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زرد پتوں کا بن جو مرا دیس ہے
درد کی انجمن جو مرا دیس ہے

فیض احمد فیض  | Faiz Ahmad Faiz

If I could see, simply, where to get to
              in that city where I stood,
                       blunt as a rickshaw flat.
Neither seen nor hidden
If I had tossed rupees
      into its river’s murky sleeve,
its litter floating—
If I could say one true thing to it,
                      like fuck this place
If I had said let me break free
                If I could walk its river’s cusp
like the pilgrims who haunt its sludge,
who fling from gaunt arms
chunks of meat for crows
If I held out a lump and waited for one to clutch back,
my stillness loosened—
my benevolence like grease
If the river wasn’t hurt
its toxic belly with bloated minnows,
              pharmaceuticals, and lovers routinely scavenged
                                        sometimes dumped
If I hadn’t turned to leave
              that river, that city, the wet mud
              at my feet trapping rainbows
              bubbling, hissing, you will carry this burden:
these scabbed walls, fissures,
this city that daily orphans its own
miasma, flaccid mynahs
the evergreen minister’s grin
              fraying the banner’s slogan;
these streets with makeshift earth ovens,
              with livestock and farmers razed off
              for Urban Transport and Housing schemes
If I could spin away & still sing
under each bridge’s black lung
of the woman who sweeps
the pavement with one foot short
of toes sliced clean from a factory machine
of laborers who flank the back streets,
with backs kissed
              to the scrape and dirt of earth
with snores humming in the sewer
and ribs that throb
with echoes of hard-hit drums
sent from a flaring of wedding tents;
of the vagrant children who huddle
              like matchsticks in sewers,
with fists pumping needles, their bloodstream
like the raceway beltway overhead;
of the lurker in alleys who moves panther slow,
his heart at war-beat, an artillery rattling
at the barking dogs
at the quiet
& its whistling, misty specter;
Blithe Spirit

Blithe Spirit by Sarah Short

              of those irked clerks who slouch
              before strident, ringing phones,
whose imagined, impossible lives
              sometimes float nameless
                            through writhing phone cables;
              of spring winds
of rippling kites             of burnt brick rooftops
& those youth who open soft
               to endless, porous ache
that blisters awake to dissipate like bagasse;
of the funk
of tobacco and marigolds
                   beneath his collar;
of the salon worker who softly thrums
to Bollywood tunes, who breathes
                  into my supine nostril
something of fuchsia lips
                 and riflescope eyes she’ll wear one day
                            for billboards of ghost theatres;
of the dancer who flees in time to the airport
on cracked, bleeding heels
by the invisible rope of a blackout,
against the thought of her own hacked body,
heedless of the hash the cleric-pimp slips into her suitcase–
& of the activist who peacefully knocks
municipal doors that mete out her protest
              for clean air and water
              in body bags or a hit-and-run;
of the drivers who daily sling in car seats
outside the boys’ school to steal a last drag
of smoke before home time, before the last
chickpea dunks moist
into their newspaper cone, before their slobbering
                                 little masters herd inside
                                                heaving stink & orders–
of each empty hour
in which my mother spores ears
            to her disconnect, its fungal wool
& of my father, whose swilled dreams
no longer scramble before him, like TV static–
If I could speak, simply
                                                   outside assonance,
If I could speak plain as tarmac
                                 to that shady, vigorous, fortressed city
                                 that spills tedium like ash and so much shit
                                                    would it condescend to me,
                                 a stone splitting my absence, its far seas?

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