Poems

Palestinian woman

( for Israa’ Abed)*

What did you say
to the guns they pointed
at your heart,
heart shaped like an olive tree
they stole from your memory?

Oh, Palestinian woman,
now lying gently tilted
a dark green hijab holding your bleeding brain
black sandals facing the ground,
upside down, as if looking for a way out,
to flee this frozen moment
where the tender touch of your heels turned sore,
a sore festering, deep in you, for decades
since the night they crept into your father’s silence,
while he was writing a poem,
he never could finish,
dead alphabets of occupied languages
lay all around his pages…

bloodied and burnt
did he visit you every night
in your teary dreams,
and stand in silence like a corpse
that you forgot to bury?
did you whisper to him
” Baba, please recite to me verses
from your last poem,
this silence is poetry I cannot bear,”?

he is waiting for you, now,
near the gates of mourning
with a charred sheet of paper in his hand
where his unfinished poem killed itself
but, why aren’t you leaving yet?
why does your image
still plunge into my pupils
rippling on my resting tears?

why does your posture, calm and tragic,
still haunt my heart
which has no place to escape?
are you waiting for your three children
for the touch of their tiny palms
for the look in their perplexed eyes
still too young to know death,
still full of hope
that they think you are teasing them,

” Mama, wake up.
wake up, Mama
you won ”
‘some games you can never win,”
you say.
but they can’t hear you,
the world won’t hear you
are you still waiting
for the birds that long flew your land
to return to the nests where they loved?

for the children
crushed while they crawled
burnt while they slept
bombed while they played
to come back and collect
the pieces of their childhood
they hid in a tiny box
buried in the bosoms
of their mothers, who waited
through the moonless nights
for that wall to crumble,
walls where they wrote,

” Martrys always return” ?
do they ever leave?
you still lie,
here, there,
everywhere
the moon on my terrace
looks like your closed eye
the sky smelt like a tomb
the cosmos carved for you
the sound of that gun,
a second before it pierced your life,
rings in my.ear
like a prologue to.a tragic play
I çan’t bear to see.

oh, Palestinian woman,
what did you see in the eyes
of the ones that killed you?
Stolen land?
Murdered memories?
the eyes
of people who eat popcorn
while they bomb your homes
people who sleep on the graves
of your ancestors, who they kill
again and again,
in dreams
they once occupied
and never left

*On 9 October 2015, 29-year old Isra’ ‘Abed from Nazareth was killed by Israeli police at Al-Affoulah bus station in Israel.

Protest against Haryana Government

NEW DELHI, INDIA OCTOBER 25: Two Dalit children burned alive in Faridabad Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch supporters during A protest against Haryana government at Jantar Manter in New Delhi.(Photo by Qamar Sibtain/India Today Group/Getty Images)

Burn-able bodies

bodies,
burning in my eyes,
ashes falling down as tears,

tears of a history,
untaught
tears of a people,
untouched
bones,
unformed,

crumbling under the burden of fire,
like sentences,
breaking in the middle
with words jumping, letter by letter,
into the abyss of silence
almost as if
they were never written
almost as if
they were never born

tongues,
yet to learn a language,
that only spoke with limbs,
shuffle within the flesh of those flames
for a syllable that resembles kindness,

all it found,
guiltless gerunds
churned from vitriolic verbs,
they knew,
there was no dignity left
in the language of humanity,

children
wake up in coffins
that smell of burning wombs
those coffins
that don’t want to be buried
not before this nation douses itself
in disgust of its own reflection
in those half-open beady eyes
their mother can’t bear to close

homes
once flaming with hope
now drenched in despair
bodies
that shouldn’t be touched
but only burnt
shadows
that shouldn’t be seen
but only slaughtered
some old
some young
some in the day
some in the night
some near the feet of temples
some near the mouths of sewers

a habit that never leaves,
but only creeps, deeper,
like death into the cemetery,
into the eyes of a Republic
that never regrets

*On October 20, Upper caste Rajputs set fire to the home of a Dalit family in Sunpedh, a village in Faridabad near Delhi, killing both the sleeping children inside aged 2 years and 9 months while their parents have suffered severe burn injuries.

Mob Kills Man, Injures Son Over Beef Rumours In Greater Noida

GREATER NOIDA, INDIA – SEPTEMBER 29: Family members of Mohammad Akhlaq (50-year-old man) mourn during his funeral at their village in Bisada on September 29, 2015 in Greater Noida, India. Akhlaq was beaten to death and his son critically injured by a mob over an allegation of storing and consuming beef at home, late night on Monday, in UPs Dadri. Police and PAC were immediately deployed in the village to maintain law and order. Six persons were arrested in connection with the killing of man. (Photo by Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

None left

I bow
to the cow
munching my mother’s bones
near the windows of my burning house

” I am your mother”,
it moos, in maternal delight,
for her deserted sons

I hear,
in the silence of its hooves,
the final moan of my mother

” Fly away, Aslam,
before the tunes of these deaths
reach the graves of your ears

Fly away, child,
the warmth of my womb
is drenched in this doom

Fly away, darling,
these saffron skies
have no space for broken moons

but
forgive,
before you fly,

forgive all the mothers
whose kids never returned

forgive all the silence
whose words never formed

forgive all the seas
whose shores wounded you”

last wishes,
they say,
are final verses
of a poem whose time to end
has come

I take the bloodied pen
from my mother’s cold fingers
tear a piece from her white saree,
a canvas to conclude this parting poem,
with holes that smell of stubbed cigarettes

cigarettes
a country smokes
in the shadows of its temples

the ash
sprinkled all across its twisted map
are leftovers from our lynchings’

I try to finish the tear
that started in my mothers eye
but……

I realize
that I am already dead
the pen has left the ink
the eyes have left the tears
the birds have left the wings

there is no end
to this poem
there are no eulogies
to these funerals
there is none left
to weep or to write

*On October 1, 2015, Mohammad Akhlaq, a 50 year old muslim man, was lynched by a mob of 100 over the rumors of carrying beef. On October 10, 2015, Zahid Ahmed Bhat, a 20 yr old belonging to Kashmir, was lynched for the same.

Stories of a graveyard

Azaan stabs the dawn
with its absence

Aziz chacha kills himself
with poison he bought
by pawning his bronze-coated Quran

kids from the madrasa
tearing their skull caps
run across the streets
writing on the walls
with blood from their burning eyes
the Arabic word they learnt
the day before

ila-liqaa’
(until we meet again)
-their tongues folded like waves
that vomit corpses onto the empty shores

the leaves with dew on their lips
wilt into parched shrouds for dead roses

the domes of the mosque
crumble into wounded sparrows
climbing up the stairs
that touch the skies
only to slip onto the cracked soils of cemeteries
as tombstones waiting for the corpses

Khaja mama who guards the graveyard
writes a rhyme he always forgot in the school
on one of the blank gravestones
then gently sleeps inside the grave,
asking his wife to cement the top with her tears

Wazira who died two days ago
walks out of her coffin
undressing the rags on her body

stretch marks on her womb
flayed skin on her fingers

At the door of the burial ground
she sits naked
with her legs wide apart
a frozen teardrop twinkled on her bosom
a flock of butterflies huddle on her shoulder blades

*On October 23, 2015, unknown youths dug out the body of a Muslim woman, buried two days before, from her grave and allegedly raped the corpse.

All the poems were penned by Abul Kalam Azad.

Abul Kalam Azad is a student at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, Chennai. He can be contacted at saka16492@gmail.com

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