Anis Shivani

Anis Shivani’s books of poetry include My Tranquil War and Other Poems, Whatever Speaks on Behalf of Hashish: Poems, and Soraya: Sonnets. Books forthcoming in the immediate future include A History of the Cat in Nine Chapters or Less: A Novel, Literary Writing in the Twenty-First Century: Conversations, and Confessions I: Poems. New writing appears in Western Humanities Review, Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast, The Journal, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Subtropics, Volt, Epoch, AGNI, Tenderloin, Mudlark, and elsewhere. Anis lives in Houston, Texas, with his adorable kitty Foolittle, and runs an alternative art venue called Monsoon Art Space.


I cannot defy my own mutinous followers
to turn me out of office, the baser elements
have mutinied against the golden sun: the
beggar makes a mumping face and knocks

at every gate. I cannot do better than study
the history of the middle ages, like a blighted
colander—tradition of construction in brick.
A cigar or cigarette is held in the mouth,

obscure clouds molded by the casual air,
a glass-cutter’s pattern, the opening of the
suture of the infant’s head—I heard what
you said when you grabbed that rope. Our

ghost is clad in white, not dead mull-mull
or nainsook, but whiteness the abstraction.


Down I fell on my back, down the dead
flight of stairs, a faint clop-clop of Mahbub’s
retreating feet—Glenn Gould might well be
sitting at the piano gazing wistfully at the

hockey game outside. My boots go clop
along the stony ground, I, sir, dedicating
genius to the cloacaline floods. Twenty-
seven folio volumes cleanly drilled through

by the larva of the beetle, a prison for
Indian princes standing around or about,
bystanders, their faces cicatrized with
little patches of burnt furze. O cicerone,

in so wide a kingdom, point out to me the
clapboarding on the sunny side of chaos.


The fairest oratrice to win my attention:
tears orb themselves beneath the prof-
essor’s lids, the part of the catechism
written for the lower orders. Such a

process is called first-order, converging
to death. I mean the oriole, the roar of the
outboard engine splintering my dreams,
I mean more prolific in breeding than

big-mouthed thunder, the old sea-rovers.
The “other place” never seemed to me com-
plete, here is the fellowship of the other
orienteers in front of the oldland stream.

It is just like a furnace, a man advanced
in life, synonymous with father or mother.


Pets are in highest demand with non-persons,
best for woodcock shooting, norfolk suits—
a right is a no-right, in opposition to all other
churches and chapels. I think in a few years

the people should increase to a notable no.
The root of dandelion being cut in November,
the first use of numbered leaves, the bird
living on wild nutmeg, a great bed of now-

existing shells: a hundred francs goes no-
where these days—by those surprising nods
of the poles a dead sort of a dinner. We all
collected nori, the seaweed along the beach.

Now the police are away, I insist upon hear-
ing, there are some gaps in the clay material.