Stories about poems

Who should we write about?

Are the people we write about, The only ones that exist? These days, They say, It’s impossible to be alive, Without a voice, A presence. You’ve stopped asking why, But still they say, It’s important the world remembers, Remembers that you exist. But there are those, Who exist (and have existed), Without a word, Who think and act, And prefer not to write. Who live, And stand comfortably next to death, Unafraid, Unprotesting. These people, Hold on to their thoughts, Peeking at them at nights, And pushing them deep inside long overcoats during the day. They derive pleasure in the most insignificant things, And belittle the most significant ones, Who are these people? Who leave without a trace, Without fanfare, Or memorials, Or movies that display their pictures, Nor can people trace the length of their smiles, Nor are children named after them. And not even the bench has their imprints anymore. But maybe, we should call back our eyes, And search, now, in other places. Which ...

Read Full Post

One day, you’ll know

The black wheelchair rolls on the newly swept marble floor, clean as a mirror, reflecting all the dreams that died away, He sits by the caged window, watching the shadows lengthen as his children grow, A fragile grey hand moves with the wind, uncontrollable, making the sacred last letter impossible, He watches the dust settle on the cold bed, the grey waves of light enter from the window, a burden, making him regret his existence.  The seed of love, planted with the youth of his hands into the ground of birth, now matured; a shadow, an image, invisible, Blue and cuffed, the eyes, a war zone, soldiers battling against the inevitable ...

Read Full Post

A lament for Mashal Khan

The trees begin to cry and plead, The vultures touch the inevitable deed, Blood in the bare naked streets, A bullet with the heart meets. The barren walls drown in blood, The teardrops gushing like a flood, The soul still void of all disease, The eyes begin to cry, “Please”. The sticks now mere knives cutting the morning bud, The head, with all its power, begins to climb but is stopped with a single thud, The skull, born from dust, caved in back, The skin trampled, the wounds in life lack. As the wolves begin to deflower the body, Of all dignity, His name surrounds the valley air from the dust to ...

Read Full Post

They call you darkness, I call you my best friend

I am a flower. A petal. A stone. I am all of these things and none, I am burning with follicles; I am bound shut by earth, I am two polar opposites, striking against each other at all times. I am sin I am sadness I am hope on a tree I am lost, eternal, free-falling misery. I am light in the dark I am the wind in the desert I am every cliché that you think I deserved. I am lost, I am found: I am almost always a raging sound I am loud and fierce and fiery I am darkness as it drowns your lungs; you cannot breathe. I am suffocating ...

Read Full Post

Crooked fingers and final chords

Crooked fingers steadily vibrating on the guitar, Heavy eyelids blur out the crowd, The body trembles as the last chord is recited, The floodlights blind out the distance, until all he can see is just an echo of himself.  His lip buds expose his subtle prophecy, His eyes deeper than the sea that has absorbed all pain, His nose glitters with the little line of cocaine still up that unholy hole, The ocean, at the end of the road, vivid in all its majesty. The eyelids much heavier now, impossible to fight Make it all the more painful to keep playing, even when his body compels him to, The ...

Read Full Post

Majaz Lakhnawi to the labourers: ‘The day we rebel, Judgement Day will compel’

The Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif has announced that a first-ever labour policy for the province would be announced today, on the occasion of International Labour Day. This is welcome news from the incumbent chief minister, known to publicly recite from the popular poets and bard of the Pakistani working class, Habib Jalib in his more distracted moments. While the national government has yet to announce a more conciliatory policy for the hardworking workers of the country, the chief minister might also be interested in another progressive intervention on behalf of the workers from our not-too-distant past, the ...

Read Full Post

Majaz Lakhnawi advices young women to ‘lift the veil, raise the flag’

Majaz Lakhnawi lived through a turbulent yet exciting time: in 1930’s British-controlled India, where patriarchy also raised its ugly head, especially in Muslim households. Yet Majaz, who himself was born in a Muslim family, became a prominent member of the Progressive Writers’ Association (PWA), whose task was to rid India both of British colonialism and patriarchy. He quickly became a popular poet, ahead of his illustrious peers, both amongst young men and women, due to his message of revolution and female emancipation. Owing to just a few of his poems, Majaz has entered the pantheon of great poets who recounted the social history of the Indian subcontinent ...

Read Full Post

The story of my life as a Poetic Scribe

“Hassan would travel the world on foot. By day he would brew tea – maybe Cairo, maybe Morocco. He would find different ways to sustain his travels as he always only moved from city to city by foot, guided by the moonlight. The day was to work he claimed, and the night to travel. Soon after this wandering artist crossed the Wagah Border, he met the love of his life. And anchored his heart in Lahore. Please can you put all these details in your poem”, said Shama. I blinked at this stunning woman telling me a very personal love story of her dearest ...

Read Full Post

Lub pay aati hai dua bann kay tamanna meri

On December 16, 2014 The Express Tribune blogs desk received many submissions from grief stricken people from all over Pakistan. These people wanted to show their solidarity with the families of the victims. They wanted to mourn the deaths of the students and teachers from the Army Public School, who were brutally massacred by the TTP in Peshawar. Due to shortage of space, we were unable to accommodate many, but we understood that this was a traumatic event in which every Pakistani’s protest should be recorded. So, this post was created as a window for people to come together and ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan ko ‘Dekh magar pyaar se’

As unusual as it may sound, for a while now, I haven’t been able to understand why we, in Pakistan, don’t flaunt the wonderful truck art we have. I, for one, absolutely love the art-on-the-wheel concept. As much as a common Pakistani takes pride in Faisal Mosque, Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque, I take pride in truck art. For me, it is not the architecture – built by foreigners before the idea of Pakistan was even conceived – that defines us, it is truck art that boasts of our vibrant personality which defines us perfectly. If the various personalities in Pakistan ...

Read Full Post