A new poetry book (2019) by Kashmiri poet Qaiser Bashir is out. Kashmir Lit has a few poems for you to read from the book. You can buy it here on Amazon
On a leafless bough,
sits a nightingale crooning
a most mournful song
in memory of its garden,
that grows: sobs, tears and sorrows!
A candle, sitting like a minaret
On the windowsill of my room, painted
My silhouette on the wall;
I happened to see the silhouette
That danced, as I tossed back and forth
On the edge of my walnut wood bed.
I glued my gaze at it and said,
‘O dear candle, who has taught you this?’
There came not a reply,
But a gentle tapping on the window.
Then, there was a pin drop– I could hear
The lub-dub, lub-dub of my heart.
Open the window… or we’ll break it!
I lost my breath. And thought: who could they be?
Then there was a bang– a window broke into shards;
And in barged a pack of human wolves, faces veiled.
They caught me. Sealed my mouth. Tied my legs
And arms. And scourged me!
I screamed. And I yelled such
That from our kitchen my mother and father ran
And woke me up.
Ah’ it was morning. And I, in my bed.
In Our Courtyard
O foreign birds, all is not alright in our courtyard!
Come not over: a battle they fight; in our courtyard!
The dogs, grandfather brought to chase away enemies
now at our flesh bite, in our courtyard!
Every day and night, our windows and doors they break
when we just say: let’s set things right, in our courtyard!
Our peace longing cries reach well to our Good neighbours,
yet Kan Jung they do with greater delight, in our courtyard!
For how long shall we mourn the lost Happiness, Zoran?
Pray– swept away is our plight, in our courtyard!
Tonight, I Wish
Tonight, I wish I sing
with a host of winking stars,
in the dark beautiful moonless sky!
Tonight, I wish I wing
over the seas, hills
and plains like free birds–
praising Him, our Lord, so high!
Tonight, I wish I transform
into swallows, numberless–
so that ammunition laden monsters,
I invade and destroy!
Tonight, I wish I float
like a chinar leaf
on the waters of Dal
and our burdens, our sorrows I cry!
On the strands
of unsung lakes
and forgotten dales,
snow falls to balm the burns
of the soil and souls
living a life:
devoid of meaning,
A Proof, That We Suffered Much!
O’ moon, spread your warm arms
and hug the cold, lonely souls
wandering, here and there, for warmth!
Darling hyacinths, pay call on tonight
and stitch our cuts
with adamantine threads
of your aromas!
Undiscovered isles, refuge the birds
of burning gardens
in your soothing thickets,
and glue their cries
on every damask petal, as testimony!
Come morning breeze
hold our woebegone sighs
in your hands, rinsed in dew;
and after we are gone, incise them
on our headstones– a proof,
That we suffered much!
In Memory of Aasifa
With a horse and her innocent courage,
she plodded unto meadows green:
To guide the horse to graze
under the sky clear and the sun ablaze.
A little fairy of years eight
roved here and there like a hart,
loved the fragrance morning breeze brought.
She danced with butterflies white
and hummed tunes that lit her face bright.
Amid the beauty of lush meadows,
a storm that murdered her joys rose:
A host of human hounds trapped
her fragile, nubile body
and by them, she was multiple times raped
in a temple, in front of a blind and deaf god.
Hardy’s Tess-Aasifa-was not:
That a reader would say– she too enjoyed
the moment like Tess; and so, feigned a sleep.
“Baba, Baba”, Aasifa continually cried
till they hit her head with a stone; ah’ she died!
No, no, Aasifa, you are not dead,
but alive in our memory like
Kunan and Poshpour in books:
Our blood stained history.
In the city of lights,
I lost my way
And landed in a heap of uncertainties.
As the night fell, I sat
under a tree:
astray and solitary;
and beheld the moon,
descending like blood from a cut on a finger.
Like me, she looked fraught
and lost; but unlike me,
there was a rapturous warble
on her parched lips,
which inspired me to move on.
From the Eyes…
From the eyes of a matron,
living alone in a cottage forlorn,
creeks of freshwater seeped down
to heal all of her scars,
grown years ago on her cheeks:
when the only flower,
that had bloomed in her garden,
was butchered in paddy fields,
in a countryside—a hot zone
of dread and terror;
by men, unknown!
After rains, that afternoon in August
appeared a rainbow; from it, I
borrowed red ink and scribbled a sigh–
Why do our birds (so young!) die?
A singer, I had known rather a long ago
called on us; lyrics of Habba Khatoon– our star;
he hummed like bulbuls atop a gigantic chinar.
How could I enjoy them, in the middle of a war?!
In the dwelling of my heart, a thought
sprouts as blossoms on a naked apple tree,
when a blast of wind whizzes by, so free–
Will the wind dismantle the walls of tyranny?
Qaisar Bashir has a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Kashmir University. He is also an educator and translator. His poetry has been published in reputed journals like The Criterion, Langlit, Muse India, Setumeg and atunispoetry.com amongst others. Qaiser has also translated a Kashmiri novel “Akh Dour” (Once Upon a Time) by Bansi Nirdoush.