Bajwa’s debut poetry collection explores spirituality, relationships, and current events.
Bajwa has been writing poetry assiduously for four years after an approximate 25-year hiatus following his high school efforts. Falling into nine thematic sections, these verses use end rhymes along with some half rhymes. In the opening poems, the narrator imagines himself as a silent, wandering observer: “I wanted to be like a river. To just gently flow.” That mellow determination sets an agreeably peripatetic tone. The first section, “Personalities,” contains character studies of heroes and criminals, a dichotomy continued in section three, “Friends and Foes.” Many of the most memorable poems are in part two, “Beauty and Love.” Several are addressed to “Malaguena,” with praise for the beloved’s features echoing the playful verse of Andrew Marvell: “no eyes are so profound, Malaguena, as yours. / Like two suns shining over that beautiful nose.” Other topics include cultivating one’s inner child, drinking with compatriots, and gratitude for freedom. As the title testifies, Bajwa relies heavily on the symbolism of heavenly beings, envisioning ordinary people as fallen angels and vice versa. First-person narratives from God and an angel who left paradise for a human lover imagine the intervention of the spiritual in the everyday. Structurally, the poems generally comprise five or six rhyming couplets. Although these follow no recognizable form, in a few cases, the first stanza is repeated as the last, thus creating a pleasant rounding-off effect. However, Bajwa’s insistence on rhyme can lead to some downright odd combinations, like wharf/dwarf and cute/flute/mute. Reversing normal word order, Bajwa can sound unfortunately Yoda-like in places: “Push oneself one must.” Moreover, most of the poems are printed in an eye-taxing italic font. The conclusions in the section “Life and the Universe” (“Life’s short. So keep smiling and carry on”) may be banal, but the “Current Affairs” section appreciates the complexities of the Middle East.
Some standouts but limited overall by the incessant rhyming and some clichéd sentiments.