Shadab Zeest Hashmi

To the Poet whose Body was Never Found

The Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca was killed by Nationalist forces in 1936, when he was at the height of his fame. His body was never found.



Qasida of Fire in Fingertips

This night the piano stands on demon
limbs. Keys, reptilian, slither out of
your childhood siestas. And boy called death
throws a shadow one last time, calls out your
name with his cinnabar lips. Is the song
now beginning to turn your fingers purple,
peeling apart layers of premonition?
Was it a blue vest that night you wore to
the firing squad? Lip barbed with midnight’s glass
whispering, street names form sepals to hold you.



Qasida of Ghosts Fighting Back

The death mask comes to life at five in the
afternoon, searching for faces: man huddled
on train tracks, man addled by poisons,
woman struck by pulsing shadows. See Church
bells roll like heads on golden chains, flags shiver
in this dance of the beheaded, cement
melts into saliva, bricks come loose. You
wait on the bench, sweaty, hear seagulls tingling
with the island’s glow, saltwater’s lust, your
fire in staccato travels to your fingertips.



Qasida of Solea

The salt, heelwork, hammer against anvil.
You flamenco your feathers of deserts
past, funneling a far caravan through
your piquant ear, gazelle with bones soft as
molasses, beloved’s gaze on Saturn’s game.
You wipe your brow with the borrowed sleeve of
witness, history panting for breath. You
fan yourself to sleep, ready for the night
entwined in the wheel of fortune, dream of
a fire and a wind that refuse to burn book or book lover.



Qasida of Sketching

By night you catalogue the swindled songs,
courtyard echoing with your angry boots.
The fountain, once favored by the mythic
Hoopoe and the august flights eastward of
its companions, is robbed, sits holding
ripped petals that skim stale water. There are
fringed shawls but no gitanas, no roses
in hair, no electricity in gaze,
no perspiration, no azure steam of
duende. You sketch them one by one.<>/p



Qasida of the Dreamer’s Grove

Were you stabbed by the telegraph’s daggers
for trading guile for a grove of olives
to sing under? The gash runs across your
torso like a monologue in market-
speak. When it scars, it will leave you a map
of lullaby country, kept raw in honey,
winding down the cool of whistling alleys,
through thickets of Monk Parakeets, ospreys,
owls, through museums half a world away—
to bring you home to salve and scent and shade.



Shadab Zeest Hashmi is the winner of the San Diego Book Award, Sable’s Hybrid Book Prize, the Nazim Hikmet Poetry Prize and multiple Pushcart nominations. Her books include Baker of Tarifa, Kohl and Chalk, Ghazal Cosmopolitan and the lyric memoir Comb. Her work has been translated into Spanish, Turkish and Urdu, and has appeared, or is forthcoming in Thrush, Prairie Schooner, Mudlark, The Cortland Review, Poetry International, Vallum, Poem, The Adirondack Review, Spillway, Atlanta Review, World Literature Today, Wasafiri and other journals worldwide.