“Home” to Pakistan – Poem Reprint – Haiku Laziness and Out of Africa

One of the advantages of having had a blog for going on 8 years and switching platforms and even emphases from time to time, is that one can emulate the scribe that Jesus describes in Matthew 13:52 and bring out ‘new treasures as well as the old,’ only in this case that order is inverted as I bring out the old–you can be the judge of its treasure-worthiness. It is true that such sampling of an earlier version might dilute the current “brand” of the blog a bit, but The Dassler Effect is nothing if not a little mixed up šŸ™‚

Today on a whim, I priced tickets to Pakistan, not because I am going any time soon, but just out curiosity. I have not been since 1993, and simply thinking of going produces a complex set of emotions. It will happen some time, and hopefully sooner rather than 20 years further on.

Below are a series of poems I wrote in 1994 which have appeared on the blog before and reflect on my last trip to Pakistan. I am very pleased with some of the imagery here, but some needs work and editing.

In truth, I am rather poetically lazy. That is one reason I love haiku so much šŸ˜‰ Though, I love that form also for its own beautiful simplicity and power, and I know when I have written a truly worthy one and when I have merely gone through the paces. Free verse is rather harder for me, and sonnets harder still, but one day I will try to give those forms a go again.

Partially I have to do this because there are some things one simply cannot capture in a haiku. For example, this weekend I was unpacking my mother’s china, some of which she bought piece by piece from a bank in Illinois, moved in barrels on a ship to Pakistan where she was to marry my father, which was most recently in my father’s house in Illinois before he died, and now is in my brand new house. Surely that deserves a poem, with the interweaving of themes from another story of a woman ensconced in and in love with a land not her own– Baroness Blixen’s story in Out of Africa, which my mother was deeply drawn to even though their outlooks on the world were quite different. I tell you, it could be a great poem, but it will surely take some work…

In the meantime, it’s haiku and photos and reprints for you (oh, and the odd essay).


lambert international

a thousand phrases out of context
sit in these padded chairs
dreaming of verbs
to be and do

a thousand islands float
detached from mainlands
forming these strange archipelagos
these strange bays and headlands

and soon i too will float
trailing a muddy wake
streaming back
diffusing with the distance
into clear blue

soon i too
ripped from my context
will struggle just to be
bleeding my dependencies

nocturne in limbo, 30,000 feet

this strange stillness soothes
the unending muted roar of engines
envelopes and subdues me
like the roaring of a monsoon on a tin roof
remembered in warm sleep

this stillness seeps
through this inch thick oval of glass
from the moon filled space beyond
that holds separate two seas of black

and i hang in between
and ache for each

the stars for which no earthly metaphor will do
burn their coldness into me
and something
some longing for eternity
quivers and answers
deep unto deep

a cozier vastness beckons me
the desert blackness exhales middle-eastern heat
and in the galaxies of light
that island its entirety
lovers softly sleep
ensconced each in each


i stand and breathe
my last few gulps of air duty-free
shuffling up the aisle of this airlock
between atmospheres

soon i will be complete
torn into a duality
that appears unseamed in separate hemispheres
that tears each time they meet
at the touching of my sleeping eastern flesh with east

i walk from the door
and then Iā€™m me
in ways that i have not been for years
as thick warm eastern air enfolds me
and fills my lungs
displacing stale indifference
and leaves me coughing
amidst these warm embraces
invading my protesting western space
amidst these cluttered streets
breaking life into me
more honest and complete

it may take some time to breathe


2 thoughts on ““Home” to Pakistan – Poem Reprint – Haiku Laziness and Out of Africa

  1. so very descriptive Neil and perfectly communicated – the two halves of you, one asleep until it is woken up by breathing in the very air of Pakistan. I found the imagery of looking out the plane window very evocative. It took me back to many a night flight, that still moment when everyone else snores oblivious and we sneak a peek at the cold atmosphere above and the world that radiates heat below. Would you mind if I reposted your poem on my travel blog and redirected people back here to read more?


    • Little Gumnut, thanks so much for your comment. It is very cool, though also somewhat to be expected :), that you understand it so well. Please do feel to repost this. It would be my honor.


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