#tbt: Kazim Ali, “Bright Felon Deleted Scene 3”

This week’s selection for Throw Back Thursday is “Bright Felon Deleted Scene 3” from Kazim Ali’s collection Sky Ward (2013). It contains its own “throwback,” a reference to Bright Felon, Ali’s 2009 book.


Ali reinvents possibilities for the personal lyric and narrative in his writing. While in Bright Felon, he works through exile and criminality, Sky Ward weaves a story of mythology with the daily trials of life that we all know intimately. The lines between the ethereal and mundane are blurred.

This poem, from Sky Ward, is a “Deleted Scene” of sorts, from Bright Felon.

Bright Felon Deleted Scene 3

Amelia looking at photographs of my vacation says, “There are no
people in them!”

There are only mountains, clouds, empty streets, two pictures of
my back.

Unconfined in silence the sun is eclipsed.

In Dante’s Hell, him with my name is split neck to nave and stuffed
with maggots and grubs.

“You’re turning your back on people,” says Amelia.

But on the subway I steal glances at your ear, your cheek, your chin,
when I think you are not looking.

It’s not true, it’s to true. Your mouth, your hand, your ankle,
your thigh.

I am an inferno of fallen creatures, all wriggling for the light.

KAZIM ALI is a poet, essayist, fiction writer, and translator. His books of poetry include The Far Mosque, The Fortieth DayBright Felon, and Sky Ward. Ali is an associate professor of creative writing and comparative literature at Oberlin College and teaches in the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine.