Poetry from Saad Ali

Life as a Virgule ‘n Caesura

for N. Karfakis, G. Kokkinidis, and C. Batmanghlich

after Philosopher and Poet by Giorgio de Chirico (Italy), 1916 C.E.

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
– S. Kierkegaard
(excerpt from Journals and Papers (1843))

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.
– F. W. Nietzsche
(excerpt from Twilight of the Idols)

   I	The Virgule: Either/Or

Either an Adapa (Adam) to the all-knowing Ea (Elahi); Or a covenant-breaking Judas to one Christ (one the cross) / Either with a silver spoon in the mouth (devoid of dichotomies ‘n dilemmas); Or abandoned on a raft en route to a Pharoh’s spouse / Either the golden throne in a king’s/queen’s court at a palace; Or a joking jester hired to amuse the populace in the town centre / Either an epic with the protagonist being rescued from an eternal torment; Or a ghazal summersaulting in a poet’s throat / Either a blue-tale in hieroglyphs on the pyramids’ walls; Or a spirited-eye painted on the noses of the triremes / Either a newly-hatched chick reduced to fodder for ants on the forest’s floor; Or the twins suckled and raised by a she-wolf, Lupa / Either the cipher engraved on a clay ‘n stone ‘n emerald ‘n glass tablet; Or a bead of ink on the nib of a scribe’s quill pen. 

   II	The Caesura: – Hyphenated

   The sunyata took to an intermission – some portion of the debris took to the milky way ‘n sun ‘n earth ‘n moon.1

   A juvenile boy ‘n girl are all liberated, id est, devoid of hunger ‘n intimacy ‘n what ‘ve you – lo ‘n behold, a gleam from an apple dangling from a branch of a tree.

   Irtiqa is an aficionado of “slow ‘n steady wins the race” – hold thy horses, one man has devised a wheel ‘n A.I. ‘n more as the catalyst.2

   The schools of pink salmon ‘n rainbow trout follow the pulsations of the river – a hibernation-eloping brown grizzly bear steals a micro stock from the overflow.

   The horse ‘n cattle ‘n sheep are all sophists in the cherry blossom-‘n-beebalm-laden fields – the multithemed snowflakes in billions ‘n gazillions terraform the territory into a tabula rasa. 

   The folklorists have the camp ‘n bonfire all prepared for the twinkle-twinkle little night – an empiricist in a laboratory somewhere has the lenses of the microscope cleaned to debunk the age-old pompous oratory of (anthropomorphic) Devas ‘n Devis.

   One Vyasa’s convinced of conceiving a magnum opus in an ovulating thalamus – one Ganesha’s > keen on a game of hide ‘n seek.3


1. Sunyata (Sanskrit): Emptiness/voidness/nothingness. In the classical Hindu(ism) teachings, ‘Sunyata’ is a school of thought that advocates a non-intrinsic nature of things/phenomena, i.e., things/phenomena are subject to the phenomenon of flux (change/transmutability).
2. Irtiqa (ارتقا) (Arabic): Evolution.
3. Vyasa and Ganesha – the epic of Mahabharata: According to a Hindu legend, Ganesha (Lord of Wisdom) only agreed to being a scribe to Vyasa on one condition: no breaks while dictating the said epic.

Stairways ‘n Catwalks

for Nikolas, George, E. Rahim, and L. Jacobs

after Homage to a poet (Omaggio a un poeta) by Giorgio Barbarelli da Castelfranco (aka Giorgione) (Italy), 1477–1510  C.E.

We have two lives, and the second begins when we realise we only have one.
– Confucius

The pen is mightier than the sword!
– An English Proverb


‘Round the rear end of the red-bricked bungalow,
the (fire escape) stairway spirals like the Fibonacci sequence
– 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, … – bearin’ thirteen odd stainless-steel steps.

‘N < thirteen odd thousand years or so ago,
our very own Dear Mother Earth took to walkin’ the catwalk
to step away from one long age of the ice age (aka Younger Dryas)
      – like a feisty protagonist of an epic poem –
‘n fashion for us, homo sapiens, a canopy to breathe ‘n breed under.


‘N we fashioned all manner of Stairways ‘n Catwalks
– one or two odd Zeuses ‘n Heracleses ‘n Helens ‘n Achilleses 
‘n Medusas ‘n Perseuses ‘n Rostams ‘n Sohrabs ‘n Ramas ‘n Ravanas.


‘N I walk the catwalk scrollin’ up the steep anti-slip steps
– which feels like strollin’ up an elongated perron
to one Buddha’s Temple in the Tibetan Himalayas –
to arrive before a wooden cedarwood door on the 2nd floor
– which makes you want to pronounce افتح يا سمسم –*
I push the copper handle down,
‘n the reverberations from my plantigrade + digitigrade footsteps
have already set the pull tab on the zipper off rattling
of my half-opened black mamba-black cowhide leather postman bag’s
– which projects a notion of a rattle on the tail of a rattlesnake’s–
‘n unlike the venom from one mamba’s or rattlesnake’s mouth,
the verbosity from one mighty fiery dragon’s mouth
– occasionally hibernating inside the belly of my زنبیل –**
is far more intoxicating and indelible than any kinds of poisons
from one or two solenoglyphous or proteroglyphous or opisthoglyphous fangs!


‘N the past twelve odd thousand years or so
of the red blood cells + white blood cells duo
has rather rendered my intellectual-metabolism
immune to [its] persevering strikes ‘n bites—
‘n I grab hold of it by its ovulating throat
– with my pulsating thumb + forefinger + middle finger;
which feels like one Horace pronouncing “Carpe Diem” –
‘n make [its] شہ رگ take to walkin’ the catwalk-of-words***
to pay an homage to one Confucius
in the spiral of 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, … – thirty-four+ odd lines!


* افتح يا سمسم (Iftah Ya SimSim): Open Sesame.
** زنبیل (Zambiil): Bag.
*** شہ رگ (Sheh Rag): Jugular vein.
Le Voyage

for Nashwa Y. Butt & Umme A. Ali

after Road Trip in the Woody by David Michael Hinnebusch (U.S.A.), 2017 C.E.

     The Green Belt

     He pulls the car over; too fast and too close to the green belt (wide dividing strip) in the middle of the dual carriage-boulevard. The car/rikshaw (tuk-tuk) drivers, motor/cyclists et alia become instantly occupied in their heads (the ones that sit on their shoulders) with making-a-meal out of the sudden break on his part. Time has come to go, pack your bags, hit the open road; our hearts just won’t die, it’s the trip, keeps us alive. … So many miles; so many miles, he turns the volume all the way down on “The Trip” by Still Corners to zero. 

     The Qalam

     He hysterically starts looking for a qalam (fountain) pen) inside all the immediately visible and accessible storage compartments – the glove box, cup holders, ashtray holder, door side pockets, storage trays on the dashboard, et cetera. But, there’s no sign of a stylo ((fountain) pen) or a pencil. Swearing follows, heedfully: “GOD DAMN IT – I curse this bastard habit of relying too much on the lead and ink and paper! I CURSE IT!” The heavy shower has stopped, but his mind has left the windshield wipers waving at him. The out-of-the-blue cloudy and rainy post meridiem forces him to reminisce about the drizzles and streets and walks and drives in Leicester, UK; the evocations render le voyage (the trip) into a grey day.

     Miniature Automata

     As a last resort, he takes to the micro keyboard on his Samsung smart phone (he’s a bit old school in that regard; not a great aficionado of the modern technologies and gadgets and IT): “… . And sometimes, the muse does transmute into a rather petit jealous/possessive toddler; she WANTS it all for herself – as an infant on breast-feeding WANTS both boobs for him/herself! … And as such an instant manifests, life – of an artist/poet – comes to an utter halt; and then, the power of co/m/motion-in-inertia takes control of every facet of life; and as such a moment transpires, … .” Midway through recording the aphorism (in the default proprietary Notes application), the phone battery dies on him. The phone charger (with a detachable USB cable) and/or the portable power bank is not to be found anywhere either—neither on the car floor, nor in his tan leather mini briefcase, or in the shalwar/kameez (trouser/shirt) pockets. “The day before, before taking this vahana (ride) to the TOYOTA Service Station, I’d removed all the petit accessories – just in case, the servers couldn’t resist the temptation of nicking my property (a commonplace here – stealing),” he’s solved the l'énigme (the riddle). Swearing follows, mindfully: “GOD DAMN IT – these good for nothin’ miniature automata! I CURSE ‘EM!”

     Oyster & Pearl

     He hits a petit lever ‘round the right side of the wheel console and a petit blinking amber light (in the front and the back) instantly puts him back on the road; and he rushes – oh, he KNOWS how to RUSH – as if a rabbit desperate to get to his ovulating mate. All the while, he works hard to retain the musings in his head (the one that sits on his shoulders) – as an oyster keeps a pearl safe in its belly – until he reaches the 7/11 (a local equivalent of TESCO Express) at TOTAL Parco – he urgently borrows a cheap notepad and a cheap ballpoint pen from the server at the checkout counter, and resumes securing the dictation from la muse: “…, the matter/s-of-rumination/s transcends one’s intellectual/cognitive realm; one’s ‘free will’ even cannot come-forth as a redeemer; one’s only left with the choice of bearing witness to the tapestry of an orgy of alphabet/s and memories unfolding before one’s very sentient being!”

(Wordcount: 149)

Saad Ali (b. 1980 C.E. in Okara, Pakistan) has been brought up and educated in the United Kingdom and Pakistan. He is a poet-philosopher and literary translator. His new collection of poems is titled Owl Of Pines: Sunyata (AuthorHouse, 2021). He has translated selected ekphrases by Lorette C. Luzajic into Urdu – compiled into a chapbook, Lorette C. Luzajic: Selected Ekphrases: Translated into Urdu (2023). He is a regular contributor to The Ekphrastic Review. His work has been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology. His poems (after Amin Rehman) have been showcased at an Art Exhibition, Bleeding Borders, curated at the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie in Alberta, Canada. Some of his influences include: Vyasa, Homer, Ovid, Attar, Rumi, Nietzsche, Freud, Jung, and Tagore. He enjoys learning different languages, travelling by train, and exploring cities/towns on foot. To learn further about his work, please visit saadalipoetry.com, or  www.facebook.com/owlofpines.