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Judith Khan Memorial Poetry Prize



Verse

Aaisha Salman

Written by
Aaisha Salman

Aaisha Salman is currently studying South Asian Studies at Columbia. She is a liberal arts graduate from Karachi, Pakistan and her work has appeared in Parentheses Literary Journal, and in the anthology I'll Find My Way, Oxford University Press, 2014.

        
      
       
            
              

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Tenants of the Crevice


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“who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns”
– Audre Lorde, “A Litany for Survival”

 

Jugaar (noun): makeshift, stopgap
Inhabiting is work: the way insects make-home inside the wear and tear of walls. I think
somewhere a cavalry in survival keeps digging bitterly into dirt

in sing-song aur raaj karegi khalq-e-khuda

and their voices steep steadily into silence

hum dekhenge hum dekhenge

Hope is not an imposter it is just pirated: a cheap photocopy intent on participating in the
Saying and the dirt-diggers say, of course we know. Do not interrupt this death-bound
simulation


Pakram-pakrayi (verb, noun): Catch-and-catching, being-caught and bringing about caughtness

Do you think we live in the mouth of poems: the way a name briefly touches language and then

it’s gone.

Qs can mean ear-cleansing tools

or community. Depends on the ear. On record we remember to be incomplete now you see me,

now did-you-really?

Jugaar (noun): finagle, manage, wangle
It’s more practical: the way we form as smoke / only halves and quarters / making sufficient
room for misreading. I dust off love like an old cloth and then gently draw through residue

which is also adrenaline of the gentle being on-the-runs of love worlds/world loves


It isn’t on film this stuff: you don’t even expect it and empty school grounds suddenly erupt in
young girls of rehearsal belting raag piercing through tradition. I held my camera shakily behind
a jaali so as to collect sound and forgo image. The recording is scrappy desperate and imageless


an ethics of confusion: aaj rang hay! aye maa rang hay ri! There is no time to weep at this
unprecedented gift of femme kalaam announcing colour hailing mother
brief parody: occupation of narrative wearing costume then breaking

Character as teachers singers choirs wivesdaughtersmothers and not-sons of the interruption


Like Sappho Bot finding unintended audience online: Pakistani cisboy singing sappho clueless
in thinking the verses are for him / but making them part of hummed air. I don’t correct him

2015, 2017, 2018: each year a country each year a legalization. Even India. For us there is
makeshift joy

the psychedelics of masti secretively encoded in between around against/in the yawn of/in the
break of/behind the back of writ of the state

No matter. We make-do / make-love in the muffling

 

******

 
Aaisha Salman is the winner of the 2019 Judith Khan Memorial Poetry Prize (link) for her poem Tenants of the Crevice. Read our blog post for the winner announcement (link).

 

 

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