Afghanistan: From Herat to Balkh and Back Again

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“Tom Savage wrote these poems during his travels through Afghanistan. He was twenty-three at the time but his words ring with unparalleled maturity. His journey took place before the Taliban came to power and had a chance to destroy the Bamiyan Buddhas, a 20th century tragedy for all mankind. He describes their glory, giving us a guided tour of his spiritual and physical states while doing so. These are love poems: They are tender, witty and full of compassion, wisdom and insight. Savage says it plainly yet ever so deeply when he chants: ‘my book is my pillow / my fireplace is breath / my friends are my food / the tree-swept is singing.’ While reading these gems, which are not unlike their great eastern predecessors Rumi or Jami, you too might make this book your pillow, your breath and your food as you let these poems sing to you.” — Steve Dalachinsky, author of The Superintendent’s Eyes and The Final Nite & Other Poems: The Complete Notes from a Charles Gayle Notebook 1987–2006

“Tom Savage's new book of poems offers a rare glimpse of Buddha in His humanistic manifestations. Savage's observations and reflections remind me of Rabindranath Tagore, ‘The soil, in return for her service, keeps the tree tied to her; the sky asks nothing and leaves it free.’ Or as Savage puts it, ‘I cannot live with imagination. / I cannot live otherwise.’ a spiritual account of merging with the unknown with the doors of perception open and shut at the same time — immortality is seen through the cracks. When the doors are shut, his love seeks others. When the doors are open, nature comes alive. An amazing book.” — Hal Sirowitz, author of Mother Said: Poems, Stray Cat Blues and former Poet Laureate of Queens, NY

“Tom Savage takes us on a journey, his journey, we are his footsteps, we are his breath, to Afghanistan. He is alone and it is not the Now of US military, or recent past Russian military, the sad, modern history of Afghanistan, it is Then. It is to journey in time, before hippies discover the medieval hash temple ball camel dung Buddha beauty top of the world otherness Afghanistan. Tom Savage is poet tour guide internal, his words slide indelibly through eyes, leave impressions so simple, so shockingly different, yet true, pure and unadorned, that you find yourself transforming. This unusual book is that gentle companion. Leave it beside your bed, read before lights out. Then will dreams and poems join to take you there, footsteps and breath.” — Bob Holman, author of Picasso in Barcelona, Aloud: Voices From the Nuyorican Poets Café and Director of the Bowery Poetry Club

“Written at a time and place when it was still possible to‘wait patiently for laughter’ this travelogue consisting of descriptive, lyrical and, in hindsight, elegiac poems by a twenty-three-year-old very far from home, exudes his love, longing, sadness and fascination, while moving among exotic particulars, many of which are now lost to us. One can’t read the stunning ‘Bamiyan Poems’ without being aware of the presence of ghosts.” — Larry Fagin, author of Nuclear Neighborhood and Complete Fragments