A Precarious Tilt

Smoke & Mirrors
by Rehan Qayoom


            So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

            So long lives this, and this gives life to thee,


                                William Shakespeare.  Shakespeare’s Sonnets. (Thomas Thorpe, 1609).


Sans toi, les émotions d’aujourd’hui ne seraient que la peau morte des émotions d’auterfois.




Can we only love

Something created in our own imagination?

Are we all in fact unloving and unlovable?

Then one is alone, and if one is alone

Then lover and beloved are equally unreal

And the dreamer is no more real than his dreams.


T. S. Eliot.  The Cocktail Party.  (1949).




Tonight the moon reminds me so much of you

It is as lonely as the night is making me

Penetrating the mind with its black fantasia

Learning me how Mir was moonstruck for Mah

So there are no words but the memory surviving yet as in a chrysalis:

You dancing widdershins naked in the snow, prancing

Jigging on a wibbly wobbly bridge

Swinging and unafraid to risk a fall


They laugh at me that sometime did me seek,

But once at a party I overheard 2 fictionary beaux mondes

“Ought you to wear a skirt with legs like that?”

I laughed like there’s no tomorrow

And in short, I was afraid.


Woman creates so that she may destroy

Beauty’s arch-rival: time – Subdued into a diorama of death

The drowned belle de la Seine humming

(Unknown who saw or met her, saw her weep)

To have but not to keep


The mouth in the mouth

Under the mouth

Is the round tuffet that becomes us

Because it doesn’t have to, because

It can because it is

The unreal and the real


So these are the roots that grasp at the fly in aspic

Clutch at the crystalline moon in a spray of sea-mist




So you were your own Church

Your religion was Love.

Its sacrificial murder –

That killing in heaven –

Was flow of passion here on earth

Where your kiss, your real lips,

And your words

Were the blessing.


Ted Hughes.  ‘Religion’.  Collected Poems. Edited by Paul Keegan. (Faber & Faber, 2003).


… Tu se’ ombra vedi.

… Puoi, la quantitate

Comprenderde l’amor chi temi scalda,

Quando dismento nostra vanitate

Trattando l’ombre come cosa salda


[… “For shade thou art and look’st upon a shade”

“… Now thou’lt know

How large and warm my love about thee clings

When I forget our nothingness, and go

Treating these shadows like material things.”]


                                Dante Alighieri. Divina Commedia: Purgatorio.  Translated by Dorothy L. Sayers.  Dante – The Divine Comedy ii: Purgatory. (Penguin                         Classics, 1955).


Love answers all the ogress’ grave questions

Offering even as counter-question (a salve), itself in a frisson

Saying “Silence and I speak the same language, share one quiddity

I, knowing my incapability

Interlock fingers on Imagination Road

But if holiness is a mystery

Corruption is a mystery

Sin is a mystery

You and I are history”
Love does not question

Love does not reason

It survives

The headaches, the worries, the vague, the vogue

It is all there is or ever was or will be

It is everything I know

It is what remains of us

It is God

Behind a caboose

It is death, haunted by hostile shadows

(And death is not the enemy

Time is the enemy)

Lives, the Life-in-Death, an antevasin

When the tongues of flame are in-folded

The fire and the rose are in symbiosis as one


Sometimes love is unable to share

Is delicate and vulnerable

Cannot show wishes, tell desires, touch

Nor share a joy to the senses

Far greater than makeshift individual pleasure to the spirit

Though living with oneself does not make one less human


So you are a gazelle of light all by itself

Your own muse

Your most beautiful poem

Yesterday’s dream

Was love

Too much love

In every sacred place

Of your ‘Jour-Nuit


I am not going anywhere

Because I am already there.


            Love is you

            You and me


Love is what we cannot be

‘I am you,

you are me.

I am a tree.

We …’

Love you love me

Love is lonely

Love me and give me

Life – Its poison – Love me or kill me


Only love

Can justify the art in verse

The just and the unjust

The intended and the intent

Jackknife at the diabolical form

Of the devil’s opus in Pandemonium

I know what it is

Did nobody tell you?

This is what it’s all about, what were you expecting?

It is the only way to go, you know

Echoic: the music playing

The screen flickering

And our first meeting.
Awaits (from profundity) with baited breath

Its turbulent exertion welcome

To the garden

In the garden

Under the rose-garden

As the Earth’s axis tilts towards the sun, tilts away




Rehan Qayoom is a poet of English and Urdu, editor, translator and archivist, educated at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has featured in numerous literary publications and performed his work internationally. He has published 2 books of poetry and several works of prose. www.rehanqayoom.weebly.com

Published by


Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site 17Numa.wordpress.com where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, and books can be found. He is a Best of the Net and three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Scott's poetry books include: Songs of a Dissident (Transcendent Zero Press, 2015), Chaos Songs (Weasel Press, 2016), Happy Hour Hallelujah (CTU Publishing, 2016), and Poison in Paradise (Alien Buddha Press, 2017). Scott serves as an editor for The Peregrine Muse, Happy Hour Hallelujah, and Novelmasters.

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