Anything but Stationary

kaaGhazi hai pairahan har paikar-e tasveer ka
Robed in paper are all pictures manifest:
this world is nothing but
Your paper!

by Huma Dar
for my N, Z, many Shahids, and the One

Write to Me.  photo credit: Natasha Dar, 2012
Write to Me. photo credit: Natasha Dar, 2012

The moon did not become the sun. 
It just fell on the desert 
in great sheets, reams 
of silver handmade by you. 
The night is your cottage industry now, 
the day is your brisk emporium.  
The world is full of paper.

Write to me.
Agha Shahid Ali, “Stationery”

The tilted goblet drips
Pacific amber:
liquid lunatic luminous.
And makes a slippery mess
of Highway 1
the night
memory and desire —
relentless, ebon, a plumbless
dream of falling.
Like tresses distraught
entwining your imagined arm
(make the bleeding black night
all yours)
your aching memories knotted in my gut
my exiled ghost lost, found
and willfully entangled
in the lines of your words
your stone-cold feet in my shaalfa —
an ablution performed in blood.

I will die at the golden hour…

by Huma Dar
dedicated to the memory of Agha Shahid Ali (4 Feb 1949 — 8 Dec 2001), and that of some other Shahids…
Untitled.  photo credit: Huma Dar, 2008
Untitled. photo credit: Huma Dar, 2008
I will die at the golden hour
on a Fall afternoon
in a car:
the driver’s seat

Shahid: A Ghazal

by Manash Bhattacharjee

To Najeeb Mubarki

Agha Shahid Ali (1949-2001)
Agha Shahid Ali (1949-2001)
Kashmiris will murmur the blessed word, Shahid,
when the Beloved no longer has to witness Shahid.
The day Paradise was lost, who was at the gates?
We only know boots of Hell marched in Shahid.
Rizwan couldn’t return to console his father –
he found refuge for days in your nightmares Shahid.
The Beloved left behind growing nights of sand    
and stars never slept in your deserted eyes Shahid. 
Mother’s death flung you into longing’s hollow arms.
Love’s ironic fate earned you her illness Shahid.
Continue reading “Shahid: A Ghazal”

A Passport Of The Country Without A Post Office

The genocide in Kashmir is not over yet, but the land fertilized by the blood of innumerable, amaranthine martyrs is blossoming bouquets of tulips and roses in quick succession. New possibilities of spring, of poetry, of Azadi, of freedom, of peace are here, and they are unstanchable. I wish you were here, Shahid: Beloved, Witness, and perhaps with the slip of tongue, even Shahd, or Honey.

by Huma Dar

Passport to The Country Without A Post Office
Passport to The Country Without A Post Office

I met Shahid between noon and one pm, in the Lipman Room of Barrows Hall, almost exactly thirteen years ago, on December 3, 1998.  He’d come to recite from The Country Without A Post Office (1997) for the Lunch Poems Reading Series at UC Berkeley.  His jokes, tinged with a very particular Kashmiri black humor — irreverent, risqué, ridiculous — mirrored my family’s wacky one.  All that heartache about Kashmir, finding not many kindred souls around, found solace in Shahid’s scriptured lament, “After the August Wedding in Lahore, Pakistan.”

A brigadier says, The boys of Kashmir
break so quickly, we make their bodies sing,
on the rack, till no song is left to sing.
“Butterflies pause / On their passage Cashmere –”
And happiness: must it only bring pain?
The century is ending.  It is pain
from which love departs into all new pain:
Freedom’s terrible thirst, flooding Kashmir,
is bringing love to its tormented glass.
Stranger, who will inherit the last night
of the past?  Of what shall I not sing, and sing?

Continue reading “A Passport Of The Country Without A Post Office”

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