Love and Cheer in Tight Embrace

By Saba Mahjoor mid-day the spicy potatoes the black blanket on the floor dozing in and out of careless folly the milky sleep the mild heat blazing blue sky candy floss clouds the gentle breeze trees swaying a last secret green eyes blue veined hands a kiss on the lips a … Read more →

My silky silhouette

I What if one day I say, Love I’m tired of this pretend-perfection What if that day I unwrap My silky silhouette Unhook my gold earrings Scatter my pearl necklace Unknot my braids of reason Only to show you My scarred forehead Muddied hands Bruised knees My bright doll-house What … Read more →

Intisaab- Kashmir kay shuhda kay naam

Mohammad Huzaifa Pandit Badan dareeda huun aaj ki ghata bain karti hui aayi hai Yeh sham ki kasini chaon, dehleez pay pukartay saaye Aur dareechon ki na-beena tatolti aankhain Khoonrez hawaao.n main, boo-e-gham ki muntazir Ki aaj qatalgahon say shayad phir teray kakulon ki mehak aayi hai. Haan wohi mehak … Read more →

Two poems by Asiya Zahoor

Hawa Mahal Lal Chund shaped the Palace of Winds as Lord Krishna’s crown. He tamed the course of wind to swirl and keep cold the Queens of Kachwaha, snow shrouds on beds burning sand. “Follow me, Ma’am,” the guide said, “I‘ll show you nine-ninety-nine windows. Intricate lattice work, heavily colored … Read more →

At the Foothills

At the Foothills I gather my summer dreams tuck them in yearning for winter — my savior at the foothills hauling a burden of sanity I wander uphill, my delirious memories rest at the foothills a weaver worries, will pashmina slip through a razor-wire knot? At dawn, colored threads tremble … Read more →

A Poem by Ather Zia

Driving Without a License (lasan) in Kashmir The law has much blood on its talons. It’s especially ethical if you don’t have a lasan. Between background checks and grease-money, the lasan, leaking from the law’s stained teeth, is what you need, get it maybe never. Anyways, it’s a contrivance, a … Read more →

Three poems by Shirin Bismillah

Fused Thoughts From Moscow to New Delhi — we attempted To paint the flakes of cloud, intruding in the Unknown territories, reading Kafka. Sparrows who had a crisp morning dialogue For the last twenty years — had been looking for An empty branch and some action in Sheikh Sarai. From … Read more →

Four Poems by Farah Bashir

A Doppelgänger Then, you helped the lost ones overcome fear of floods urged them to forgive the river. Now, you curse the daffodils their violent scent makes you ache. ‘Who Your Fire Burns’ A neighbor heard you sing to me but you laughed not caring ‘jalte hain jiske liye’ I … Read more →

Meena Alexander

ON INDIAN ROAD In memory of Agha Shahid Ali, 1949-2001 I I have come drawn to water, Rooks in trees preparing for winter A glazed horseshoe dropped a century ago, Bits of arrowhead From those who lived on this land, Who thought the sun and moon beloved companions. We were … Read more →

Farah Bashir

AN EXPOSED BREAST Back to a void That fills lives To carry us over the abyss From another life Into spring ever the season Of empty streets No children No laughter No songs echo Freedom is a child A bride A child-bride A flower mutilated by a mortar A black … Read more →

Ta-Ha Mughal

I START TO TEASE MYSELF ABOUT EVERYTHING I walk barefoot on burning coals Children hoot and giggle I too hoot phyew phyooyew I too giggle khi’h khi’hh khi’hhh I look ugly naked I watch myself getting out of me I am in a labyrinth of mirrors I am in truth … Read more →


FROG IN A WELL The well is too shallow Water too cold Sometimes light reaches down Sometimes they keep it away Bricks and stones Are the only refuge I have Some flowers have bloomed Their color is black My croaks echo my fate— Stay forever in this well? Fidoic is … Read more →

Mushtaque Barq

AGAIN there’s a strike in Srinagar, paramilitary beating the iron, soft flesh of human hearts, using their special powers to kill. Again, clouds discover the sun and we are forced indoors, gates of isolation bolted, windows of pain flung open. Again, the breeze brings breaking news— a baby blinded in … Read more →

Aquib Hyder

I REMEMBER I remember my childhood caught in barbed wire I remember the smile of a child lost in a curfewed night I remember the echo of his mother’s wail I remember her tears waiting for her disappeared son I remember the bride’s gown stained by the blood of her … Read more →