[from Agha Shahid Ali's Call Me Ishmael Tonight: A book of Ghazals, Norton, 2003]
The pure pain with which he recognizes angels
has left him without cures among the dreamless angels.
The dawn looked over its shoulder to ask the naked night
for the new fashions in which it could dress angels.
Is it that I've been searching in the wrong places for you?
That your address is still Los Angeles, Angels?
The air is my vinegar, I, its perfect preserve --
Watch how I'm envied by Heaven's meticulous angels.
In Inferno the walls mirror brocades and silks.
Satan's legions -- though fallen -- are, nonetheless, angels.
"Let there be Light," He said, "And the music of the spheres."
To what tune does one set The Satanic Verses, Angels?
I won't lift, off the air, any wingprints, O God --
Hire raw detectives to track down the mutinous angels.
All day we call it wisdom but then again at night
it's only pain as it comes from the darkness, Angels!
Why is God so frightened of my crazy devotion to Him?
Does he think that, like Satan, I too will finesse angels?
Do they dye their wings after Forever, tinting their haloes,
aging zero without Time, those androgynous angels?
You play innocence so well, with such precision, Shahid:
You could seduce God Himself, and fuck the sexless angels.
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