These poems walk through cities in bodies that don’t belong. They speak through moments in migration, music, film and pop culture. These are poems as acts of resistance, renewal and reclamation. Poems that make shrines of grimy corners. They are dancing until the sun comes up and laughing in the face of anyone who says they cannot take up space.

POEM FOR NUSRAT FATEH ALI KHAN ENDING IN A BEGINNING

Yours is the music of quiet 4am, of solitary afternoons that seem unending. Yours the music of desire, the exhale of the Urdu word for ‘want’, like the sound of a lung first learning breath. Yours the shape of my father’s mouth turning into song. Yours the voice of sandpaper and husk, like the call for God coming out of a garbage truck throat. Yours the voice of surrender, surrender, surrender to the longing of the living, to all bottomless need to be filled, to find another, to be whole. Yours the poet’s knowledge of how to moan a word, yours the low humming of all the world’s restless stirring. Yours the yearning, the always and forever yearning, yours the trembling lips of a muted string waiting to burst into passion. Yours the hunger of a fakir who has forsaken begging to shout from the rooftops. Yours the sweet wine of grief, the unbridled intoxication which you deliver like a lover’s return. Yours the lust. Yours the notes that land like a hand tapping on the tight drumskin of my heart, then the strum of the harmonica which struggles to keep up with your voice soaring into the sky. Yours the utterance of devotion, yours the prophet’s chant, yours the treacherous winding road harmony, yours the fevered ecstasy. Yours a wild animal wail from before words, the sound of the soul freed of the ribcage, from some ancient deep forgotten history, yours every exuberant end, yours every troubled beginning.