seedlings.
Did dry sands wish to be washed out with blood?

    IV

This time not for olives and almonds; what for?
Towers of Silence, and the excarnating beasts.
Griffons gyrating overhead, only to swoop down
on the unburied dead scattered on cornfields.

    V

Nothing drops, only eggs of ruin hatched up in labs –
more alive than a scenic waterway through hills.
God hoots with cheers for the only genuine play.
Sophocles flares with envy and slips away in shame.

    VI

Weary footfalls, the oars knifing the watery flesh.
The dreams that linger are burst-out bubbles
or hollowed-out conches washed on alien shores.
Batons, barbed wares, and the cold greet the future. 

    VII

The clatter of almost empty plates at refugee camps –
a bulletin on how to weed out the roots of ruin.
It makes desires rhyme with the fluttering green.
It stops the desert eating up the veldt. Ah, the music!


Educated in English Literature at Rajshahi University, Sofiul Azam has three poetry collections Impasse (Dhaka: Pathak Shamabesh, 2003), In Love with a Gorgon (Aarhus: Les Editions du Zaporogue, 2010 and forthcoming from County Clare: Salmon Poetry), Safe under Water (Dhaka: Magnum Opus, 2014) and edited Short Stories of Selim Morshed (Dhaka: Ulukhar, 2009). His poems have appeared in magazines across the world like Prairie Schooner, Poetry Salzburg Review, Le Zaporogue, The Journal (once of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry), Orbis, Erbace, The Cannon’s Mouth, Forward Press, Conversation Poetry Quarterly, Boyne Berries, Deep South, Catamaran, Protocol, Postcolonial Text, Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts, NAP Magazine, etc. and some are anthologized in Journeys, Caught in the Net, Poets Against War, Poetry for Charity Volume 2. He is now working on Earth and Windows: New and Selected Poems. He lives with his wife and son in Dhaka and teaches English at Victoria University of Bangladesh, having taught it before at Independent University Bangladesh, Southeast University and Royal University of Dhaka.