Two Poems by Rizwan Akhtar

by: Rizwan Akhtar

These poems by Pakistani poet Rizwan Akhtar explore how the natural world impacts our connections to self and other, love and loss, reading and writing. To provide the reader an opportunity to enter the endlessness of the natural world while still honoring our necessary evanescence, the poet dispenses with punctuation, allowing form and content to join in a type of celebratory lamentation: “There was no one outside using language anymore/ We chose a hole to keep silence uncontaminated.”


trees made me write you

I am constantly trying to communicate something incommunicable…
( Franz Kafka’s letters to Melina)

Not because of roots but of elliptical leaves
I thought of writing you a letter about trees
they are now swaying my constructions
for you and an occasional swirl of a squirrel
from barks long wet from unexpected rains
help me to think your damp hairs when there
is no one to praise them, you open it and refold
by repeating a sentence with layered concerns
Just as branches mingle into each other vainly
without birds they are dead logs hanging
in dark evenings, you scare your own voice
somewhere under a denuding acacia
but we burrow our epistolary arabesque
however what is so simple are surfaces
under a murmuring mulberry
canopying my writing whereas an abrupt
excrement spoils the delusive embrace
I describe in a purple passage where
you blush and stop me from touching
we sleep with trees like street urchins
wishing a fostering hand, sequestered
what if soiled fruits, dust-blown gourds
waste as egotistic words crack
my letters do not end for the want of muse
going through your curls, branches, errors
of overwriting, and the pauses wind plants
in scripts of trees without much revision
gardens evolve out of them, mere crusts
carry sheets of papers.


subterranean love

The December night was like a cold bunker
I admitted your stares for warmer ends

the world outside was absorbed in a design
two electricity poles fell on innocent cows

their carcass rotted whole day crows darted
lamenting fragile flesh whining dense air

cars passed by our windows unaware of seeds
we kept for a planet that is yet to be orbited

In the evening we read a book about folklore
Were not we making one in a closed room?

There was no one outside using language anymore
We chose a hole to keep silence uncontaminated.


Rizwan Akhtar works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at 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 in the UK, US, India, Canada, Australia & New Zealand including The Other Poetry, Planet, The Welsh International, Wolf, South Asian Review, Grain, Illumen (US), Outposts, Gutter: New Scottish Writings, Under the Radar, Veranda, Open Road Review, The Waggle, Eastlit, Cortegena(US), ScottishPen, tinfoildresses (US), Galway Review, and Transnational literature.

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