Bajwa’s (Of Angels and Few Lies…, 2015, etc.) poetry collection explores love, truth, and spirituality.
This latest offering picks up where the poet’s previous ones left off, with a strong emphasis on romantic relationships and spiritual bonds, and occasional detours into current affairs. The collection is divided into five sections: “Love,” “Truth,” “Secrets,” “Prayers,” and “Enlightenment.” The first examines the many shifting forms of its subject; in a poem titled “What Do You Mean to Me?,” Bajwa writes: “You’re the turbulent ocean; you’re the safe schooner to me.” The second section, “Truth,” is more diverse, examining such things as the mundanity of corporate life (“I’m just a man without a face”) and the horror of the 9/11 attacks (“In memory of lives lost in a manner most foul”). The latter sections focus explicitly on spiritual matters; some poems, such as “Of Beautiful People” examine pathways to enlightenment (“In the depths of one’s suffering, one is reborn”), while others, such as “Perseverance,” are poetic prayers for God’s assistance: “Give me veins of steel. A soft heart, vision that’s always clear.” As in previous collections, Bajwa remains resolute in his use of the rhyming couplet, stringing five or more together in most poems. The couplet’s bouncing nature adds uncomfortable levity to weighty issues, as in “Mind Over Matter,” a poem about enduring life’s pain for a later spiritual reward: “Today it hurts; tomorrow the halo shall there shine. / That’s the spiritual law, so don’t anymore whine.” This also exemplifies the poet’s regular use of jumbled, awkward word order to force scansion and rhyme. Still, Bajwa will make readers smile with his offbeat observations, as when he relates spirituality to dairy products: “Just like 1 percent, 2 percent, or whole milk from dairies, / the degree of God in each of us varies.” The collection in its entirety lacks depth, though, and often draws naïve, outmoded conclusions, such as “a real woman supports her man through thick and thin.”
A well-intentioned work, but its repetitive use of rhyming couplets can be taxing.