As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Yasmeen Najmi – Poetry

The Tipping Point

I am only half of you
half of your subcontinent skin
my autumn-stained hair
half your ink and girth

my stories are served to me on small plates
my stories are only half of yours

the low hum of your words lifts and tilts in quiet waves
through the savanna of your chest
the steeped air swoons cardamom
and I am running with you in mud washed streets
your grandmother’s fried puri crunches
then fills the mouth in oily plumes
the way my grandmother’s surely must have tasted

my stories are the Other castes that wait outside the temple
shout devotion at stone and embraced by echo
in the flickering tango of shadows
we enter
fold our bodies and breath into maternal contours
shell cracked to source
rifts in ancient masonry cull the heat of severance

fingers of moon slip between window bars
the arcs of twisted limbs
and I imagine your stories are mine.

Listen to Yasmeen read The Tipping Point

* * *

Love Poem to the Pedicurist

Those neon blue crystals are a landslide of cold lava
they remind him of the sea
and me of our childhood toilet bowl
a small mountain lake in those desperately dewy Midwest summers

I don’t know whether the white towel waved at my feet
or his smile surrender me to the army of small fingers
butterflying toes with the precision of closing a wound
or de-boning his thousandth fish

but my eyes always suture at the approach of needles or nail files
and I replay the men in Turkey drinking chai in dollhouse glass
their cards pause only for a pretty woman passing
murmuring as if she couldn’t read them

Did he tell his friends back home?
Maybe they joked about how many legs he’s touched
smoke and laughter thrust through carmelized teeth
America has made you a woman

his tattoo pops and bends as he oils my legs
shimmies each foot until it sparks
I bridle a warble and force it back into the gate
when his thumbs push the cotton middle of my soles
my spine is a blinking string of Christmas
ohhh…how did he know I like the chocolates with the soft centers?

You’re not like most men
hands asleep after a few strokes
I want to whisper through the black prairie of hair

his face turned to an old war movie
playing on the other wall.

Listen to Yasmeen read Love Poem To The Pedicurist

* * *

Yasmeen Najmi HeadshotYasmeen Najmi self-published a poetry chapbook in 2004 titled Ankh, the Hindi word for “eye.” She’s working on a second featuring poetry and photography inspired by Main Streets created by the railroad in small New Mexico towns, where she passed many happy hours strolling and chatting with eighty-year-olds and eating ice cream. Her poems appear in Artistica, Graffiti Kolkata Broadside, La Bloga, El Tecolote’s 40th Anniversary Literary Edition, Tilling the Earth Woman, Poets for Living Waters and the anthologies The Stark Electric Space, Adobe Walls and Fixed and Free Poetry. An environmental planner and public servant, her poetry often reflects her deep connections to the ecology and cultures of the Rio Grande. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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One comment on “Yasmeen Najmi – Poetry

  1. Maia Ray
    February 6, 2013

    Graciously beautifuLL~

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