The blessed endures your grace, the unfavored takes flight.
Charmed by your glances are braves, only a coward takes flight.
Love wants its hidden treasure revealed to the beloved, in Night-
Kissed journey, Buraaq rides the wind, the angels take flight.
I lose day after day like a tree losing leaves in the autumn,
With the wings of days and nights, time silently takes flight.
Zafar1 strews elegies into the rosary, cuffed around his wrist.
Words, crowned with grief, let the wingless bird take flight.
Bano2 died in her father’s shrine, the words enshrined in books.
Placing many under smudged time, history too takes flight.
The palaces become jails, harems irrevered by travelled dogma
Leaving the garden fixed with snares, royal birds take flight.
The night is ensnared in the bosom of thick feathery clouds.
Winged with hope, flickering up the sky my fancies take flight.
The ink in my eyes dried up, and scrolls left blank, untouched.
Silence writes on my soul your name, and words take flight.
To torch civility, avarice prowls the land of gold, history
Crumbled into the closet of blood, here the Empire takes flight.
Abraham puts the slaughtered birds on the hills for a miracle,
Graced with divine power, the birds cloth flesh, briskly take flight.
Some cling to the ground like ants, sight pinned to the lowest,
The rest, to touch the heights of truth, curiously take flight.
“Glory to Lord”3, settles on fragrant breeze of each morning.
Chattering the dawn in mysterious songs, every bird takes flight.
Risen out of the dust as a bird, Jesus turns: dead to life, grief
to heal, then his wings up to heaven and secretly takes flight.
1The Moghul emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar
2Gul Bano, daughter of Mirza Dara Bakht, the former crown prince of Bahadur Shah.
3The translation of “Subhan Allah”, a prayer in Arabic
Where Are You?
Besides you, in my Ghazal, who’ll find motif, where are you?
Heart jewel stolen by your eyes, O thief! Where are you?
The debt is stealing money from my pockets, O dreamers!
New Empire’s bank will give me relief? Where are you?
Desdemona sings her sorrow before willow, “just stolen
Your stories, our trust, my handkerchief, where are you”?
When will the dust of my street kiss your feet?
When will you come? This life so brief. Where are you?
Joseph sees the sky in the well of his eyes, “Is it a revenge,
O father! Or the brothers playing mischief? Where are you?”
The carvaan left me wandering in the desert, your name
My fingers inscribe on the sand of grief, where are you?
Your voice stuck in my throat, words choked my breath,
My beloved, release my soul for relief, where are you?
The birds which gave me wings to fly, are caged now,
Oh God! words frozen in disbelief. Where are you?
Qazis have become ‘Qaido’1, broken is the flute of justice,
Today’s Heers are calling for the Chief, “Where are you?”
See, Mansur’s2 ecstasy, smiling at fortune, he’ll be hanged
For your name in the name of belief, where are you?
The autumn bereaved me of Edenic crown, my nakedness
Dressed by words like fig leaves, where are you?
1 Qaido, a character in Waris Shah’s Work Heer
2 Mansur al-Hallaj (d. 922) was “a Sufi who died on the gallows. He is famous for having made the utterance ‘I am the Truth’ while experiencing mystical ecstasy, and later traditions identify this as the reason why he was executed”.