Series Editor - Jim Bennett for The Poetry Kit - www.poetrykit.org

You can join the CITN mailing list at -
http://www.poetrykit.org/pkl/index.htm and following the links for Caught in the Net.

Submissions for this series of Featured poets is open, please see instruction in afterword at the foot of this mail.



What is it that freezes the rush of my blood

through organic channels beneath my skin?

Wise people could say that I am thinking

of something ominous in wait; the fate of the package

becoming synonymous with life.

A flat denial ain’t worth the toil in waiting.


                 from; Waiting for a Package by Sofiul Azam







Waiting for a Package

Light of the World

Relief at St. Martin’s Island

Songs of a Gynecologist


To Robert Lowell


In Praise of Clichés

To Osip Mandelstam

Seven Rough Sketches on Smoothness




1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Sofiul Azam


Educated in English Literature at Rajshahi University, Sofiul Azam has authored three books of poetry Impasse (2003), In Love with a Gorgon (2010), Safe under Water (2014) and edited Short Stories of Selim Morshed (2009). His poems have appeared in Poetry Salzburg Review, Prairie Schooner, The Journal, Orbis, Erbace, The Cannon’s Mouth, Forward Press, Deep South, Catamaran, Postcolonial Text, Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts, among others and some are anthologized in Journeys, Poets Against War, Poetry for Charity Volume 2. Now he lives with his wife and son in Dhaka and teaches English at Victoria University of Bangladesh.






Waiting for a Package


    (for Linda Rogers)


Be patient. The mail is slow. – from her e-mail



Waiting for a package from far-off Canada,

I remain pretentiously patient in my room,

windows closed on all sides, remembering

my mother’s advice to me on the phone:

Be patient about the way futile thoughts
out of nowhere come up crowding into your mind
and the way the victims of a promise wait for Godot.

Yet anxiety like poison courses through my veins.


Something other than what seems normal;

not my mere waiting for a package

traveling lands and the wide blue waters

from hands through to other duty-bound hands,

nor after scrutinizing like a garment expert

the fabric of that virtue I cannot yet master,

like lifting up one’s eyes to grace in the sky,

I will have a facile win over the restlessness

endowed I think since my precocious birth.


Someone says restless freaks burn like coal

inside a brick-kiln furnace (isn’t it a burning inferno?)

for nightmares invented by their flights of fancy

spread out by their mercantile policy,

thought-oriented and useless. Yes,

all this is nothing but rubbish, a load of crap

stinking throughout the alleys of my mind,

though I try to train it: be patient; the mail is slow.


What is it that freezes the rush of my blood

through organic channels beneath my skin?

Wise people could say that I am thinking

of something ominous in wait; the fate of the package

becoming synonymous with life.

A flat denial ain’t worth the toil in waiting.


Always, I see my untrained mind wavering,

lost among the bustle of promises not kept:

shining promises turned into monsoon clouds.




Light of the World


    (for Seamus Heaney)


Seamus, you Glob’s cool champion
of feeling into The Bog People,
of an archaeologist’s digging
into the long frozen bogmud,

into the fossilized skeletons
not yet pulverized of so intent
the convivial as never found
in the bogland; in civilized

outrage you see the result
is an increment of the puzzles,
big lies of a history of forbearance
and the ethics of punishment.


And I am, too, a chronicler
of Nurjahan born in the lush
tropics, our ‘light of the world’
and lusty preachers’ ‘little

adulteress’ sunk up to her neck
in the cold soil – the target
of curses sprinkled unlike rain,
of stones and the crude lash

a tool of the remunerated
chiefs only appeased by lust
in private. The trial she stood
for in the shower of light

was tempered by their fury
and of a strict kind others’
acknowledged indifference. Oh,
I’m, too, guilty of my heart.


Just before they flogged her
hard on her ebonized back
and stoned her, she bloomed –
a grassflower with dewy

crystals on its thin petals,
yet to be trampled under feet,
hawkers from house to house;
and the flesh kind of

thickened on every contour
so pulpy water hang on the tip
of every pig’s tongue. Black
emitted such gleams of light.


How perfectly her screams fit
the preachers’ litany a babel
of neophytes and the agnostics
nervy in the salubrious air!

They rushed into a covenant:
nothing ever comes whole
but with another, so does light
with darkness as that

in the grave. It’s the preachers
(the wisest among dung-worms)
who brought out the meaning
off both sides of a coin.

The play is over, the curtain
drawn; and in the decency
of silence we stand emblazoned
with the glaucoma in our eyes.


1. These archaeological truths Seamus Heaney has largely drawn from P. V. Glob’s The Bog People in much of his collection North and ‘Punishment’ is included there.

2. Nurjahan was a village girl who was stoned to death in Bangladesh years back. The meaning of her name is ‘Light of the World’ that becomes the title of this poem.


Relief at St. Martin’s Island


    (for Julia Klimenova)


On St. Martin’s coral-
    beach I watch out
and steady

    my legs ankle-deep
into cold sand and half-
    sunk in the low tide,

intently smoking
    and feeling my eyes
so bloody exhausted

    yet so quick to fish
nibbling and to seagulls
    against the sun’s yolk;

and I wonder
    who knows at what cost
I have kept my eagerness

    for a little relief
when everyone’s awestruck
    lips flick open,

everyone’s so scared
    of a colder current
down the spine –

    of crash and other
terrific jargons of it,
    even though I was

infatuated with ghouls
    irritably eating moribund

    and leaving with me
disasters in the Third Reich.
    Then ruin’s not

yet sprawled its empire
    into my marrow nor flicked
its serpent tongue

    onto my brain the whore –
easy thigh-widening
    for the invading gloom.


Julia, as you walk
    the streets of Moscow,
you might have given

    a thought to things
the way a mother cares
    for her child’s toys –

so inscrutable
    the instruments
of innocence

    for breaking Time’s
insatiable teeth (its jaws
    can’t but swallow

even without teeth):
    and it would be
so unthinkable for sure –

    a dull wonder
that you do not store
    much firewood

in a coldest November
    against the frost impending
on windowpanes.

    Let’s see how relief
grows green branches
    patulous into us.




Songs of a Gynecologist


And what is love if not strange, violent, and destructive?” – John Banville





We broke up while making love,

after quite a number

of quarrels and whirls in doubt. 

My love, my sweetest adulteress,

now busy turning pages of the Kama Sutra

for having an wished-for orgasm with her hub.

(She told me frequently

I’m not having it with him for a couple of years.

I’m glad I was somewhat convinced of my virility!)


And I’m not going to have my old lather

a little warmed. After all, I’ve started hating her –

worth a femme fatale a lot more

treacherous than she was before.




I never preferred anything in between us.

Meaning what, specifically?

No rubber, frankly speaking.

The only exception during her menses.


Now my kids and hers,

now my wife and her hub,

now the rules of society’s prescribed control,

in fact, everything in between us

making our love

a tattered and perforated tarpaulin

in the monsoon rains.




In my office room

when patients and nurses were not there,

she came. We touched each other.

Especially biting her nipples

and even threatening her

What if I bite them off?

Your hub’s mouth will be nipple-less ever after.


Now I’m away from nipples.

I mean hers.




Every time I make love to my wife

I have to say how much I love her,

not letting her suspect the breach of our intimacy,

especially before her orgasm and my discharge.

I’m wondering what my adulteress had to do.


This sort of lying is permitted

as you know my society is

still afraid of God’s vengeance,

in fact, every society even in the West.




I’m a gynecologist. More interested

in politics and even literature. Rather odd, isn’t it?

Every time I check, you know what I mean,

her everything comes to mind.


I still don’t know how to lift up

or part this curtain of her memories.

I need to look at other scenes and concentrate.


I even saw that film And Life Goes On.

No use, whatsoever.




Crying while making love

always had the charm for us.    

(We always did it on a rented bed

or at a friend’s

during his wife’s absence)

It always quickened our orgasm

and intensified

the psychological feel for both of us.


It still holds the thread-ends together

of those intensities.

On our separate beds, certainly.

Weaving once again

something already worn out

in happiness or in despair

should be a weaver’s job. Why is it mine?

I don’t know whether it’s hers as well.




Sona, a name I called her by in intimacy,

literally means Gold in conversational Bengali.

I even thought she was precious

as diamond or platinum. I didn’t know

money is a measurement

of everything Marx includes in his unending list,

and even one of the love I hold above everything.   


I can’t concentrate. So my career will suffer.

I hope she will be as precious as bronze or copper.

The sooner the better.




I wanted to occupy,

(no, no, this word sounds too imperialistic)

better say, to go into every crevice of her mind

and every hole of her body except her anus.


I was always furious when I saw her kids there,

or her apartment, or her extended family,

or even her hub lurking in a corner.

Now I’ve realised the fury

as something signifying nothing.

(Shakespeare still remains quotable,

damn him!)




Once I slapped her in front of my clinic.

Thank God, no one saw

that fucking scene. (I was so sorry

to have known I’m just one like others

supporting this patriarchy!)

I even hit my hand against a wall

in anger.


She cried, partly in helplessness,

but mainly in shame of me

doing it in the first case

and publicly in the second,



Later, in shame, we almost

never mentioned it.    




We bathed together, in a bathtub.

At least once, in our rented suite

at Radisson Water Garden Hotel.

Ah, the feel of her skin on mine in water!


Right after that, we jumped onto our bed

and made love. We slept. We woke.

Kissed each other. Kneaded flesh to extract pleasure.

Made love.

How many times?

We even lost count of them. 


Ah, the feel of skin-on-skin

and that of mind-on-mind,

certainly torturous at least for me now!




Fingering there, you know what part of hers I mean,

in cabs, in parks, in movie theaters.

Grunts of pleasure. The only sound heard.


Even on the phone,

we did it while talking for hours

or texting cryptic messages.

When no one was around,

in our separate bedrooms, letting an increase

in the total income of a cell-phone company.


I’m sorry for the company now.   




Her ex-lover is a presence I hated most,

now all of her


except him the inefficient fucker and lover.

She was his mistress, crazy even for his unlove

and his intricately-wrought neglect.


Her husband was

always the second to count on,

now increasingly becoming her one-and-only.


I’m thinking how my wife will turn out to be so.




Rickshaw bells, traffic horns,

sirens for waking up to eat before and after fasting,

fire brigade’s alarms,

patients’ loud sufferings,

parents’ scolding and wife’s screeching,

my children’s noise of breaking toys or things –

these are what I’ll be passing this life with.

A certainty among uncertainties.


Another is that I won’t hear her talking

in person or on the phone.


My life will be continuously telling

of a life lived alone in the crowd –

yes, ever after.


And my superstitious concern

for this last song, numbered thirteen.

Perhaps I’m wishing to end it thus. 





    for Edward Hirsch



Somersaulting is a curiosity I carry out

    from one place to another. And not

finding the way back to where I felt right

    as one allured by the algebra of this land’s

inscrutabilities, I feel I’m deported

    to an uncertainty, my terra infirma.

And I’m now failing in the language

    I learnt in my mother’s womb. I wish

I drank the wine made of the Lethe waters.


You see there’s nothing out there to do

    with the dull orchestra of familiars

like the moon’s reflection breaking

    into ripples or like guys prattling

about a language I adopted, and everything

    I come across in it, not excepting my body,

which’s given to me nor the conscience

    I’m showing others as mine. I may not

end up around the dot I started from. I melt


the past with today’s salt and sugar for a future.

    Who doesn’t look forward to delights

and regrets blended into pages? I put

    all my adoptions into what’s called

a specimen of the old or what freaks still do

    in the name of poetry. (Finishing a poem is

like having an orgasm, and being simply

    scholarly about it means nothing in the end.)

I hope I’ll get everything sorted out soon. 




To Robert Lowell




Lowell, you don’t live anymore in ancestral New

England but in the prose you thought of as

less cut off from life, somewhat clothed in poetry.

Glory to you embalmer! A part of you still gets


worm-bitten and a bit whitened in your grave.

If exorcised, will you be a latter-day Nostradamus,

given the gift of prophecy like Cassandra’s –

for my time? It’s hell tracing your bumpy move


from theology to history, intimacy, marriages

and the act of your homing in on the present,

which memory reconstructs. Like Hamlet,

you made of the stubborn stuff played mad


instead of cleaning up the mess you did in life,

and that made you mad and shrouded in insanity. 




Like you, I aspire to stretch myself for a looser,

softer prosody. It’s hell conforming to suffocating

verse. Yet you – more read about than read – 

always missed the heart you watched out for


in a country not weather-bound nor an inferno

renewed in your tranquilized fifties. Watching

dividers mess about in the country’s conscience,

you lacked the skills to showcase the patterns.


Things seemed to be happening irreligiously,

scaring your Puritan class of a life with excuses

for a bed on the grass, under no Christened roof,

under a canopy of threatened clouds. The prose


you penned in poetry has been more prosaic

in your successors’ hands, cold as iced-up corpses.






    for Daniel Thomas Moran



Time and time again I’ve said I’m not content

with one thread to make a lusterless dress,

and I need lots of them dyed in colors.

With labor, I’ve made a fine but single thread

to be knitted into others. I’m embarrassingly

flawed without other threads – other languages.

Hard-pressed and suffocating, I feel the sap

of my desire drying out. Water me and you’ll

see me rewarding you with cotton-balls

for your thread. The sooner the better.

Translate me into your voice, which supports

the matching of your space with your time.

I’m not in the least scared of what the dead

warned I might lose in translation. Spread

whatever I say across continents and make me

your overhanging sky. Without you, I’ll be

a sack of seeds not taken out to sprout.

Translate me into winged seeds if you can.

Your language is a key. Open the cell for me.

Let me gain whatever I can out of freedom –

the other name of which is translation.

You can translate me into rain on a place

where the season of drought seems to be endless

for dams being not a river’s bracelets but shackles. 

Translate me into peace on all your killing fields

or into anything to get the air of relaxation,

to drive snowflakes to let the summer in.





In Praise of Clichés


    After reading Octavio Paz’s “No More Clichés”


I’m one of the clichés that has grown up.

– Charles Olson (1910–70)  



I was fresh like everyone else

as I slipped into this world with cries.

I grew up to learn tricks on terrible waters

and how to be persistent on deserts   

like everyone else.

I tilled and watered my mind’s stony fields

and reaped a harvest of clichés like everyone else.

I fell in love with someone

sun-streaked against the window glass,

and soon outgrew it all to fall in love again

like everyone else.

I did things hoping something good would happen

and got iced up instead in showers of curses

like everyone else.

I uttered words over here

as if poison from a spitting cobra

and learnt all about defense like everyone else.

I wilded on, giving the rogues

the clichéd creeps down the spines

like everyone else.


Every pressure

– that you can think of

as suffocation in a cell with no ventilation –

tells on me as it does on everyone else.

I, too, helplessly blurt out,

“What is it to the crow if the bel-fruit is ripe?”

Yet I’m the one rounding up particles  

from this world’s orbit like everyone else.


A cliché,

“attachment” or a token of warmth in other sense,

is something that connects you

– like a river rushing into a sea –

to things you never knew ever existed.

I’d like to warm up to everything else,

even to the idea of detachment.

And the list of what could have surfaced here 

is also a cliché on which other clichés are

constructed like floors of a skyscraper.


On each anniversary of this clichéd world,

I bring a gift of an old cliché

bottled in something new  

like everyone else.

Let’s welcome ourselves with clichés

flying around like confetti.



Note: “What is it to the crow if the bel-fruit is ripe?” is a Bengali proverb.

The shell of a bel-fruit is too hard for a crow to crack.





To Osip Mandelstam


Quietly, quietly read it back to me.” – OM





I read beyond the ribs of what you wrote

in Voronzeh’s biting cold. I wonder

how a silent tilling like yours yielded warmth,

how like a kid crazy for stamps you held on


to it stored in the granary of your notebook –

a strip of sunlight for the icy dampness,

incensed by a drop of musk, and how the salt

in your tears tastes sweeter than sugar.


I don’t have at hand the maps to track

down the symbols you kept at work

like corpuscles in the veins of your elegies –

cryptic scrolls of Copernicus in the hideout.


I wonder what I have as a good match for

the exactness of your exact cries in exile.




Like a mud-skipper conceived in silence,

you knew the tactics of tides – the stages

where you learnt every scary noise

implies a fight. As you towered, yet locked


to the mercy of a place, silence felt a lot

scarier than a devil’s breath on your neck

and left you like a field of ripe rice

beaten up by its freezing hail. At times,


noises alerted you like sirens before a blitz,

but silence on the sly deafened your ears;

and you no longer could hear the winds’

dumb mutterings foretelling a change.


You had the puppet’s strings held by silence,

its fingers chillier than a constrictor’s coils.



Seven Rough Sketches on Smoothness


    for Sara my wife





I’m afraid something shrinks

like a homeless street urchin –

close to hypothermia.

He needs, above anything else,

the care of your warmer, deeper lips.

Take him up from there,

let him feel snug

in the January cold.

Pull him in and feel his pulse beat.

Give him a bit of your inner warmth

and your mineral-rich water

to quench his age-long thirst.

He feels dizzy, though,

prone to retching in the end.

He gives you an indulgence in orgies,

a pleasure in charity at least.




Unforgiving, brute 

as the April sun,

you rain drying-up rays on him.

You melt his dreams’ wax,

meant to be light in the dark.

Come up like a storm

with the disheveled hair

of rain clouds over his arid horizon.

Let him till your arable patch

and you’ll see it

cropping up with golden harvests.

Some could be stored for nostalgia.

Like I said, it will make do

even with a shirker’s

clever excuse you cook up

for your resistance check.




A standing ovation at a coronation –

an outright disturbance

for his blood’s ardent rush

better felt in a warm retreat.

Don’t bother to be a liberal

oblivious of where he’d end up.

Rather be a control freak.

Make him a dog on the leash.

Remember a house is not

a home without a licking dog.

He’s only afraid

of your resistance military build-up

along the border

of your other possibility

worth a thousand showers

on deserts’ arid dunes.




Use him as your constant ploy.

You can expand dominion

as far north as the Terrestrial North

of his heart’s desire.

But be kind enough

to cloak him in your flesh –

far more viable than a fur coat.

Only then can he hope to defy cold

even in Siberia. He doesn’t mind

being of use to you until death

as a guinea pig

for any of your lab experiments.

He doesn’t wish to free himself from you,

he wishes to free himself

only through you

like water through sluice gates. 




He’s a little short on cash,

not on dreams of himself

always ending up in you.

No matter how weird it sounds.

He has seen how city trucks

unload at garbage drop-off sites.

Since then, he’s dreaming of himself

dumped in you for good.

Even his future grave lies in you.

What’s heaven? He doesn’t give

a damn about whatever

gods and prophets tell. Yes,

heaven is the time when he fuels

every inch of you with thrills,

his mouth clutching at nipples

as a drowning man’s straws.




Once on a sudden visit

to his ancestral village

during the monsoon rains,

he saw farmers wade through mud

– weeded-out and buttery –

to sow green seedlings in rows.

Right at the moment,

he thought of planting himself

as a seedling deep inside of you.

I think he might have assumed

he would have

all the nutrients from you.

He’d be the father and the son –

a 21st century chronicler of incest.

He had always been “a scorner of the fields”

as Lamb described by Wordsworth!




He doesn’t like mountains

nor Arctic icebergs.

He starts shivering with cold

even at their slightest mentions

except when you’re mentioned.

Your name is warmth itself.

But by and large he prefers

high grasslands, roundish

and topped off with your nipples

instead of peaks. In fact,

his tongue even waters

at the mention of your breasts –

taut beehives in the Sundarbans. 

But who’s he aspiring after Sanskrit poetry?

An unlikely entry in the Who’s Who

of lusty connoisseurs?





Waiting for a Package

* Published in Orbis (UK) and collected in In Love with a Gorgon (2010)

Light of the World

* Published in Poetry Salzburg Review (Austria) and collected in In Love with a Gorgon (2010)

Relief at St. Martin’s Island

* Collected in In Love with a Gorgon (2010)

Songs of a Gynecologist

* Published in Poetry Salzburg Review (Austria) and collected in Safe under Water (2014)


* Salzburg Review (Austria),and collected in Safe under Water (2014)

To Robert Lowell

 * Published in Prairie Schooner (USA) and collected in Safe under Water (2014)


* Published in Prairie Schooner (USA) and collected in Safe under Water (2014)

In Praise of Clichés

* Collected in Safe under Water (2014)

To Osip Mandelstam

* Collected in Safe under Water (2014)


4 - Afterword

Email Poetry Kit - info@poetrykit.org    - if you would like to tell us what you think. 

We are looking for other poets to feature in this series, and are open to submissions.  Please send one poem and a short bio to - info@poetrykit.org

Thank you for taking the time to read Caught in the Net.  Our other magazine s are Transparent Words ands Poetry Kit Magazine, which are webzines on the Poetry Kit site and this can be found at -