Nazifa Islam

A Dangerous Union
a found poem: The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Poetry—condescending and clever
and so selfish—takes frantic sacrifice.

The ability to pretend you are not afraid
of what you really are.

It is not forthcoming. It is wary
of what I have to give.

The fact is poetry demands too much—
it always has to master me.

I have never before loved anybody so complex.
I start writing and remember

who I don’t want to be. I am writing
and recoiling

from the feeling that my life is all corrosive
doubt and regret.

How can this love be so annihilating—
so like patient vengeance?

Outside of Help
a found poem: The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

All my life, I have been alone
with words—those presumptuous strangers

colder than malice
who invite me to entertain them.

Words are fuming envy, intense humiliation, frozen anger—
an intolerable red-dark mizzle.

I want what is utterly impossible.
Well-meaning people to lavish my hours on.

A life sentimental and sweet.
The loneliness in my veins burned up.

I know I am brain-small and blind—
no shining genius

a worthless woman
ranged against a deluge of deft bickering foes.

O why do I have to make poems?
How do I find salvation?

The Pen Fell From My Hand
a found poem: The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

I buried my strange poems—
my spoiled visions

of hope and Hell—by the sea
this morning.

The rough pages shrouded all
of this lonely island

in darkness, and I’m wary
of pretending I know why I listen

to the dead breathe
in & out, in & out, in & out.

I Was Nobody to Him
a found poem: The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

He was magnetic—
so hungrily charming—and he left me

with a smile. Behind
his handsome mask was something
dark and sickening and electric.

We sat on my porch and he wouldn’t kiss me
just said quietly

Why can’t you see I don’t like you?
I said nothing—
his knife thrusts, his company

were all I wanted.
My blurted love was too much for him

and so he ripped out my heart
and walked off
into the night. I know he had to—I know

I was like Hell to him—
but I’ll never see him again and so now

I shut my staring eyes and fall
deep into hours
of contorted burning sleep.

His Last Day
a found poem: The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

A blind man was whistling in the nervous blue rain
with a handful of cold green light
when I—restless, grey, starving—found him.
I am dark wolfish havoc with an eye for the prophetic
and the man was threatening—
he was a piece of inviting nourishment.
There was no stopping myself.

Based in Novi, Michigan, poet Nazifa Islam is the author of Forlorn Light: Virginia Woolf Found Poems (Shearsman Books, 2021) and Searching for a Pulse (Whitepoint Press, 2013).  Her poems have appeared in Gulf Coast, The Missouri Review, Smartish Pace, The Believer, and Beloit Poetry Journal, among other publications. She earned her MFA at Oregon State University.

Founded in 2020, Three Fold is an independent quarterly based in Detroit that presents exploratory points of view on arts, culture, and society in addition to original works in various media, including visual art, literature, film and the performing arts. We solicit and commission contributions from artists, writers, and activists around the world. Three Fold is a publication of Trinosophes Projects, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Three Fold recognizes, supports, and advocates for the sovereignty of Michigan's twelve federally-recognized Indian nations, for historic Indigenous communities in Michigan, for Indigenous individuals and communities who live here now, and for those who were forcibly removed from their Homelands. We operate on occupied territories called Waawiiyaataanong, named by the Anishinaabeg and including the Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe (Chippewa), Odawa (Ottawa), and Bodewatomi (Potawatomi) peoples. We hold to commit to Indigenous communities in Waawiiyaataanong, their elders, both past and present, and future generations.