All posts by Sania Irfan

What They Say About Poets

Poets are sensitive people, they say,

Made out of fire and flowers and untameable ferocity,

raging in a storm of words 

that pours through the cloud and fog of a pen,

ripping through the blankness of paper.

 

Poets are beautiful people, they say,

Gathering the joy and pain of the world in a chamber of their heart, in a lump in their throat.

Alone in crowds, alive in books,

Writing awake and asleep, in the open and in nooks.

 

Poets do not succumb to time, they say,

May it be the little, shaking hand attempting- for the first time- to write more than two lines,

or the wrinkled wrist trembling under the weight of bygone times;

Etching eternity into paper.

 

In the tales of poets they speak of, perhaps it is so

That a poet’s life is a deep chest where poetry is aglow.

For they are weavers of warmth and rawness and joy and woe.

Playground, Battleground

You come here to play and hurt. 

But I have to bear your stares

and all the things that you do to safeguard the false masculine honour that you have created for yourself,

to taint the false feminine honour that you have painted for me.

You hate it. You hate it when I jump and run.

As if it isn’t the ground but your being that I’m stepping on and trampling.

I play with the inflated ball of your ego, it seems,

because tennis balls aren’t meant to hurt “strong boys” like you-

are they, now?

 

How I wish your ogling, hooting existence would diminish just as you aim to do to mine!

Though the thorns that you have strewn in my way, make my feet bleed;

with my blood-soaked feet, 

I will keep walking ahead.

And I will stain your perfect pavements,

the centres of your mafia of oglers.

My bloody foot-prints will tell the story of my struggle and your cruelty.

But remember:

My story is your stain, not mine.

I will not cower in shame.

 

Rather,

I will gather

all the hurt caused by your cat-calling, gawping existence,

encase it in stones that I will throw at you

with the same hands which you called weak,

as I stood alone and unarmed in the arena,

while you hid within your palace of privilege, along with your herd of gangsters.

Hunh. And you call me fragile?

 

Remember:

Your fragile, smirking, irking being 

can bring me no shame.

Hidden behind windshields, zooming past me in cars, you honk your filthy horns.

But my honour thrives as I walk across the malicious path of thorns.

 

Above all, remember:

You have already lost.

I am destined to win.

And this

is where I begin.

Tale of The Lone Climber

Trudging up the mountain, I am all alone.
Days of the lowland marshes are long gone.
Playdays in the lowest valleys, where the sun shone bright,
Are now as distant as the valleys-almost out of sight,

And trudging up the mountain, I trip over a boulder, shrouded by ice,
I am no longer the speedy go-getter, getting up in a trice;
But I do stand up, at the speed of a freezing tortoise,
I stand up, nevertheless-amid my mind’s silent noise,

With snow-sunk boots and a heavy cape that I’m wearing less; hauling more,
I search for the next piece of walkable track, tapping on it, to be sure,
Nothing is easy, everything is covert,
From the mountains to the animals to my own heavy heart,

Must I blame myself for yearning to reach the mountain peak?
Is it my abandoning friends or my stubborn self that is weak?
Are they to be blamed for breaking the promises of conquering summits together?
Or is it the fault of the menacing rocks, the threatening wind, the merciless weather?

Trudging up the mountain, I am nearly hopeless; tired, and alone.
My body numbs and like the mountain, it seems to turn to stone.
But from a stubborn hope, a surprisingly unbreakable dream, I keep going.
Falling, stumbling, crying, rising, lying, walking, dragging myself…..but going.

I keep going on and on until
I reach the mountain-top and see them-my old friends, probably playing, safe and sound,
As specks of black and brown, spotting the smooth, unchallenging, lower ground,
I wish they were here too, that we could tell tales of our mountain-conquering journey,
That the “my” and “I” in my tale could be “ours” and “we”,

But I am here, all alone-alone to touch the clouds, and feel the Sun’s rays blossom over my head,
Alone to taste the nectar of self-fulfilment, to embrace the once-faraway snow-bed,
I am here, all alone, to take pride in my bruises and scars,
I am here to befriend the shining moon, the twinkling stars,
And after trudging up the mountain, after numerous introspective fights,
I have finally made it to the top, to sing with the Northern lights.

Be-Numb

“Don’t feel too much,

Benumb yourself,”

They lull you to sleep,

“Hush a bye baby on the treetop,

When the wind blows the cradle will rock,”

Forgetting that

“When the bow breaks the cradle will fall,

Down will come baby, cradle and all.”

 

Their little cradle of wishful thinking-

Their flimsy enclosure of all-is-well,

Is breaking,

The bow that ties this cradle high up

In the world of privileged ignorance

Is breaking,

The knots of safety from thought

And protection from change,

Are breaking;

 

But they will still pat you on the back,

Say that you ought to “stay on track”,

“Don’t feel too much, benumb yourself,

Let pain be a book biting dust on the shelf,”

Fire is ablaze but they will repeat one line:

“Trust us, everything is fine.”

 

But their hut of lies is burning,

Breaking.

Go Read Your History Right

I am a textbook-the only source of history that you claim to need,

The only damage you think I cause is to force you to read,

But I am the product of a careful, systematic design,

You would be naïve to think that I am benign.

I establish ignorant conjecture as an unquestionable fact,

Ensure that the policies of the authorities remain intact,

I am made to deceive; not for you to explore,

Personal opinions and shrouded reality have created my lore.

 

They will teach you religion till they ensure,

That it sounds like a fanatic maxim of war,

They will tell you that questions are forbidden here,

Don’t fall for it, for goodness sake, my dear.

The history they’ll teach you will make you unkind.

Please do not let my pages turn you blind.

 

So as you skim through my crafted timeline,

Don’t let them tell you that this is all fine,

Don’t let them glorify any fabricated quote,

Don’t learn falsities mindlessly, by rote,

Learn to distinguish patriots from xenophobes,

And true scholars from mere men in fancy robes,

 

Go look for the truths, un-censoring stirs upon stirs,

That would make their heroes look like monsters,

And go search for the facts buried deep in the sands of time,

The ones they didn’t publish and the ones they’ve grimed.

 

So go and read your history once again,

Go read it right, this time, my friend.