poetRizwan Akhtar works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan. He completed his PhD in postcolonial literature from the University of Essex, UK in 2013. He has published poems in well-established poetry magazines of the UK, US, India, Canada, and New Zealand. He has also done a 5 weeks workshop on poetry with Derek Walcott at the University of Essex in 2010.

Belfast vignettes

The happy leave no clues, John Hewitt

Preferring to get wet in Belfast’s rain
I walk over the bridge of River Lagan,
mossy densities hold its pace
near Albert Tower pigeons make decisions
from one bench to another,
people in bars clock contradictions
over glasses of guinness
some are alone like me figuring out places
Near the Titanic Monument
I pause, the Irish say we only built it
but it drowned somewhere else, its bit like me
planting memories on Dublin Road
Ulster Museum, Tudor structures
in awe of absence I snuggled from home,
telephone calls, pillowed whisperings,
early morning voices

(Cities are like beloveds
you try to catch them they elude
the privilege of losing destination is romantic)

I exchange smile with an old man holding a map
pruning hedges of his garden
big yellow roses outside his house tell
that he must have loved someone deeply,
that it is not too late, but I resist and
do not pluck, sauntering back
I am blocked by a young couple kissing
on promenade, I snap images
they do not leave hands and embrace
here is a reason to hold a city, a face,
and a pedestrianized path.


I smell strangeness in you and your breath. The whole
dress is different the way you comb and let hairs fly
call it one of your ways of rejection
language is a straightener may it be in your hands
or some visible anatomy. You and your style is outdated
a mere touch is predictable.

The teeth never eat themselves the tongue is tasteless
an ear does not listen that higher powers are audible
you and your dogma is kinesthetic.

Bare fists and gloved policeman are angles of darkness
poor prostitutes stage a tableau of survival, employ
extra effort to pinch more form hasty clients
wearing chains and necklaces
You and your morality is glossy.

in buses faces threaten to stick with you
outside workers shaping constructions sites
uplift urban parks with modern art and ease
imagination prospers , some try poems
they and their metaphors are same.

Time takes a reasonable spill during embrace
call it a tragedy you are versed in sex
last time there was nothing except a melee
stripped off and soaking with sweat you subsided
in your concerns was a paradox do this/do that
with body . Fingers in cleavage
you and your Eros fakes pleasure.

Cell phones and tabs are titans’ godly gadgets
warring gifts you manage for epic hours
read fiction in Kindle and stack surprises
in files and folders with millions of icons infesting
custody of contacts. You and your software
Is bugged. Egyptian Pharos and their sleep is fossilized.


The poem is a refugee
huddling to sentinels picking
on its unpredictable palate
lulled under tin-roof cabins
erected on gravel paths crowned by wires
where you cannot think other than pincers-teeth
and spear-eyes, sometimes rains keep falling
and snow enchants stories frozen
under foster blankest, lateral shadows
creep on wires holding over-used clothing
swimming like ghosts mimic under yellow bulbs
metaphors blink to rescue
when night becomes too real
around bowls of gravy and crumbs,
and televisions chirp sophisticated
out there on green verdure of cold winds
are scripts of wanderers kept for stealing
manifestos which readers endure with smiles
springing from bashed expressions
and smart abbreviations with philosophical quips
about thresholds and doors unwinding myths
under table lamps, moths risk death by hands
when the conclusion is so obvious, it is
writing a beloved whose body bloats
like a loaf of imagination.