Tag Archive: verse


fitting in,
acceptably hushed,

alienation photoshopped, airbrushed …

at home ?

not this rolling stone,
bruising my rattled self to the bone,

enveloped by walls,
as each evening falls,

shivering as desolate morning dawns,

painted smile,
shushing rising bile,

my fatigued soul yawns,
a being who fawns:

the perennial exile … … …

image

Banksy

the river rolls …

neither here nor there …

traversing the meandering bylanes of life

tears fall
through the cauldron of strife

memories like jagged shards of sorrow,

embedded
hewn

into a torrent of emotion

flow on
               and on

cascading over raw wounds

                reaching without
                seeking
peace
                within

clinging onto
filaments of hope

while hollow words

crawl
fade

mope

slinking away to settle
           on tattered scrolls

while life persists,

so long as the river rolls…

                 

The Interrupted Vision …

Straining to see,

the hummingbird that whispers,

the blade of grass that murmurs,

the fattened drops of summer rain,

falling.

Yearning to see,

that solitary palm on a long abandoned beach,

the coquettish ocean embracing the retreating sun,

the momentary mirth of a teasing twilight,

falling.

Aching to see,

that promise of hope,

as light fades,

flickering faintly,

in my unseeing eyes…

A Child of War …

a child of war…

 

as she lies bleeding

the girl who skipped and hopped to school

all of nine and a half years old

with ribbons in her hair and a laugh that was

her father’s pride

 

as she lies bleeding

the warm bullet lodged in her torn stomach

she stares at her skipping rope

as her blood soaks it the colour of the cherries her mummy buys

 

as she lies bleeding

she sees the people through the thick black smoke

blurred visions of scattering feet and shoes left behind

hearing nothing but the pinging in her blown-out eardrums

 

as she lies bleeding

she slips away quickly and then she is dead

a mangled heap of a nine and a half year old girl

whose laugh was her father’s pride

 

 

as she lies bleeding

for even in death she bleeds some more

the warm bullet wedged in her torn stomach

steals the light from her bright little eyes

as she lies bleeding

in jallianwala bagh in ‘19

leningrad in ‘42

freetown in ‘98

soweto in ‘76

jenin in ‘02

hanoi in ‘68

beirut in ‘85

raqqa now

basra still

gaza too

 

as she lies bleeding

this little nine and a half year old girl

whose laugh was her father’s pride

we know she’ll bleed and bleed some more

tomorrow and in many tomorrows yet unborn

with that warm bullet in her stomach

ripped open and torn

 

as she lies bleeding..

afzaljhb@gmail.com

Port of Call

Port of Call
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
with the breath of the ocean a caressing balm,
soothing pained memories away,
to the swaying of a solitary palm.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
feeling the brushing away of all past turmoil,
on a quest for solace, ever so hard to find,
yet comforted by the crashing of the waves,
as the tide cleanses all pain,
and leaves despair far, far behind.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
drenched in a sea-breeze of mist,
that hushes the ache of bygone moons,
tasting the salty tang on my lips,
as the burnished sun,
over the distant horizon,
swoons,
 
and dips.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
searching, ever searching,
for a slice of solitude,
as memory bids a final adieu,
reaching under the sea so vast,
and seeking comfort in the depths,
while embracing,
the tomorrows to come,
wishing that they be true.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
seeing my truths drown,
as they slip beneath the turquoise waters,
 
feeling my heart ablaze,
with a passion that rarely falters.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
yet knowing that I am home at long last,
wishing the waves would wash away,
the defences that once stood,
like an impregnable wall.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
I have found, at long last,
 
my final port of call.

work in progress. like life

She winked, and smiling with her eyes,
kissed my parched lips,

I could not return her kiss,

and though the years have spun their cobwebs,

fashioning vacuums out of forgotten dreams,

It is that kiss that I most miss.

Tonight, I lie awake,
lathered in layered memories,

of love lost, and of love gained,

of open skies,
and of rains crashing through my weak rhymes,

that have strained,
across the vast emptiness,

seeking absolution,
for my emotional crimes…

(This Scribble is a Work in Progress. Just Like Life)

The Beach of Promises

The Beach of Promises

1.

Fingers entwined, barely touching,
turquoise waters teasing your dancing toes,

strolling along that serene deserted beach,
our promised dreams within aching reach.

2.

Hands clasped, holding on,
sea-breezes tickling the nape of your neck

walking together, alone, vowing to never breach,
the dreams dreamed on that faraway velvet beach.

3.

Hands in my pockets, alone,
traces of you linger, teasing,

lost in my scribbles, your memory fading out of reach,

my thoughts ablaze, now and then,
catching a whiff of your fragrance,

wafting through alleyways of nostalgia,
your hand in mine on our pristine beach.

Where Wild Violets Grow

Where Wild Violets Grow

Scribbling these verses,
caressing your bare back,
simple rhymes,
flowing from my fingertips.

Scribbling verses,
sprinkling odes to fragrant promises,
your smile lightens the burdens,
off my heavy heart.

Scribbling verses,
soaked in countless kisses,
the moonlight waltzing on your skin.

Scribbling verses,
feeling you,
your love never ceases to flow,

through the streams of my mind,
to a place of our own,
where wild violets grow.

The Nameless

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Slipping through the sieve of history,

the nameless rest.

Not for the nameless are roads renamed, nor monuments built.

Not for the nameless are songs sung, nor ink spilled.

The nameless rest.

Their silent sacrifice,
quiet ordeal,
muted trauma,

remain interred,
amongst their remains.

The nameless rest.

Not for the nameless are doctorates conferred, nor eulogies recited.

Not for the nameless are honours bestowed, nor homages directed.

The nameless rest.

They rest within us,
they walk with us,

in every step that we tread.

They rest within us,
they walk with us,

for their spirit is not dead.

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“Your name is unknown, your deed is immortal”

– inscription at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier WWII in Moscow

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Special thanks to my dearest elder sister Tasneem Nobandla Moolla, whose conversations with me about life as a non-white person growing up in pre and post-Apartheid South Africa prompted me to write this dedication to the countless, nameless South Africans of every colour, whose sacrifices and dedication in the struggle against Apartheid tyranny must never be forgotten.

My sister’s middle name ‘Nobandla’ which is an isiXhosa name and means “she who is of the people” was given by her godfather, Nelson Mandela, my father’s ‘best-man who could not be, as Nelson Mandela was unable to-make it to my parent’s wedding as he was in jail at the time in the old Johannesburg Fort. This was the 31st December 1961.

My Madness, Me

Madness

Confined by this straight-jacket,
strapped in, numb and dumbed,
a washed-out, has-been, also-ran,

body, eyes, the equilibrium of mind,
rattling like stones in an old tin-can.

Still, I am,

I am,

and I am unchained,

my dreams taking flight, soaring,
above these claustrophobic walls,
of synapses, and dungeons of stone,

swooping through green valleys,
taking a detour to savour the joys,

soaked in torrential, evergreen memories,
of a younger man, with passion in his bone.

I am.

My wings unclipped, unshackled, free,

I am, and though I am unable to see,

I am.

At long last,

me.

The Sound of Distant Ankle Bells

Memories of those delicate tinkling bells,
casually fastened around calloused feet,

take hold of my waking moments,

and fling my thoughts back to a distant time,
where folk-songs were heartily sung,
joyful, yet hopelessly out of rhyme.

I barely saw her, a construction labourer perhaps,
hauling bricks, cement, anything, on a scorching Delhi day,
while in the semi-shade of a Gulmohar tree, her infant silently lay.

A cacophony of thoughts such as these swirl around,
yanking me away from the now, to my cow-dung littered childhood playground.

Now, a lifetime of displacement has hushed the jangling chorus of the past,
to a faint trickle of sounds, as distant as an ocean heard inside tiny sea-shells,

and,

I know, that the orchestral nostalgic crescendo, rises, dips, and swells,
as tantalisingly near, yet a world of time away, as were the tinkling of her ankle-bells.

She

She smiled, gently,
her warmth infusing me,
with a serene stillness of time.

She settled, slowly,
in my waking thoughts,
a soothing balm of simple joy.

She remains, scribbled,
on the walls of my fractured heart,
memories of happiness that once breathed…

…and is no more

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The Petty Posh-Wahzee – Liberation & Ostentation

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The Not-So Distant Past:

The fallen fighters for freedom, are unable to turn in their graves,
their battered, fragmented bones, mixed with a handful of torn rags,
are all that remain, a mute reminder of their selfless valiant sacrifice.

They endured brutal Apartheid harassment, detentions without trial,
torture in the cells, and mental anguish when loved ones disappeared,
they left their homeland, to continue the struggle against racial bigotry,
while countless others fought the scourge of white-minority rule at home.

Nelson Mandela and many, many others, spent their lives imprisoned,
on islands of stone, and on islands of the cruellest torture, yet they stood,
never bowing, never scraping, they stood, firm for ideals for which they were prepared to die,

and many, many comrades did die, at the hands of the callous oppressor,
and many, many comrades perished in distant lands, torn from their homes,
while the struggle continued, for decades, soaked in blood, in tears, in pain.

The Present:

19 years have passed, since freedom was secured at the highest of prices,
delivering unto us, this present, a gift of emancipation from servitude,

a freedom to walk this land, head held high, no longer second-class citizens,
in the land of our ancestors, whose voices we hear and need to heed today.

I do not care much for fashion, Lewis-Fit-On and Sleeves unSt.-Moron,
yet the ostentation that I witness baffles even my unsophisticated palate,

our ancestors’ plaintive whispers are being dismissed, left unheeded, as
we browse the aisles for more and more, always for more and yet more.

Asphyxiated by the excess of the Petty Posh-Wahzee, we find ourselves,
perched precariously on the edge, of a dissolution of all that is humane,

babies go hungry, wives are battered, our elders left in hospitals for hours,
I cringe as I scribble these words, perhaps too sanctimonious and preachy,

yet I know, deep in the marrow of my brittle bones, I know, I know, I know,
this tree of freedom planted by the nameless daughters and sons of Africa,

needs to be shielded, nurtured, protected from our very own baser impulses,
so that the precious tree of freedom, may bear the fruit that may feed us all,

for if not, then we are doomed, to tip over, and into the yawning abyss, we shall fall.

The Tears of the Clown

A veil of smiles,
worn effortlessly.

Tuning out the blurring din,
alone in the cackling throng,

never hoping to belong,
though pining to fit-in.

Peeling off the thin facade,
feeling the pained charade,
melting into the dim parade.

Trickling effortlessly down,
over the strained contours,

of a spurious laugh,

the tears of the clown,

rehearsed, rehashed,

form an unending cold stream,
dissolving the lingering traces,

of this simple boy’s dream

Within Me

Flowing through the rivulets of my everyday thoughts,
memories of you surface, gasping for air, breathing in,
permeating, absorbed by the pores of my ageing skin.

Famished, greedily gulping mouthfuls of fractured life,
awash in distant yesteryear, when your feathery kisses,
banished the vacuum, dispelling my anguish and strife.

You are eternally carved, and embroidered into my soul,
I wash ashore, smashing against the boulders of the now,
seeking solace, begging for absolution with my empty bowl.

The book of fate is sealed shut, the tea-leaves have been read,
nothing remains within me, the burden of smiling has been shed.

Now I am stranded, between dreams and the empty years ahead,
searching for forgiveness, in the miles I have yet to wearily tread.

You and I.

You.

Your heart blazed,
with a warmth of spirit,

soothing,

alluring,

soaked in truth.

Your smile burned,
branding me permanently,

gentle,

tender,

enveloping my being.

Your love was complete,
from the depths of your soul,

unsaid,

yet fierce,

bathed in silent knowing.

Your dreams were poetic,
fluttering in the afternoon breeze,
infused with the distilled essence of rhyme.

I.

I squandered your generosity of spirit.

I vainly discarded your priceless poetry.

Now I stand,

alone,

empty,

desolate,

wasting away,

rotting inside, day by day.