Mimi Khalvati: Five Poems

Mimi Khalvati

Mimi Khalvati has published six collections with Carcanet Press, including Selected Poems (2000) and The Chine (2002). She is the founder of The Poetry School, where she teaches in London, and was the Coordinator from 1997 to 2004. He most recent collection, The Meanest Flower (Carcanet, 2007), was  a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, a Financial Times Book of the Year and was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize. In 2006, she received a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
On a Line from Forough Farrokhzad
It had rained that day. It had primed a world
with gold, pure gold, wheatfield, stubble and hill.
It had limned the hills as a painter would,
an amateur painter, but the hills were real.
It had painted a village lemon and straw,
all shadow and angles, cockerel, goats and sheep.
It had scattered their noises, bleats and blahs,
raising a cloud, a white dog chasing a jeep.
It had travelled through amber, ochre, dust
and dust the premise of everything gold,
dust the promise of green. Green there was
but in the face of a sun no leaf could shield.
It had rained that day. It was previous,
previous as wind to seed. O wild seed,
as those words proved. ‘The wind will carry us’
bad ma ra khahad bord – and it did.
from The Meanest Flower © 2007
Forough Farrokhzad: foremost Iranian woman poet (1935–67). Her poem, ‘The Wind Will Carry Us’ (bad ma ra khahad bord) inspired Abbas Kiarostami’s film of the same name, which in turn suggested the imagery for this poem.
Dedicated to Aamer Hussein.
Ghazal: It’s Heartache
When you wake to jitters every day, it’s heartache.
Ignore it, explore it, either way it’s heartache.
Youth’s a map you can never refold,
from Yokohama to Hudson Bay, it’s heartache.
Follow the piper, lost on the road,
whistle the tune that led him astray: it’s heartache.
Stop at the roadside, name each flower,
the loveliness that will always stay: it’s heartache.
Why do nightingales sing in the dark?
Ask the radif, it will only say ‘it’s heartache’.
Let khalvati, ‘a quiet retreat’,
close my ghazal and heal as it may its heartache.
from The Meanest Flower © 2007
I have landed
as if on the wing
of a small plane.
It is a song I have
landed on that barely
feels my weight.
Sky is thick with wishes.
Regrets fall down
like rain.
Visit me.
I am always in
even when the place
looks empty,
even though the locks
are changed.
from The Chine © 2002 
No one is there for you. Don’t call, don’t cry.
No one is in. No flurry in the air.
Outside your room are floors and doors and sky.
Clocks speeded, slowed, not for you to question why,
tick on. Trust them. Be good, behave. Don’t stare.
No one is there for you. Don’t call, don’t cry.
Cries have their echoes, echoes only fly
back to their pillows, flocking back from where
outside your room are floors and doors and sky.
Imagine daylight. Daylight doesn’t lie.
Fool with your shadows. Tell you nothing’s there,
no one is there for you. Don’t call, don’t cry.
But daylight doesn’t last. Today’s came by
to teach you the dimensions of despair.
Outside your room are floors and doors and sky.
Learn, when in turn they turn to you, to sigh
and say: You’re right, I know, life isn’t fair.
No one is there for you. Don’t call, don’t cry.
Outside your room are floors and doors and sky.
from The Chine © 2002

Picking Raspberries with Mowgli
It was when he leant close to me,
his little naked torso, brown and thin,
reaching an arm into the cage
of raspberries, that I snatched a kiss.
The raspberries smelled of rosemary
and among them grew the odd sweetpea.
Do you know why they’re called sweetpeas?
Mowgli asked – No, I said, why?
Because look, he said, fingering
a thin pale pod, this is the fruit
and this is the flower and inside the pod
are peas. Mowgli looked inside things.
Inside the sieve, a baby spider
trailing a thread his finger trailed
up, over, under the mounting pile
he prodded. Inside the fruit, the seed.
Don’t pick the ones with the white bits,
Mowgli ordered, they taste horrid.
Sun tangled in the row of canes,
cobwebs blurred the berries. Mowgli
progressed to the apples – small
bitter windfalls. I’m going to test them,
he said, for smashes. And again,
I’m going to test them for bruises. Mowgli
throwing apples against the wall,
missing the wall, high up in the air;
Mowgli squatting, examining
for the smallest hint of decay
and chucking them if they failed the test,
healthy raspberries; Mowgli
balancing on a rake, first thing
in the morning, grinning shyly.
Read Mimi Khalvati’s author biography on Carcanet’s website.
Order The Meanest Flower (Carcanet, 2007).
Order The Chine (Carcanet, 2002).
Visit Mimi’s website.
Read Mimi Khalvati’s interview with Vicki Bertram.
Read Mimi Khalvati’s interview with Mary MacRae.
Read Mimi Khalvati’s interview with Christina Patterson.
Visit Mimi’s author page at Contemporary Writers.
Listen to Mimi reading her poems at the Poetry Archive.

2 thoughts on “Mimi Khalvati: Five Poems

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Mimi Khalvati: Five Poems « peony moon -- Topsy.com

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