12:00 AM, August 20, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 08:39 AM, August 20, 2018

Star literature eid special issue, 2018

POETRY

FOUR POEMS

MASUD MAHMOOD

I

One day Poetry flirted with her fool

The fool played truant from school.

Birds and trees, flowers and a flute

Were all he had besides solitude.

Days dazzled his face with sunlight

Nights dabbed darkness under his eyes.

He was solitary and suspect to everybody

People whispered about him in the streets.

Everybody said he wasn't social, normal—

He must be examined and analyzed

For he was too dangerous and fatal,

He ought to be quarantined, put on trial.

One day he vanished to confirm suspicion

All decided he was too infectious, an alien.

 

II

A journey by train was an exam essay

Until my mom said good bye to me

And saw me off In tears in the rain.

Father put on a brave face as a father must

When it's required of adult obligation.

The train picked me up

And longer hours than the exam

I journeyed my essay to destination.

How time flies had never a feather

Until the present was a whir and flurry

And wind kneaded it into a winged creature

That flew into the darkness behind

Like the wizard of Oz in Dorothy's nightmare.

III

We had a thin time of it

When I lost my job

And you decided

To mother a baby

To fill in your vacancy.

I lost a job but got yours,

Pampering the lover,

Nursing the mother,

The fetus In progress.

I became the warden

Of the unbearable burden,

Felt your growing weight

By extension of sympathy.

I lived three lives:

Mine, yours, ours.

Yet we had worlds

Of our own lived apart.

We stretched ourselves to the limit

Yet suffering left a little residue in it

Something too private to transmit

That defeats or dodges attempts

Registered only in our faded memory.

 

IV

The prophet speaks in parable

But only fable they understand,

Morals with edifying tales

Delivered by wise animals.

(Aesop was an animal divine

While he gave a ride on stories

Instead of the drunken god's wine.)

The prophet saith, seeing

They see not, hearing hear

They not, hence the parables.

I speak, weaving meaning

Thread by thread of tales: you're

Too carnal, craving only the kernel

And cast the shells with the tales.

Seeing their perplexity, undone

The prophet teaches methodology:

Their meaning, he says, is outside,

Not in! Why do ye whine or pine for

What is not within?

Meaning wraps the tale,

And not the other way round, or ye fail;

For seeing ye see not, hearing hear ye not.

Eat the apple – stones, rind and kernel,

Till the specter of the tree rises before you

Like Aladdin's djinn, like ye see mist

Caught in spectral moonshine.

Truth isn't the parable, though throwing

The tale banishes it book, bell and candle.

 

Masud Mahmood is a Professor of English, Chittagong University.


THREE POEMS

SABRINA MASUD

1.

Mother,

Don't give birth

Your womb is barren

It only incubates howls and thirst.

If you can, give birth to a monster

Or two. When it tears you from limb

To limb, at least you would know

The reason why. Yet if you must,

Give birth to an orphan please,

At least you can fall down by her cheeks

In laughter, in fears.

Mother,

You aren't needed

Life knows what it seeks.

Let your hair soak up the setting sun

Let your tired feet rest by the moonlit dunes

Home is no longer here Mother,

It is no longer your womb.

 

2.

and am I supposed to fear drowning?

now that I have been born of water?

I try to believe in particles

they don't want to be seen,

and you tell me to live in a world

where dog Kannals echo children's cries

so I want a god or two to switch my dreams

and make nightmares more tangible;

where do I hide the guilt of knowing

how do I rationalize life without death,

do not speak to me of rebirth

I work hard to forget all that is seen.

the ocean is endless they say

I only know the waves at my feet

even then the dried salt bite the cheeks

and disappear when the wind comes home.

 

3.

The quite of a sleeping night

have you seen it scrounge beauty,

under the orange dome of a street light?

The moths drank of it plenty, the moths

drowned in frenzy, I ate their fluttering

wings of quest, a silent fix, of a somber

sickness, but not of a disease, sort of hunger,

not a decay, a kind of longing, for the day.

Nights are endless, but a day, lasts,

a glimpse, a flickering neon shade, a trembling

of a mind, a collapse of a temple made in Eden,

watch the terracotta army, poised, like an

emperor's eternal soliloquy, a suspended wave

in a tomb, a night curled under the lamp post,

a requiem.

 

Sabrina Binte Masud is a regional winner for the international BBC radio drama competition and a Fulbright scholar. She is also the coordinator of creative writing groups called Brine Pickles and Golpo-Kotha.


SIBLINGS

RUBAIYAT KHAN

 

As we ran up

And down

The stairs of

Our childhood home,

I remember dark,

Glistening catfish,

Livid, as they 

Thrashed  inside

Our pale blue bucket.

 

Quietly, our pale blue bucket:

It brims with murky water --

A petulant child,

Promising each time

To spill over.

 

Stowed away

In a corner of some

Inconsolable dampness,

Where memories remain

In our grandmother's

Red tiled kitchen floor.

 

Rubaiyat Khan is a creative writer and poet currently residing in Dhaka. Rubaiyat is also a loving pawrent to two sinfully spoiled cats.