Poetic Response: Nomadic Dream-Jumpers


Slaughter of the Innocents
Slaughter of the Innocents


Salgado - Kisangani, Zaire, 1997
Salgado – Kisangani, Zaire, 1997


Nomadic Dream-Jumpers

They began chanting with both feet,
wandering lands, marking by song
where they have been. That became theirs

 wherever they could not stay,
because nobody owned the earth
until buried beneath it. Maps

fixed arbitrary borders whose signs
changed when feet stayed the same.Salgado7
They knew each other by different names

and traded things for other things,
until they decided to gather
into a book that recorded

their songs — such was this belief
in certainty, forcing malleable
ink stains to solidify, strokes

Overburdened commuter train in Bombay (1995)
Overburdened commuter train in Bombay (1995)

taming nature to immutability.
Then they closed the book. They said,
“Nothing more may now be added;

there is already enough that we do not
understand.” So began footnotes, parsing
whose place in a sentence could alter

shamen becoming scribes becoming scholars,
folding into leaves of the sacred
their lives and interpretations of life.

The book that was in one tongueNew-Arrival-Sebastiao-Salgado-Churchgate-Station
was transformed into another
and sounds once again were freed

to mean whatever was needed.
By now each had lost the knack
of remembering without a text,

so when the book in their hands
the desert incinerated, they were lost.




Pope Francis calls on all Catholics to take in refugee families!
Pope Francis calls on all Catholics to take in refugee families.



The Peshawar-based musical duo Ismail and Junaid, recently unveiled the video of their new song Pakhwa. The lyrics of the song are based on the poetry of the famous Pashtun poet Ameer Hamza Khan Shinwari.

***The images adjacent to the poem are from Sebastiao Salgado’s Migrations.***
Find out more about his work by clicking the image below.

5 thoughts on “Poetic Response: Nomadic Dream-Jumpers

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