Volume 4 Issue 2, June 2020
Special Issue for Indian Poetry

Muhammad Nadeem 

The People of Night

 

their feet are shielded with days of dust,

they walk and walk and walk

the cold nights have filled

the cracks of their souls.

fear sends its roots deep

 into the lungs of nights

and they eat their hearts out.

it's everywhere

on the edge of the known pages.

the morning birds still whisper

 a part of the song

in the chilled air

in the green garden where

stars shine

to make them sleep

to fill in a dream

into the frosty nights

every wrinkle in the night shapes

spider webs in their dreams.

so much death awaits you

in kashmir

i wonder how do they even manage

to smile

to resurrect fire, storm, and

to laugh and melt each syllable

each word

read from the book of

being happy

and hopeful in kashmir.

 

 

 

 

Mother, They Write Poems*

 

from the ancient past—

came a memory of an old tale

on the pages of music

covered in the blanket of frost

under the sight of a flock of vultures:

After a bloody war,

wolves turned into scattered rocks

in the crossfire

unborn are killed in the

wombs by the stray bullets

pregnant stomachs are burst by police kicks

why am I living to see this?

How can I see these mutilated bodies?

These are not poems, please believe me

this is how I cry

this is a mask of cowardice

should be I with a gun

or a gorilla with a pen?

i choose to fool myself in ink

this is the safest way to grieve the dead in Kashmir―

the paradise on earth

with apple orchids and fallen dead―

Kashmir's boots are soaked

in the blood of her sons and daughters

buried in eternal darkness

lost in the history of death

                                                                                         

 

                                                                                            *Paul Celan

 

 

 

Let the Caged Birds Fly

 

my bones and my skin will rise with the dust

my memory and my soul will turn into stones

my defeat will hide from ignorant armies

my dreams away from meaningless interpretations

will let my lips be sealed, and hear no truth

for a moment, I will be the air

free and invisible

no prison songs

no counting of starts

no sores to heal

let the birds fly

and sing old songs

 

a flicker of shyness

still in his eyes—

no one is

alive who remembers.

lavish souls

is just my own

fear of death

blowing sand around.

past moonlit ruins,

“the antelopes sprinted right and left”—

one more

mighty

moment 


 

Bloodsoaked History

 

"Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live."

―Robert Kennedy

they’ve finally located the graves

I saw corpses

the countless dead

and among all the dead

and broken limbs and torn flesh

was an infant ripped from the womb

disappeared fathers, and sons and brothers

daughters, mothers, sisters raped

their bodies were secretly buried

in the nameless graves

our History is

bloodsoaked, slaughtered in silence,

(madness, blindness, and pain)

a fantasy to feed all the dark fantasies

we fight back but not enough

we protest but not enough

we are still here

bowed down with chains

in the dust and slick mud

of slavery

 

 

About the poet

Muhammad Nadeem is a reader and writes book reviews, poetry and short stories. He currently edits Mountain Ink Magazine (www.mountain-ink.com). He also works with translation and criticism and has previously been published in Prachya Review Journal, Cafe Dissensus Magazine, KashmirLit Journal, Oracle Opinions, Greater Kashmir, Free Press Kashmir, Kashmir Reader, Kashmir Life, Muse India, Kindle Magazine, Inverse Journal among other reputed literary newspapers, magazines and journals.

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Published by The Alternative.