A Requiem for Kashmir and other poems

A Requiem for Kashmir and other poems

A Requiem for Kashmir

(dedicated to the memory of Agha Shahid Ali)

I don’t live in Kashmir
But Valley’s vicarious denizen
complacently weigh words
like the Irish bard Yeats
spreads his dreams.
I am out to hoist
a color-free flag
an ancient anthem
of camaraderie.
I caress
my mother’s Kashmiri shawl
and touch a burgundy carpet
an image of asubdued Mongol
hemmed with juniper flowers
sits at the center holding 
a wine’s pitcher pouring
being away my descriptions
are second-hand but I have
read poets praising Dal Lake
so between Shahid’s ghazals
I can make way to peaks
and floundering paths
pellets and protests 
cloyed in haze from trees
long witnessing 
hauling shells of tear gas
in-between soldiers
chase people running
rioting verses 
oftheir stoned lives
each thing matters
a gun, a couplet.


I am not deranged
I love you loudly
with auditory metaphors
have a home with a chimney
an old fashioned telephone
with a braid-like wire
around fingers
to strangle 
when birds choose to snooze
I care to touch your lips
and their feathers on a surreal
morning window 
layered with ginger-white memory
of an evening you talked about
when a book on Rumi flapped
how translations have taken 
our original mediocrity 
but the soul wraps in verses
we peel eggs and watch skins
getting older
what other retreats 
what other places on bodies 
shelled in smiles
ending the fuss of ending 
let’s write and leave.

John Donne’s Cottage at Ripley

(September, 2017)

Just one of those dark and rattling evenings
on many ruts and slopes of Surrey near Ripley
in quest of Donne’s cottage on Wye Navigation
a bricked structure untouched by callousness
of big rivers swallowing things edged on waves
a small well-intended body of water cradled
by an early autumn, the trees spooked when
a biker whizzed past the mental map I consulted 
for the route leading to this poet’s sojourn 
the lover, the cartographer of bodies and seas
a dazzling star of court flinging arms around
women eloped to this cottage with Anne More
to this effect the romantic runaways soothed
nerves hanging on with a personal trail of love
messed up by continental excursions--
All other things, to their destruction draw,
Only our love hath no decay.

Another Day in Lahore

I stroll through walled peripheries
poking fingers in bricks giving away
on broken footpath vendors install
business resilient like doomsday
attract customers stretching lungs
and bodies sweating to next level
keeping their eyes on a far-off kite
waiting in the air for a last big pull
children run like a marauding army
girls squeeze clothes as if extracting
a lethargic interest in boys running
on roofs trying to catch the falling
end of the chord while others give up
afterwards a dust covers faces looking
for trees’ shades where on charpoys
old men gurgle language made for
climax of everything except silence.

Notes on a Love-letter 

For Tammara Claire

I want to write a love letter
but meet silence. The remains
of imagination (your address)
unclasp like those bird’s claws
carrying messages, and are held
back by the charm of a woman
conceiving couplets with a quill —
now my words without nucleus
are crazy electrons on a spree
the voice of a news hawker
(our street-monger ) distracts
my polished versions, later
wearing grease the sheets
waddle in evening, and tired
footsteps crave for an early exit
facing a crowd of questions
to be put away in a bin
sentences abridge into dots
the letter loses its plot.

Donate Now


*Comments will be moderated
Stunning cultural depiction, zeal of imagination and reflection of memories. I feel I don't have enough words to cover this kudos.
Dec 4, 2019 at 05:46