cover image The Fortieth Day

The Fortieth Day

Kazim Ali, . . BOA Editions, $16 (78pp) ISBN 978-1-934414-04-0

Ali’s second collection continues the project he began in his debut, The Far Mosque (2005). Through these associative and sometimes disjunctive lyrics, Ali explores Eastern religions—Islam, Hinduism—as well as his relationship with a more personalized “God” who represents the unknown while still providing a sense of belonging in the world. In “Afternoon Prayer,” Ali asks, “God, a curt question or a curtain.” In the opening, “Lostness,” Ali describes his particular notion of deity—“dear God of blankness I pray to dear unerasable”—and then asks, “how could I live without You if I were ever given answers”; later, God is equated with the sparseness of daily life: “dear afternoon God dear evening God my lonely world.” Sometimes Ali arrives at mysterious, striking assertions: “A person is only a metaphor for the place he wants to go”; elsewhere, one finds well-rendered images: “the ocean will receive itself / opening its green pages to glass and sand.” A lack of mooring in the physical world makes some poems a bit slight. Nonetheless, Ali eloquently draws attention to the strange, dislocating home we make in human experience, in which “you are being whipped // around the galaxy’s center / at 25 million miles a second.” (May)