Stories about poetry

You should expect nothing

There are days of glee and sorrow, There are days of wonder and freight, There are days of worry, insecurity — Thoughts that you’ve been victimised. There are protruding, menacing, cutting eyes, Staring. They watch your every move. It’s not some higher power or satan or big brother, It’s just all the people who expect something from you. And the days will pass you by. You will find new shores and highways. You will look beyond the roofs of Karachi, and the markets of Lahore. You will breathe in the stink of cities, leaving the Big Apple behind. You will see the world — not really, But it will be enough. They will wonder where you’ve gone, maybe they really do ...

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O’ Father, your prophecy lives on no more

O’ Father, your prophecy lives on no more. The men with daggers for hearts walk the blood-soaked streets free and alive, With eyes colder than the Kashmir winds and veins warmer than Thar, they thrive, And all your children can do is close their eyes as the blood seeps into the roots, and from society, they drive. The women afraid of walking into the vegetable store, of all ages, Succumbing to the prying eyes, the filth that lay within the savages, They yell and scream, yell and scream, into the newspaper pages, And all your children can do is turn it over as a mere casualty in the inevitable collateral damages, O’ ...

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How Ibne Insha’s lyrical anti-war poems are terrifyingly relevant in the war-ravaged times of today

Ibne Insha (1927-1976) was one of our most gifted poets and humourists who died too young. The world knows him mostly as the author of melancholy ghazals such as ‘Insha ji utho ab kooch karo’ (Insha ji, get up and do something), or the biting satire that can be witnessed in his masterpiece, ‘Urdu ki akhri kitab’. However, little known is the fact that he was one of the early supporters of the Progressive Writers Movement (PWM) in colonial India and would undoubtedly have been one of its leaders had he lived long enough. He also left behind about a dozen odd intensely political poems showing an uncanny awareness ...

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Her smile, was it real or illusive?

Was she an empress, whose command was ultimate? That echoed through the outstretched lands? Or was she an ordinary being but not a commoner? Was she soul thirsty, bewitched, and engrossed in depths? One who could correlate to the enormity of the oceans? Nevertheless, she wasn’t incapable of being envied. Her eyes were buried with deep secrets of time Her smile, a mystery, was it real or illusive? Was her forehead overshadowed by a gloomy darkness? Whoever beheld her sight tried to unfold these truths. In light, her expressions easily changed, Thus, one could misperceive into it anything It all depended on the one who entered her soul, As though it was ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Live it now or leave

Permit me to be dead by next morning. A night in passion had been exhaustive, As dreams burnt in their heat; Lost in the ecstasy, As if there were no tomorrow. Live it now Or leave! They bluntly told me. What I’ve done, is what I’ve done. I can’t undo what I lost, Or gained, As we wanted it to go on, And on. Hence, I refuse to wake Thinking it was another dream That faded into nothingness ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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