Raza Ali Hasan
From 67 miniature moguls


As famine looms ever closer, hear this plea:
lighten the burden of your peasants.

In these strictly measured fiscal years, money managers
have mismanaged the water table in the district of Sylhet.

Just a few grains of rice can be of great lift: a little fire,
a pot full of water, a sleeping family of seven full of water.


What remains is sixty-seven mogul miniatures—
the title page lost to time, the mogul court manuscript

separated by art dealers over the years—
hung out on a clothesline with clothespins to dry

by the current owner in his own spring madness:
a confluence of East and West undulating.


Hysterical, relentless your enemy crisscrosses
the Islamic lands singing:

Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns!
One a penny two a penny—hot cross buns!

If you have no daughters, give them to your sons.
One a penny two a penny—hot cross buns!


Islam is a bonsai tree growing out of the snout of a teapot.
An outdoor plant kept in the dark for centuries,

its blind caretaker unable to see his hands
has wound the metal wire too tight—

the gnarled trunk turns upon itself
sprouting leaves only sporadically.


Time’s winged chariot is blown up by a roadside IED.
Karachi Gymkhana Club stops serving gin and tonic,

and fires its saqi, its ancient bartender—no merrymaking,
no laughter, no tears, no “you.” Yet it is you, saqi,

who steadies the paling of the pavilion of the skies.
In you, saqi, the pulse of existence beats loudest.