Soraya 4.

Poetry / Anis Shivani

:: Soraya 4. ::

Blood of descendants, Soraya, platinum
graphs of Polynesian math, somewhere
in the darwinian islands polymaths’ braille
brains loosen lotus notes, lost for words.
Coloratura saturates democracy taking root
in ashes, aspidistra assigned to blow-dried
circadian dividers of the island. Obloquy
favors ocarina made of occidental mouth-
piece. Phoenix rising from phosphorous
doge telephone, Soraya, your philippic
this examined morning snowing letters
and business, sniffing out the soft clam
wherein I solemnize solfege of typhoon
typewriters. Tweedy, our twilight-fused 
twins, twisting in the wind on twig beds.



From the writer

:: Account ::

Plat­inum / graphs of Poly­ne­sian math”: Poet­ic forms con­geal and rust over time; their orig­i­nal mean­ing becomes a bur­den rather than an aid to lib­er­a­tion. Poet­ry wants to be free, yet knows free­dom is the vastest bur­den (because mean­ing comes only from its oppo­sites). The para­dox in the pre­ced­ing state­ment com­pels me to artic­u­late new bound­aries of free­dom, know­ing that with each lav­ish phrase or con­cept I am fur­ther hedg­ing myself in: nev­er­the­less, poet­ry as pure poten­tial, poet­ry as the raw input of lan­guages of self-deceit, poet­ry as the efful­gence of dynam­ic met­rics and bare­ly coher­ing sub­ver­sions, is what inter­ests me the most at the moment.

I sol­em­nize solfege of typhoon / type­writ­ers”: In this Soraya son­net, as in the accom­pa­ny­ing 99 oth­ers (why 100? because a cen­tu­ry is a fick­le con­struct absolute­ly provoca­tive to his­to­ri­ans), I am steeped in a dead (but still kick­ing) his­to­ry of sur­re­al­ism that informs my out­ward self in a way that usu­al­ly fails to sat­u­rate the inward self. The son­net splits divi­sions, heals chasms, bridges sep­a­ra­tions, is a form of love in its own unique way, for me the most potent of all tra­di­tion­al appa­ra­tus­es for suture.

Your philip­pic / this exam­ined morn­ing snow­ing let­ters / and busi­ness”: There is some­thing Jun­gian about the late prac­tice of son­net­teer­ing, know­ing as we do that roman­tic (par­tic­u­lar­ly trou­ba­dour) love is a lost cause, has no place in the con­tem­po­rary econ­o­my of mean­ings, yet we are unable to deny our­selves its valid plea­sures. The poet, when he con­structs a son­net today, offers him­self up for sac­ri­fice or mar­tyr­dom of a dubi­ous kind: in his own image, nar­cis­sis­tic and lush­ly ego­is­tic, in the eyes of the world, a potent machine for myth-mak­ing, ful­ly jus­ti­fied and ratio­nal­ized. Why not push the dual­i­ty to extremes?

Phoenix ris­ing from phos­pho­rous / doge tele­phone”: The robot­ic is an obvi­ous corol­lary that emerges from pret­ti­fied myth-mak­ing of a com­pul­sive kind, and I play with this notion through­out this book—it is a book in the sense that it final­ly sub­mits to begin­ning, mid­dle, and end, yet has a dual opin­ion about its repro­ducibil­i­ty, both agnos­tic and affir­ma­tive at the same time. Any­way, robots can be poets and vice ver­sa, or so we are pro­pelled to believe as we waver on the edge of the age of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence. What hap­pens to unre­con­struct­ed, irre­pro­ducible, anom­alous intel­li­gence? Is this one of the demons poet­ry is most urgent­ly fight­ing today?

Col­oratu­ra sat­u­rates democ­ra­cy tak­ing root / in ash­es”: As lan­guage becomes flat­tened in all its usages—comparable to the con­trolled demo­li­tion of sur­re­al urban towers—and pro­ceeds accord­ing to a ter­ror­ism of dic­tion, why not imag­ine the impromp­tu rise of tow­ers taller than any we have war­rant for? Why not expect lan­guage to rise ver­ti­cal­ly and at fever­ish rock­et speed from the ash­es of the con­spir­a­cy that has all but won the day?

Some­where / in the dar­win­ian islands poly­maths’ braille / brains loosen lotus notes”: From Young Hegelians via Kierkegaard to Niet­zsche and beyond (we still live in the cor­rupt­ed age of Freud, besot­ted with our van­i­ties) is a fruit­less (and often seam­less) tran­si­tion. Along the trail there have been dis­as­ters galore, pri­mar­i­ly the loss of the abil­i­ty to artic­u­late, which comes from our flawed notion that every­thing (poet­i­cal­ly) that can be artic­u­lat­ed has already been done so, that this is a late, unbe­moan­able, age of sorts. Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth. The world is embry­on­ic and unmade yet; we know not the first thing about lan­guage, our fun­da­men­tal tool of expres­sion; if only we stop try­ing to bend it just the right way, some­thing new can still be born, and of course it will, there will be a ver­i­ta­ble demo­graph­ic explo­sion such as will please the hearts of fas­cists and democ­rats alike. Not so much hybrid­i­ty and mongrelization—quaint words, these, at this point in time—as ter­ror­ists rigged out in bombs clasp­ing each oth­er under the heav­en­ly spring sun­light. Yes, I was there, and so were you.


Anis Shiv­ani’s son­net is part of Soraya: Son­nets, forth­com­ing in ear­ly 2015. Son­nets from the book also appear in Black War­rior Review, Bor­der­lands, Every­day Genius, The Jour­nal, Mud­lark, Omni­verse, Volt, Waxwing, Whiskey Island, and else­where. Anis’s recent books include Ana­to­lia and Oth­er Sto­ries, The Fifth Lash and Oth­er Sto­ries, My Tran­quil War and Oth­er Poems, and Karachi Raj: A Nov­el. Books recent­ly fin­ished or in progress include the nov­els A His­to­ry of the Cat in Nine Chap­ters or Less and Abruzzi, 1936, and a col­lec­tion of essays called Lit­er­a­ture in the Age of Glob­al­iza­tion.