Two Poems

By Asad Alvi

 

Recantation

The mouths spat on the walls of mosques
wet tongues unbraided the tresses of night.

And in dingy motel rooms, naked men
were undoing the dresses of night.

They called me out – I said no – Oh,
I was afraid of the excesses of night!

Their whiskey-stained lips were baptized
in taverns of the empresses of night.

And the poems I wrote under the sun
were mocked by the poetesses of night.

Until a pair of lips found me too.
His breath filled the abscesses of night.

Asad nailed the āzan to the crucifix of dawn.
He buried his god into the recesses of night.

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[Translated from Urdu by the poet]

The Calamity 

And on the day when I kissed a man
the sky was red, and we heard the azāns dying
and from the holy books, the verses went missing.

and on the streets was blood-shed – evil had been let loose:
the men were robed in silk, the women had burnt their veils.

All – on the day when I kissed a man
the mountains were loosened like wool

and on our city,
the angels rained brimstone and fire

on the day when I kissed a man
on the day when I kissed a man

 

To read the original poem in latin script, click here

 

Asad Alvi is a translator and a poet. His work has appeared in The International Gallerie, Dawn, The Hindu, and Scroll, as well as We Will Be Shelter: An Anthology of Contemporary Feminist Poetry (ed. by Andrea Gibson), and the Columbia University’s Journal of Art & Literature, amidst others. In 2016, he became the youngest recipient of the Nasreen Anjum Bhatti Poetry Prize. Alvi’s debut book, The Tale of Sughandi: The Life and Works of Sara Shagufta, is forthcoming in 2018 by Speaking Tiger, India.