The Fortieth Day takes its title from the various incarnations of that chronologically symbolically event: if after forty days and forty nights the deluge receded, if Jesus and Moses both wandered in the desert for forty days, if after forty days—according to the Quraan—God’s breath enters an embryo and imbues it with a spirit, then the fortieth day must be the last moment before deliverance, a moment in time when a supplicant or prophet or storm-beaten passenger knows there is no state “after,” but finally accepts the present state as a permanent one.
Throughout the four sections of The Fortieth Day, a supplicant writes letter after letter that is unanswered, an old man pauses on the street unsure of which direction lies his home, silence deafens, and prayers of various orthodox and unorthodox kinds are constructed and offered. Where does inspiration to live come from? Why is it important to think about the spiritual condition of the world? These poems can’t answer these questions or perhaps won’t, because it’s the process of thinking about them that is privileged in this richly layered text.
Praise for The Fortieth day
"Kazim Ali has been kissed by the lips of eternity and managed to remain lucid enough to speak of the wonder." Sharon Gannon, co-founder, Jivamukti Yoga
In The Fortieth Day, every poem keeps an exquisite and undistracted vigil, wholly devoted to the contours of each moment. These vigils are rewarded amply, as Time itself unfolds its secrets to Ali. To read this book is to see new colors in a new depth. Donald Revell
Kazim Ali has found the underwater, above-atmosphere, between-the-spaces, time-abolishing secret of poetry, that it’s everywhere and nowhere, by listening to what lies just barely hidden under the heart. These poems, subtle rather than obscure, woven rather than proclaimed, well up naturally, take hold, then drift away. Spiritual and sensual, questing more horizontally than vertically, the poems of The Fortieth Day approach and often approximate pure music. He whispers into our ear, and tunes our hearing to a nobler resonance. Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore