.. Of Paper Boats and ‘Salty Waters’


Now that you are here,
let’s make a journey together.
Do not speak, do not move,
.. and do not close your eyes.
Let’s pretend
this paper is a boat,
and this poem a sail.
Let’s pretend
these words are winds,
and their meaning a compass.
Let’s pretend that
this moment is an island —
and our “silence” its only route.
Must you ask
about the missing ocean,
come sit by me for a while —
have a look into my eyes.
So you may begin
your journey from there,
.. where “salty waters” roll
Now that you are here,
let’s make this journey for once.


~ IZ ~



.. Of Yards of Soul


Measuring yards of Life
coming apart,
at the seams of my creviced soul,
I sit every dawn with a needle and thread it,
with the veins of my spinning heart. Stitching with knotted yarn.
Sewing on fragile fabric;
I raise my eyes in-between every stitch; 
and spy on the night
to count each conspiring star.


Like the studded clear-crystals
on my black velvet Prayer-Mat —
every shuddering star
upon the ‘Fajr’ sky,
stare back at me and pity my eyes.
Only to deliver
to the listening ears of His firmament,
my mute sighs ..
Of how frayed
the garb of life has become.
Of how loose
the thread at its seams have grown..
So He may bestow upon my soul
His ‘Noor’ —
in the form of a white veil,
a cloak,
a wrap,
.. or even a shroud,
just thick enough..
to contain these oozing breaths —
whispering your name in silence —
from fleeing
through my old tattered being!

~ IZ ~

* Fajr – time of dawn. * Noor –  light.


Architecture of a Memory

red vault of heart.jpg
Each corridor of my mind
leads to the grand Foyer of the Heart,
where no entrances
nor exits are found.
In its magnificent high vault —
decorated in stained red glass;
is a mural etched on gold..
of a dust covered Paradise.
In which the Architect of my memories
had forgotten, 
to sketch and build
the only gateway to my salvation.
And I keep walking in circles;
between my Mind and my Heart —
trapped in this divine mansion —
without a map or an astrolabe,
to lead me ..
.. out of my memories’ dilapidated Hell.
~ IZ ~

.. Of ‘Bait bazi’ of Life

And we sat one last time.
Face to face,
in the ‘Mehfil’ of Life.
You, drunk;
from the red chalices
of your many lovers.
And I,
by the hemlock
of death’s black kiss.
In your presence
candles burned..
moths burned..
.. I burned too.
Verse after verse,
I read out to you.

in my delirium to learn about you,
I had byhearted
the alphabet of God,
.. and made dictionaries out of you!
Time moved slowly —
night passed..
dreams passed..
.. we passed too.
Verse after verse,
I won from you.
Until the final turn came unto you!
And I missed….
I missed out on the letter L,
which you plunged to grab
like an eagle;
nearly singing out your winning word —
” L I F E !”
..   s o k o o t   ..


And I?
I sat with my lips pursed tight.
Rolling beneath my tongue my words —
“Loneliness..    Longing..    Love..”
Brava, my love, my fine Poet!
You rhymed well.
You chose well.
After all, in the final Baithbazi of our Life,
You have finally won!
You have finally won!
~ IZ ~


* Bait Bazi – an Urdu verbal game of reciting poetry by two opponents, in which the last letter of the last verse is given to the opponent to begin his next verse with.

* Mehfil – evenings of courtly entertainment, especially where poetry or classical music is performed in an intimate setting for a small audience. 

* Sokoot – silence in Farsi / Persian 

.. Of wine and cemeteries

 in my grave
There’s a wine I had drunk without you;
lying between two tombstones in my cemetery.
This weight of soil,
pinning my body to the earth
like an anchor on a sea-bed
has now become my sojourning Tavern.
I sit with Ghalib and drink all night.
I lament with Rumi and whirl till dawn.
Each time I see your face;
shuddering and shivering
through the empty night sky,
I fly to you…
I fly to you, like a drunken kite —
swaying from side to side.
even with my clay tethered to the ground,
I am still drawn to you,
.. like an anvil to iron
.. like an ebb tide to moon.
~ IZ ~


* Ghalib: eighteenth century, popular Urdu poet. Rumi: thirteenth century famous poet and Sufi mystic.

.. Of us, two handwritten Love-letters

We were
two Handwritten-Love-Letters,
in a world
of cold toneless screens.
As soon as
our fingertips bled ‘lovable words’
on smooth shimmering glass;
our meanings shattered ..
.. and we fell —
stuck to the sharp edges
of cut letters —
back into our own creased envelopes.
Little by little,
the splinters slashed our paper.
Little by little,
their edges tore us into shards.
with stamps without seals
with addresses without roads;
‘Qismet’ knew not
where to deliver us.
a pair of
Love-Letters we remain
.. forever forgotten..
in the abandoned old mail-sack
of Life’s only Postman.
~ IZ ~

.. Of rooms without homes

Shall I now awaken the slumbering melodies
on the dusty keys of my old piano?
They have lost their memories of dance.
Just like I have left somewhere,
and misplaced the whereabouts of my life.
You see, sometimes Lyrics too are amnesic.
But, there is a corner in my house,
where sits a ‘lonesome room’,
which has never seen a ‘home’ before.
And every dawn,
just before the ‘Azan’ punches a hole
in the night sky,
I walk into that room and console it —
telling stories of how Music once had memories,
.. and how that forsaken piano —
pushed into a cold corner of hers
used to play soulful symphonies
of two lovers,
who once saw in her,
their “Only Home”.


~ IZ ~


* Azan – the rhythmic prayer call of muslims.