The Murderer and the Murdered

I have never found it in my heart,
to clean my room.
I like it muddy and untidy—
the kind of chaos, that accompanies
a frantic search for the passport,
just before leaving for the airport.

A madness walking naked,
turning my walls into New York Subways,
where trains leave from one city to another
travelling through holes in Time.

My guitar dreams at a corner,
it has silken cobwebs for strings
and the only song it plays by itself
is the one which fireflies sing
as they set fire to the night.

In a jar, I keep a sad river,
which my mother brought from Varanasi,
and in a bowl, the hunger of a crematorium.

From the book-shelves,
Shahid1 mourns Kashmir,
Bukowski is furious at a typewriter,
and Cohen is putting oceans to sleep.

I hear these men whisper,
when the lights go off,
and the stars come on.

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At times, I see someone like me,
made of paper and glass,
lying on the sofa.

In the glass I see myself—
with the paper, he slits my throat.

Shahid: A Voice That Smote the Djin 

The only thing
I’ve craved as a poet
is to have a voice
like Shahid’s.

That voice like burning incense,
like all the lovers of the world
sighing together.
That voice sits by a fireplace—
his heart, and the wood
crackling at the same time.

When it rains outside,
Shahid is by the window,
singing his favourite Akhtari2
and you just know
that even the raindrops
smile as they fall.

The thing about Shahid—
he always wrote letters he never sent
and turned the dial of an obsolete radio
to tune into Radio Kashmir.

Between the stars
that died in his room
you will find a galaxy
that leads to a grove
where Faiz is burning a forest
and Cohen is writing with the ash.

  1. Shahid: Agha Shahid Ali, an American-Kashmiri poet. 
  2. Akhtari: Of Begum Akhtar, an Indian actress and singer. 

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