Selected Poems II


Jameela Nishat

Poem translated by Uma D. Sridhar

I walked upon shards
And reached my tent
The paper opened its arms 
My eyes shed blood
And words began to take shape

Poem translated by Hoshang Merchant

Wearing a Burqa

Wearing a burqa I took a degree, Also took to computers And outshone others easily. Ammi was happy, Abba was very happy. Hadn't I lifted Sinai single-handedly? To crush the world underfoot was my heart's desire. Each breath said, become a conqueror, an Alexander in burkha! I went out to have fun. Entering the cinema I was stopped by the moral squad wagging their rods. Hey young girl, burkhas not allowed entry. Black smoke rose from my black mask and off the burkha went!

Poem Translated by Kelly Jo Cigman

Rising one by one

Rising one by one the corpses set out Bathed in the light of the western moon The bones washed away The air is filled with a new chemistry Breaking a fresh star with each footstep There can be no more compromise Death cannot reign thus any more Bombs unceasingly made and scattered across the earth People dying and rising from graveyards Are you at peace having sold the country? The rivers afloat with our corpses The streets steeled with spilt blood Do you not see the corpses wherever you turn? Dealing with a python Sifting and selling each hope, one by one You sold the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea Selling your country How are you at peace with yourself? From the shore the fisherfolk speak. Our corpses fill the ocean The worn-out bones rising and tossed by the waves. We dart through the ocean like currents Who can escape the fisherman's net? What if you sell our uranium? Hiroshima and Nagasaki can happen again. The slumber is deep, but the people cannot sleep All are innocent but none ignorant No, not drunk nor forgetful Again Bhopal speaks We are dead; no one could kill us Crippled, we walked to Delhi There can be no more compromises.