Rizwan Akhtar – Four Poems

Rizwan 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.


Copenhagen

On a day in Copenhagen when morning breaks
with slams of rain riveting apartments

I seatbelt in a black Vauxhall creaking
along the harbor wanting burning sands

bleach-white seagulls float narcissistically
over Baltic rim humming with blue-ash water

moderate waves freak naked ankles
mermaids upleap from tales of Hans Christine

fairies and goblins outsmart
guard city’s spires and fictions,

my fellow friends exchange in Danish
the language of their future bread

exilic vowels belching assonance
as if Vikings chasing the Irish on bogs

absorbed by Derry’s poet Heaney
who goes to Aarhus (the traffic sign)

tempts me to slimy open lands
peat dead bodies and corpses

the land of ‘artful voyeur’
Now I dig in reverence of his words

burrowing anxiety of affluence
and a silence too unadultrated

fail my nose untamed by Nordic smells
perpetuating dank autumnal palate

almond horns, apple muffins
display to perfection

blonde girls cycle with finesse
in curled streets of Gothic hush

a sea-smelling evening waits on cobbled path
outside queen’s palace, I take off my jacket

to let the wind write its verdict on ruffled hairs
journeying dishevels my directions

after a church bell peals for the newlywed
flowers hurl in air like omens by oracles

I am reminded of people making love
homes and safer ends.


Two women

Cramping laps in corners two women lean
elbows chafe finger-tips fudge
baiting words for ambushed mouths
blush under a crust of smiles
may it be a bird or an untamed thought
beyond drastic boundary of reason
fantasy of sleeping in velvety beds
with brawny hermaphrodites
broad-chested hairy embraces
hedging poetic analogies but their intentions
are camouflaged by daily din of jobs
to earn a modest bread, a room in the city
and a view for arms to entangle when
no one comes to sleep over cushioned backs
Eros dies day by day blinking eyes
inside pillows and in nooks where they float
tabooed resumes of a life fiddling endlessly
plans of hording men over a steamy coffee
or sly interpretation of Adrienne Rich
and Carol and Duffy—Medusa & Mrs. Havisham—
cheat verses impersonate muse
to shape their versions of love
and the city says “ two women in corner are
like delayed fates” coiled by a will and a diction
hidden in bloused desires and armpits
marking everyone with their language.


Ghazal: untrammeled

The last night wind smacked windows untrammeled
Could it be a demon hounding streets untrammeled?
for Helen of Troy Paris mounted Empyrean heights
How love abducted her heart pounding untrammeled
Medusa smiles from coiled crackling of her head
Von Gough made his ear a gory token untrammeled
revenants rose from sands of Egypt in quest of blood
mid-way they found teeth of vampires, oh! untrammeled
drones fly over skies mocking the birds of paradise
stealthily Roman’s stryx suck life’s juice untrammeled
Call me Adam ! Yar I lived to prove that God has a plan
In Taro packs gypsies divine incantation untrammeled
Keats vomiting blood wandered alone in The Vale of Soul
Fanny nursed poetry ‘unobtrusive’ left the poet untrammeled
On chaplets men run fingers alluding to cosmic presence
bombs finish them prematurely, a dogma untrammeled
Socrates drank hemlock brushing his son’s insinuations
a gnostic lives permanently confessing sins untrammeled
Not talking about Majnoon makes Ghazal a still water
Let’s side with tradition showering Masters untrammeled
I see you choosing fake glaring and empty howls
time oversees, my progress is in stasis untrammeled
In the Royal Mosque we followed the silence after azan
your index finger raised and I just bowed untrammeled
in Lahore trains arrived with corpses sticking out
those days blood spoke language mired untrammeled
In English towns I roamed with groceries and memories
food kept me home and poetry steaming untrammeled
Somewhere ghazls took a new turn seeing Beloved’s mood
The poet is not naïve! manages inspiration untrammeled.


Project of love

Oh, yes, a brimmed cloud wanders with regret
her face crafted in stillness enjoys evening’s crux

in dim freckling, her pure lips pout. The world
is heavier with her flowery complexion, dust-like

she meets in invisible hours huffing into departures
miserable beloved. I stay content with previous language

remain vigilant with my head on her pillowed presence
midnight, sick with the idea of delaying revision

and over-tweaking the draft of her best insinuations
who said in love a stranger at home is more familiar

You are my shadow and see how we cancel each other.
Night on wet bed-sheets days on dreamy benches

punished for fingers transgressing your breasts
love, an inclination to intrude and steal inclusive

Would I write for you? Both forever and never
It would be like saying expression is blasphemous

I have loved the sacred crusts of your forgetfulness
concerns consumed so many words unedited,

and a guilt of consigning you to a world amazed
at its creation. Now the rain is finishing you.

 

 

 

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