Two Poems by Huzaifa Pandit

A good poem is like an electric switch. It will shine a light on you, it will connect in some manner, you would want to read it again.

Jaan vandyo

taking a leaf out of the massacred book of Rahim saeb

i wish to sing to you:

may my jaan be sacrificed on you, my jaan

may my body and soul be sacrificed on you. Can’t we

 

make a na’y out of your eyes

and pour the soz of a choked azaan

into keys carved in your musical neck. Can’t we

 

pretend that your coffin is a make believe palanquin

and we the palanquin bearers carrying it so lightly, oh so lightly

just like your high school poem promises –

we could be your palanquin bearers, singing in metered joy

when the candies won’t taste of grenade smoke, nor the garlands

be fashioned from fugitive rifles. Can’t we

 

stroll along the banks of dal, along the shaded boulevard

and escape the pickling sun at shaheed mazaar. Let the governor

play fortified golf in the golf club, we will sing

to the impoverished faeries and read from the confiscated royal library

under the barbed chinars at Pari Mahal. Can’t we

 

rescue the Mughal princeling from the sword

one last time. We will offer takht-e-suleman as ransom

and submit the parbat of Hari as a surety. Can’t we

 

wake from our insomniac nights under the cordoned sky and

listen to our dead mystic poets delaying our visaal a little longer.

Certainly hijr isn’t as bad, much as the poets would convince us.

We could read aloud Sheshrang, and cry out aloud:

Come my Aadan! I suffer from your separation,

Come, I only desire you, come that I am cured. I have scaled

dizzy heights of your love, what did destiny write for me? Can’t we

 

scripture the drugged daffodils

and anoint them as sentries to the ultra-marine Jhelum

of your memory. We could sneak our way in

after flaunting our identity cards issued

by the ministry of utmost sorrow, and bathe you

in the rose-tinctured waters behind the burnt shrine

of the great saint, and the tongue-tied dome

that testifies to a mother’s memory in mangled persian. Can’t we

 

just quote Ghalib: a thousand desires of mine, all could come true

many desires came true, yet only a few came true

*

2

Lesser roses will bloom

 

Lesser roses will bloom

in the summer night of your broken mirrors.

 

Like an orphan, I will run to you

and ask: Wisdom of my dead fathers,

why has the rose-grove bled out its ribs?

 

No poems will fall off

the back of the horses of strangled sky.

Like a soldier, I will charge at you

and ask: Wisdom of my dead fathers,

does the ear of a spool of concertina wire

ripen your bones?

 

Outside my prison,

walks half a yard of the sky of futures

where our pigeons fly at half-mast.

Like a wounded pigeon, I will limp to you

and ask: Wisdom of our past winters,

does the door to our dead open yet?

 

Peace be to unto you, peace be unto us,

robbers of the doors of our Dal.

Like a sunk shikara, I will greet you:

Wisdom of your depths,

when do we plumb

the echoes of your journey thrice?

*

Question :What do you think is a good poem? How do you differentiate a good poem from a bad one?
Answer:Well, it is an incredibly difficult question to answer. As Rodin answered when he was asked how to sculpt an elephant: first chip away all that is not an elephant. There is no fixed answer, therefore, to the question. If a poem is good you know it is so, if it is bad you equally know so. A good poem is like an electric switch. It will shine a light on you, it will connect in some manner, you would want to read it again. A bad poem, on the other hand, won’t produce the same effect. I guess that is the only way to know a good poem from a bad poem.

*

Huzaifa Pandit is the author of the recently published ‘‘Green is the Colour of Memory’ which won the first edition of Rhythm Divine Poets Chapbook Contest 2017. Born and raised in Kashmir, his poems alternate between despair, defiance, resistance and compliance as they seek to make sense of a world where his identity is outlawed. His inspirations in poetry can be guessed from the topic of his PhD: “Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Agha Shahid Ali and Mahmoud Darwish – Poetics of Resistance” at University of Kashmir. His poems, translations, interviews, essays and papers have been published in various journals like Indian Literature, PaperCuts, Life and Legends, Jaggery Lit, JLA India, Punch and Noble/Gas qtrly.

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