I’m very pleased to have this poem published on The Stare’s Nest today. The poem is dedicated to Talha Ahsan, a British-born poet and translator with Asperger’s syndrome. In 2012, having already been held in detention without charge in the UK for 6 years, he was extradited to the US – without any prima facie evidence being provided to a British court – and held in solitary confinement in a supermax prison awaiting trial. I started writing to him in prison last year after I met his brother Hamja at a poetry event, where he read one of Talha’s extraordinary poems. Thankfully, Talha finally returned to the UK as a a free man last autumn, following a ‘time served’ sentence from the US judge, who in her judgement rejected much of the prosecution evidence and stated that Talha was not and never had been a threat. If you’re not familiar with his case, there is more here: http://freetalha.org/about/
‘I will experience what very few ever do in this world: life after death.’
Letter from Talha Ahsan, Northern Correctional Institution, Connecticut, 28 May 2014
To experience life after death
is to hold your face up to rain,
each drop soft-sharp, soul-piercing.
To breathe in air vibrant with fumes
and sweat and spice, the dancing particles
of adjacent lives.
To walk in unbounded space
along streets and lanes,
through parks, across commons.
To walk until your feet bleed
and your ears shimmer with every
newly-heard city sound.
To lie on a bench and feast
on London’s heavenly sky.
To sleep again on sheets
washed by maternal hands,
smoothed tight against nightmare.
In your own time tell
how it was
how it is
in your own words
in your own
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