person Sophia Naz, one poem

Sophia Naz is a bilingual poet, essayist, author, editor and translator. She has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, in 2016 for creative nonfiction and in 2018 for poetry. Her work features in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Poetry International Rotterdam, The Adirondack Review, The Wire, Chicago Quarterly Review, Blaze Vox, Scroll, The Daily O, Cafe Dissensus, Guftugu, Pratik, Gallerie International, Coldnoon, VAYAVYA, The Bangalore Review, Madras Courier, etc. Her poetry collections are Peripheries (2015), Pointillism (2017) and Date Palms (2017). Shehnaz, a biography of her mother published from Penguin Random House in November 2019. Her site is



When it smashed in a slammed car door she shed a universe of sound. The bed bled in fluid silence. Blood turned black before the white-coated sanguine said pins and needles baby! Broach the subject already.

To resist a piercing, refusing to capsize a frozen sea of hemoglobin, its plankton of platelets and plasma capsuled in milk-glass stillness. Underneath an icy lake blood red as algae blooms, paralyzing industry. Nothing doing. Thumb your blackened rose as rorschach test, nature of tether.

In time the nail lifts up from the nail bed, stunted crustacean raising a claw as if questioning the miscarriage of trajectories. Dear Hit or Miss did you know that crust comes from kreus, Proto Indo European for anything that begins to harden or freeze, or that the acronym for said origin is PIE which brings us back full circle to crust? Everything depends on dark matter which matters only because it alters the velocity of objects moving through it.

Dug into flesh with a savage tenacity, feral as a meathook, the jagged nail is a gnawing bipolarity, both earth and air, a wing of Lilith, a Kinnari, bird-woman in microcosm. Perhaps this is the original meaning of familiar, pain as a totemic animal, a prehistoric relic perched on her wrist.

By the seventh week she has gone through three hundred and twenty four bandaids, testimony to nail as tail of leviathan catching on any random object and ripping her cuticle. She wonders if monsters were created to give form to inchoate suffering. Many secrets have bitten the nail. Both skin and earth release their confessions under duress. The memory that resists and the memory that propels. Time is the elastic born out of this.

It is a daily autopsy, this obsession with the miniature delta of blue blackness, blood-resin sticking to the nail underside, trapped in it like a ship in a bottle. There are pilgrims in Medina right now, suffering from heat stroke under the awning of such an ill thought canopy. Each night after the half-hearted sterilization of a fat needle she pokes at blood now crud, wincing as the eye of the needle grazes raw thumb ground.

If the heaviest organ of the body is the envelope keeping the mess of our insides from spilling everywhere on the journey, then the thumbnail is a kind of milestone. A measure of the grave yardage of life. In the tactile theater of cinema verité, the thumbnail is a frame of film, flammable as any painted sheen of celluloid, while behind the scenes whorls of swollen underbelly toil on, invisible emblems of everything that is not book-knowledge. This is the light and the dark of the thumbnail, its manicured privilege, its drowned anchor.

In the trailer where she has been living since a surreal snow of ash felled everything in one unclean sweep, three small windows offer up a daily view of the burned hillside which the valiant stubble of November grass fails to cover. Home is also a thumbnail now, a file she must revisit in order to complete the catalog of loss. The woman she inhabits has resisted doing this, unanswered voicemails on her cell from the lawyer pile up like tree rings. If language is skin the words recalcitrant and cartilage rise up as ridges in an endless rosary of circular days.

At nine weeks, the gestation of the new nail is finally more than a crescent moon. She has clipped the wing of the old nail until it is no more than the beak of an emu. Soon to be extinct, like the wounded bone of a lost continent.

Towards the end the woman she inhabits goes at the nail with a tender cannibal lust, biting at it like a cat catches her kittens, by the scruff of their necks. The new nail is three quarters of the way in, eerily synchronous with the risen moon, red tinged from the smoke of wildfires raging north and south. Fire’s mouth the ultimate cannibal, sparing nothing and no one. Paradise has been lost, leaving nothing but the poisoned pints of thumbnails.

What is a nail compared to the pangs of birth? The last breath of death? A sadhu sleeps on a bed of nails, and what if one head holds a mushroom cloud and another dominoes of daisy chains? In the dream she and all seven billion are swaying in a cosmic sea, all filaments of the Pale Blue Dot called Gaia, murmuring Endling, Endling, Endling.


Date Palms – Pointillism – poetry – Sophia Naz

Date Palms
poems, Sophia Naz
City Press, June 2017

poems, Sophia Naz
Copper Coin, 2017


In the poems of Sophia Naz, the creatures have dress codes and the angels hang eyesight’s laundry. Naz sees double, says double. Has two words for every language. As disappearance might draw the crowds away from abandonment, this poet misses more than home and raises the message bottle, broken, to all that is vocal and vexed.

While the collection Date Palms polls the ghost vote on the slow-burn of miracle, Pointillism summons woman as the only darkness left to approve night’s parole. Both collections take seriously their toying, and nurture wordplay from glow to revelation. These verses speak not only of, but also to, those who wear silence as a badge to call it mouth. And so deepen the beauty all anger should have.

By such roadside flares, readers may make a meal of man’s unfollowed bread crumbs and learn to map hunger as a picky eater while knowing that Naz gets it in the painting- the dove they were sent.


reflection by Barton Smock


more, at:

also, Sophia Naz at {isacoustic*}:

person Sophia Naz, two poems

2016 Pushcart Prize nominee, Sophia Naz is a poet, writer, translator and editor published in numerous literary journals. Her poetry collections are Peripheries, Pointillism & Date Palms. Naz is Poetry Editor at The Sunflower Collective and City, a Quarterly of South Asian literature. Her website is

Descanso For America

Here in silence are their names. They were just young pupils. Irises not yet widened into the giddy wingspan of butterflies. What is the weight of the human heart? Tibetans string up prayer flags and let the wind do the chanting. If you hung up every single picture from an abruptly truncated yearbook their stories would be surgeons. Cutting through the artery clogging grease of a zillion false narratives. The heart of the matter.

While the red meat of America First is served up with a side of bait and switch, refugee children from Iraq and Syria are washing up on the glittering shores of Europe as if they are the broken glass of a bottle whose message will never be read. A grandmother died last night because a bigot President said she could not board a plane to The Land Of The Free. There is no poem which can undo this.

The heart is a fish swimming upstream. Her hyphenate gills suck up the sludge 24/7 to write a *descanso for America. Place it like a pushpin on a calendar each day for forty days and forty nights and then begin again. No end to this Lent. Not while water is a mortal sin, Tar Sands are king and the incarcerated masses toil for fifty cents an hour in home groan sweatshops sowing seam after seam in the key of obscene sentencing.

Immigrant heart, efficient even in exile, expert in the economies of loss, the rites and rights of the obliterated. Ear as earth-labyrinth listening for crumbs.The color of an insult, wedded to burning cheeks heard from birth. Feel its hum & hammer herd like the ghosts of butchered bisons in your eardrums.

Before you climb this ladder know it leads up into a manhole. Snakes are the limbs of every branch. Watch your step child. Don’t try to smell the flowers in the waiting room. Each bloom is fake in its own unique, patent pending way. Did you know your fingers are touching a spyglass at this very moment? You who trust in the innocence of yellow disks plastered with heart shaped eyes.

The God-Emperor has no clothes. Minders are standing by with blindfolds. Or, you can simply cup your barren sockets in your boat shaped palms as your eyes float away on the breakaway ice of melting glaciers. Unable to follow them even at a distance as they disappear. Your eyes who had grown up like strong yellow dandelions in the charring South sun drowning in the tipping point by the yawning door of no return. Before you scroll away I thought you might want to know. The human heart is about the size of a clenched fist. About to give blood.

* descanso: roadside memorial at the site of a fatal accident

Thirty Three Inuit Names of Snow

Light travels at sixty eight thousand miles a second
ergo, even as your lover’s eyelash brushes
your cheek, a glimmer has passed
into dark diurnal wells where you go
like village girls to draw
water for these lines

When you wake from wetness, clocks
are dismantling silence like
taxidermists they push
pins into sky’s chameleon feather
mining the amoebic
belly of water
to cash in on a quick rainbow
everyone’s watching for a pot of gold

While you are dreaming of a deep silence
folded in the thirty three Inuit names of snow,
What is love if not something that alights on the tongue?

Snow is the language of osmosis
synonym of a teaspoon of star soup from the first stirring
the eons old light swimming
like eels in your veins.