March 4, 2016

Three Poems By Sultana Raza: "Stoned Arias", "Expunging Spell", "Interpreting Notes"

Of Indian origin, Sultana Raza has an M.A. in English Literature. Her articles have appeared in Flick Feast (UK), Sound on Sight (USA), the Peter Roe Series (Tolkien Society UK), Le Jeudi, the Wort and paperjam in English and French.  
Sultana Raza’s poems have appeared in Ancient Heart Magazine (Australia), India Currents (USA), London Grip (UK), Literary Gazette (USA),  Caduceus (Ed. Yale University, USA), Beyond Bree, (an American MENSA newsletter), the Peter Roe Series, (Tolkien Society UK), The Whirlwind Review (USA), Silver Leaves Journal #5 (Canada), Muse India, and The New Verse News. Recently, more have been published in Catch and Release (Columbia’s online Journal). More are to appear in Allegro. About:   Facebook:


One was obsessed with opera,
The other with castles.

One with women,
The other with swans.

One thought it his right to receive,
The other his duty to give.

One exploited others,
The other was exploited by the one.

One dressed melodies extravagantly,
The other himself.

One rode high on arrogance,
The other on sleds.

One prided himself as a genius,
The other shrank as an eccentric.

One thrived on creating havoc,
The other bore scars of brutal discipline.

One built with notes,
The other with stone.

One got fame,
The other notoriety.

Though both ruler and composer,
Were thought to be unbalanced,
Their passion played out into
Enduring structures,
Inspiring artists
Into streams of obsession
For centuries to come.


If it please the court,
I will represent myself,
as no dry-boned lawyer
could possibly understand
what I have been through.

Your Honour,
I seek compensation from
Mr Orfes-Kore
for moral, material,
emotional, and spiritual damages,
as I have lost my job,
my house, children, rabbits,
conch collection, self-confidence,
all due to his
rhythmically nuanced compositions.

I couldn’t go to work
because I was
hypnotized by his
trance-like score.

in the interests
of public mental health,
the main body of his work
should be banned
from being broadcast
from all known and future media
for all time to come
with immediate effect.

In order to facilitate
my reinsertion
into the mundane
world of work,
I request that the State pay
all related expenses
for cleaning my mind
of the remains
of his repetitive notes.

That is, erasing only those
parts of my memory
that pertain to his music,
or I cannot guarantee
being obsession free,
should I find a way
of having access
to his transcendently divine score.
that helps one sublimate
the tedious business
of the going through
the repetitive motions
of the dreary daily grind.


This is the law and thou shalt abide by it
This how thy life should be
Happy, light, superficial

keep up appearances
as life has no great surprises
till the first big overture
which takes one deeper
into unknown, unsuspected swirls
a maze of gorgeous tunnels,
labyrinths that become narrower
till a sudden twist takes us back
on the long, upward path

frogs jumping on keys
full of mirth and laughter
until the butterflies take over
to trill the notes
that soon give way to
a purposeful wood-pecker’s beak

wasted beauty
lamenting its ruin
in the reflecting sunset
with tears that drip as pearls

Thou shalt not err
From the strait and narrow
For thou hast not been given
Enough room to do that

speeding runner out of breath,
tries to catch up with time
graceful ballerina twirls
to accompanying leap
bends down to reach,
slowly and sinuously

tension as the two reach out
towards each other
faltering fingers
flickering eyes
till a thrill urges them forward
so that two thrills become stronger
as the trills merge
quietly afraid to raise vibration
until shaken by a strong wave
the vibrations split
into give and take
voice and echo
brimming into a climax
till all slows and calms down
to its previous state

young boy shaking like a leaf inside,
water trembling in a glass,
heart palpitating,
till the boy goes into action,
the trembling swallowed up
in confident fingers,
translated to

Here, follow this way
And all will be easy for you
All you have to do is follow it
And the stars will come down within reach,
I promise!

church bells in wind
empty, town square swept clean
old man reassured by
leaves rustling underfoot
at the right time of year

Let’s celebrate for,
We have followed the way
And can rejoice for
We see that it has led to where
It was promised to have led

crystalline stalagmites
emitting clear sounds
striking stalactites
with joyful reunion
rolling away to high levels

We are now sure
That this is the way
And happy we are to have followed it
Do you agree my son?
Blessed I am, Father.
Let the heavens rejoice and applaud!

so ends the rendering of
Moussorgski’s Tableau d’une exposition
inspired by Viktor Hartmann’s paintings

calm, soothing,
rolling over harmoniously
to those listening with a keen ear
tuned in via the radio

(in a little Surrey hamlet
to the old codger
meditating on the sun
still high in Scandinavia
to the aficionado
in a wheel-chair in Beyren
whose silent kitchen resonates
with the clapping
alive from warmed hands
at the Conservatoire
whose ears accompanied ours
on this tumultuous hurtling
through musical notes).

~Sultana Raza

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