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Rizwan Akhtar


Ghazal: Now No Ghazal Rhymes In Your Absence


Now there is a silence that swallows my words and rhymes
After the last ghazal I lost the way articulating power of rhymes

My memory is a cinder, ignites wind which inflames your hairs
woven intricate, your hands remove the last burnt out rhymes

the corner of the room is a pulpit where we often embraced
together reverently erected a temple for bodies seeking rhymes

The moonlit places render your image enveloped in a mystery
Ghazlas have found quaint tones and destinations for rhymes

In Northern winter I lusted over Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” –
Wept for couplets mimicking Mir; English Autumn—Urdu rhymes!

The dead bodies reek, bones giggle, and the skin sears on roads
bombs blow mosques, prayers scatter, Lahore is out of rhymes !

In The Royal Mosque we smiled secretly looking at many of His relics
Love was meant to be a tribulation, but separation with union rhymes

When dark nights descend on rekhta language invokes tears of lament
Ishaq houses bedewed eyes, feverish couplets; dissonance also rhymes.

The Beloved is remote, but the sound of anklets pealing floor continues
the heart receives meanings when she walks getting closer for rhymes

Now there are only my palms lifting like a replenished bowl of prayers
The poet adapted a soulful creed just to cleanse verses before rhymes.

Ghazal : Incarcerated

Unless the door left closed does not open at all, you are still incarcerated
Imagine the same fate ghazals endured for closure, them being incarcerated

How you mocked my boldness for running hands on your bare back
Never for a moment had you thought it was the soul in body incarcerated

the gazelle has lost touch with the heat, the desert and your pursuit
without arrows, without blood, it surrendered; our Cupid is incarcerated!

I have lit lamps in your memory at hazy peripheries of a remote shrine
wind quivers for wicks tapering at oily bottoms, flames incarcerated !

In English sojourn I mesmerized the Beloved with sonnets and serenades
back home in a rural yard she read them sobbing, tears in eyes incarcerated!

at The Royal Mosque during the Call for Prayer we bowed in  mutual silence
ghazals invoked reciprocal manifestations; couplets in trance are incarcerated!

Rekhta sings the virtues of a coquettish courtesan enticing a valiant beau
notorious for garroting with eyes, an élan for trophies, in tresses incarcerated!

In the vanishing twilight of December hedged by merlons of The Lahore Fort
reverberating anklets, a princess appeared flinging arms, for ages incarcerated

Under the Tower Bridge the faint swirling in thick tides stems the River Thames
the Union Jack consumes windy buffets; the Empire both free and incarcerated!

In Lahore, we roamed hand in hand flinching eyes preventing from conceiving
bred ghazals, nursed Urdu, mothered by English, hybrid and incarcerated

The fragrance He sent to you and me is rarer; do not overlook it for God’s sake!
The poet inhales it for ghazals breathing a long chain, by consent incarcerated.


*In the last couplet there is an allusion to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)



About Rizwan Akhtar

Rizwan Akhtar’s debut collection of poems Lahore, I Am Coming (2017)is published by Punjab Univeristy Press. He works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan. He completed his PhD in postcolonial literature from the University of Essex, UK in 2013. He has published poems in well-established poetry magazines of the UK, US, India, Canada, and New Zealand. He has also done a workshop on poetry with Derek Walcott at the University of Essex in 2010”.  Lahore, I Am Coming (2017) is the first Collection of poems of Rizwan Akhtar published by Punjab University Press, Lahore. Available online: