Ode To The Baloch Nomad

Ode To The Baloch Nomad 

(my ancestors beckon)

i yearn for this place
i have known before

the benevolent harshness
the stark simplicity
the rhythm of precarious
daily survival
in a barren land

its startling beauty
visible only to those
who gaze at it 
with love

i was born in the cradle
of these high stone mountains

i have touched this pale dust
these proud hardy trees
the gnarled bushes
defying drought
scorching sun and wind

i know the cool sweetness
of the precious water stream
its life giving miracle
its uplifting song

i know the flavour 
of slow cooked food 
that smells like the bushes
tastes like the stream
and the cooking fire
of the charred tree

i know the aroma
of primitive
beautiful homes
made with 
twisted branches
and dried reed leaves

i know the distance
in breaths
from this hamlet
to that

the crunching of rock
beneath feet
grown accustomed
to the jagged contours
of the cruel
beloved terrain

i know that on a clear day
you can see
someone walking
on the farthest mountain
the sound of their footfall
echoing in the deep valley

and recognize
a cousin
an uncle
or a stranger
by his gait

i know the call
the colour
of every single bird
that visits
in every season
of this strange
and hostile land

i know the long deep silences
in which you can only
hear yourself breathe

i know how
the clean air carries
melancholy tunes
of lonely shepherds

and on some nights
i have been
among those gathered
around a fire
to sing poetry
about love
about loss
about homeland
about war, honour
and history

i know how women
hold their breath
when their men come
in the night
under the million stars
while their children
pretend to sleep

how they pray for sons
who will be warriors
and make them proud

but secretly love
their daughters more
with a love
that is an anguished longing
for themselves

i know the feel
of densely and improbably
embroidered fabric
of splendid white turbans
of lush curls falling
on feral men’s shoulders
their mouths
firm above luxuriant beards
their eyes narrowed
from lives spent
squinting in the sun

i know the lightness
of their step
that springs from
a wild, untamed
sovereign existence

very little owned
very little mourned
almost no 

for such burdens
would make them soft
cost too much
in a land
that only allows
those insolent enough
 to live

i crave this bare 
dangerous existence

the freedom
the fierceness
of the warrior spirit
that stirs inside me
when it recognizes itself
in the nomad’s brave
audacious posture
in the defiant arch
of his eyebrow
in his clear
 blameless gaze

for a day
just one day
this is the place,
the life i want again

this is who 
i want to be

5th december 2015

image: http://tbaloch.tripod.com/pain9.htm

for a copy of "Set My Heart On Fire" in pakistan nalayn publications
in South Africa intent publishing
and internationally via amazon


  1. so beautifully you bring us right there, the longing, the special simplicity of life when lived at it natural, unfolding pace.


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