NEW POETRY BY TARIQ LATIF
TARIQ LATIF has three poetry collections all published by Arc. His latest The Punjabi Weddings was published in 2007. His most recent publication is the pamphlet Smithereens which is shortlisted for the Callum MacDonald memorial prize and was published by Arc in 2015. Tariq lives in Argyll and loves rambling around the Highlands.
Your wintered-out path is pocked
with puddles of sick water.
It snakes and turns on itself.
Each iced surface is a page
smeared by clumsy curves, random
braille or binary language
shaped by the movement of beasts,
boots or migratory birds.
Clues in some strange code of how
you were brain-washed and deceived.
Remember when you were five
you kept slipping on the hard
frozen pond? I kept hoping
you would work out the method
to balance your weight that would
keep you upright. When you fell
the fourth time I gathered you
in my strong arms, held you tight
whispered it’s all-right. I won’t
let you go. Somehow over
the years you fell in cyber
space; vanished in some web-cam
dream. Migratory birds will
find their way back home but not
you. There are no return flights
from the country you entered.
No maps. No telephones. Nothing.
Your callous brutality
will not get you to heaven.
Your jihadist cries are lies.
I am sick with shame. Horror
and shame. I pray to Allah
to receive those you murdered
in paradise; to comfort
their distressed families and
for Christ’s blood to absolve us.
L’amour de Fromage
She served him baked camembert
in bread crumbs with walnuts, red
grapes and delicate lettuce leaves.
His bottle green eyes were blue
veined like a strong stilton.
They gleamed with each mouthful.
For the main course she gave him
beefsteak tomatoes with halloumi
topped with a melt of jalapeno cheese
and semi-fried duck eggs. Clinking
their sauvignon blanc filled glasses
they were in heaven. Afterwards
before he could ask, she told him
there was only room for one man
in her life and she handed him
a packet of cheese, a special import
from Israel. The label read
“Cheeses of Nazareth.” He smiled
and began to undo her lacy blouse…
Drowsy with sunflowers, lavender
and sweet alyssum she is all
emptied out. Exhausted,
among fading scents of flowers,
wings half torn, she is pumping
her abdomen to energise her limbs
for the return journey home.
I suspect she knows it is hopeless.
I’d like to think she is puzzling
over the purpose of her short
selfless life. Perhaps she imagines
a heaven as an endless summer,
with thousands of rich
blossoms, hives brimming
with dark honey and life as rest
and play. That, of course, is absurd
but no more so than the homeless
followers of Christ who were promised
special homes in heaven
nor the Muslims whose faith
began in a desert and were promised
a heaven full of oases
with clear running streams
that taste sweet as honey.
I watch, her intake of air lessen,
her last tender moments break
with the same ease as beeswax.
All works published by the Glasgow Review of Books are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and the journal reserves the right to be named as place of first publication in any citation. Copyright remains with the poet. http://www.glasgowreviewofbooks.com