1983

Art by Kim Dorland

We were at a juncture where two roads met and one fell out of land,
I thought it best to stick to the line but a boy I liked had too many wild bones:
“hold my hand and walk”.

He said,
And I looked at the river stretched in front of me – and I looked back at him;
He was too sure and I held my breath more than I could focus on his hand encircled around mine.

We closed our eyes instinctively,
His wings flashed and I watched the wild bones plop into ripples one after the other,
His breath caught the surface once, twice-
I stood on the bank, shivering like a leaf, my insides twisted as a twig.

Everyone else was already at the wooden cabin,
I arrived in the line shrouded in a towel, the prying eyes nibbling at my flesh felt like razor-sharp teeth:
I held on to my breath and everything disappeared.

“She tried to drown herself on the first day of summer camp! Get down here, it’s serious”.
The twisted mint green telephone cord reminded me of mother’s hair and mine,
I tried to see her as kind as I was: It was only a matter of time when my eye would be a purple orb, a redolent swell,
Like that one time I lied about saving a dead bird

after
killing it.

where is our son?
I save things,
“We’ve looked everywhere. They were told to stay together but he wandered off”.
I saved you;
“It’s exactly like that Richard girl back in ’83”.
The wild bones and the winged breath,
No more broken orbs and purple wounds:
“Don’t give me that bullshit and go find my son!”;
I saved you.

‘Summer Camp 1983: First Ever’
the diary entry ends.

-Nameera Anjum Khan.

Pain (#15)

Image: Unsplash

Before I lose any more time

Here is a sight that would not lose you amidst a crowded loneliness

Because it sees you, beyond the clouds covering your haunted visage

It’s the beating of a heart going berserk

Each minute is a dreadful wailing of an infant dragging its frail body as fast as it can

Each second is a woman screaming at her face in the mirror, she doesn’t recognise the other one – why is she disappearing?

I want to see, I thought I did but it was only wishful thinking

I only sought your pain to dab my ink in something different, thinking that it would help me make a difference –

And now my pages have become tales of darkness that had nothing to do with me

My vision has become the periphery to a loneliness I thought I could erase,

Because pain comes with a filthy shell that only morphs into an addiction upon peeling through the layers;

Thus, I erase my words to make space for your yours – I ignite my dark nights to revel in yours.

Pain makes for the most beautiful conversations, and even more meaningful connections – like a poem that writes itself without even needing your consent, your voice or your ink. It simply breathes in its way, in its own space.

-Nameera Anjum Khan


Of Silly Ruminations

Art by Chugtai M.A.R

I want to be an openness bending at the tip of the sunlight falling on my back. But I’m also afraid of burning in my own fire.

I carry my hostilities like a poet who adores perspiring on a hot sunny afternoon in the arms of an old monument that houses some grand secrets only he can see – and I can’t unsee. I’ve been his muse and his monument – sometimes a pillar draped in silk.

I yearn to be a vastness, much wilder than the blue skies. Someone once told me that I was silly to think of blue skies as wild, and I only laughed. How can you not see the calm that has rained, birthed storms and swallowed deaths? I realise that it’s indeed silly of me to think that people would see how I manage to carry this calm.

I don’t burn in my own fire. I invite other’s to ignite my flame so that I can master my art of living for others – because what is a woman without a role?

Simply a human? No, that is deeply silly of me, indeed.

-Nameera Anjum Khan.


So yes, day 9 is over, where I live and I really did not want to break my flow. Hence, I quickly looked up this enthralling work of art to inspire me today!

This one is a take on gender roles – particularly the one’s attached to a woman. It takes inferences from the Indian culture as well and the thinking of a family/culture-oriented woman who is made to feel suppressed because of her desires for freedom.

Sometimes, things that reflect a particular emotion aren’t exactly what they’re composed of, the blue skies for example that are not always blue or calm, for that matter.

I always feel that seasons and nature is a very great way to deeply understand human emotions in a poetic light. Hence my obsession with them is pretty evident in this piece too!

Thank you for reading, have a great day/night!

Fantasies & Fiction

There’s a fantasy, at the surface of my spine

It flutters into your arms like a Gothic Romance choking on its own saliva

I spill the rainbows that you planted in my bladder ~ an acid leaves my body crawling on all fours,

There’s a lullaby growing in my belly & with every kiss, you extract a note from it until every syllable is infused with your name

A name this territory knows all too well, a fantasy that speaks my name like it’s the only poetry that matters; the only fiction worth realization.

-Nameera Anjum Khan

of independence & french fries

i grew up as independent as the roof on my head,
but i still needed the walls to float

i sometimes feel like the plants sitting
outside my window,
just observing my life
maybe this is just an astral lie
or maybe im a stray dog looking for a
shed to sleep under

im a window breaking a thousand times
just to come to terms with this strange insult that is growing
in my poems

im the eye balls rolling on the ground
and disappearing under the carpet, a
divorced paper waiting for a signature

significance,
i like big words and synonyms, i wish i
could find one for my brain
i wish i could nurse the soil that
weakens the bold cracks that are quick
to assume the joy in
every dark shade
of life

this out of control window to my soul
makes me want to fall into a sickness,
i can’t name it tonight
it’ll be a different poem tomorrow

let it fester, let it fester like the fading
smell of french fries on a wintry afternoon,
my little revenge lives every season but
in winters, it eats me

i wish it would chew me too but it eats
me whole
(greedy bitch)
in a stomach, i write about a heart
pretending to be my roof

i write about the bliss sliding under my
clothes, it’s too cold for it to come out, it
sleeps

i grew up independent, inside myself
i grew up, in as much space as i could
take and they could give,
i outgrew
i died;

in the throat of grief, as she drank sobs
to encounter cracked ceilings and
disfigured djinns coming out of their
holes in my bedroom wall

french fries in the rain,
and a cup of tea, please.

-Nameera Anjum Khan

Of Women & Moonlight

A land that pushes women to the stature of a Goddess

Is also adept at pulling them down when necessary

This reminds me of necessities that arise out of despai

A colony of ants climb the hills that reek of sweet sanity

Between my knees are bruises that never healed

Between my palms are lines of sweat that never left any empty space

‘Push, push, push’ – “It’s a moonlight wailing in birth and blood!”

How do I tell them,

That it’s the moonlight wailing at the prospect of illuminating silently, humming songs of anger that sound like sweet sanity?

It’s another bitter Goddess biting her fate, watching the poison take nefarious shapes in her throat

Until the day she takes back her throne,

Until then there’s only a sip of hope.

-Nameera Anjum Khan.

__________________________________

Weakening

Teal skies peeling off their skin
Their mouth is dripping with diamonds
They smell like paradise under the yellow sun
The chair is paper, it crumbles beneath my weight
My hair tastes of wood
Orange juice splattered across the counter
A broken hand caressing the flower vase
The floor is water and I slip
I slip until my legs turn into a pair of boats
Land comes to me and I can’t walk anymore

The moon cuts the lightening with her laughter
She is the color of your pale lover tonight
A tangerine suitcase of your vulnerabilities,
I unpack it and your image is complete.

-Nameera.

Staircase to Earth



Hell.

All this time, he spoke to me in varied hues of oranges and reds. He whispered in flames that burned my head, he moved about in a curfew that swept my need for fresh air. I am a tree, with a broken heart carved on my stomach. The knots of insomnia tighten around my thighs until I bleed Eve’s sin. Unholy birds perch upon my nape, they think my darkness is a home they’ll never find again.

Heaven.

The flowers here grow even more cheery while I paint them. They look like promises of something I haven’t seen yet. They whisper poetries that make no sense. The sun shines brighter than before and I can look at it, gaze into its soul. The moonlight becomes a passage to ballroom where love dances with fate. I watch it, I admire it from afar. I’m good here but so far away. Where is it that my bones ache to be?

Earth.

Home. Love. Life. Trauma. Death. So many colors that come without our choosing. If we chose black, white unfurls at the edge of our existence. If we chose red, green finds a way to our heart. We bind prayers upon our foreheads and paint heaven and hell. Our deeds paint us in either of the two. I sleep under a blanket of warmth, I’m in love. My bones don’t ache anymore. My bones say I’m home ~ on earth.

-Nameera.

Lucid

The shivers rose from the deepest folds of my skin
He said it was the ghost of my past and promised to make it go
The man inside my head laughed his head off
Since then, I’ve never seen his head clearly except for a blur in its place
Mother said a prayer to make the ‘things’ go away
While it was just a premonition of what my life was to be
The coarse voice screeched in my left ear & all I could do was pray for death
No, mother; prayers never come true, death never arrived
Instead, my battered chest swallowed the weight of the air until the voices stopped
The next afternoon there was a bony hand clutching at my throat,
I opened my eyes to the sunlight pouring in through the purple curtains of my room
There was still the stench of sleeplessness hovering about the air
I reached out to the man once more, when there was still some lost hope left
He told me to kill all of it
I did

Celestial Boundaries

I’ve allowed
Wormholes to breed
Inside me
Astronauts from
Distant universes
Travel down my
Throat each night
Leaving a scent of
Their cosmos upon
My lips

My shoulders bend
From these weightless
Clouds
A clot of inertia rests
In the back of my
Head

Petals wither
Where your touch
Once bloomed
My ribcage leaks
Stardust
I’m the universe
Exploding in your
Eyes
A deathless hangs
In the midst of our
Tragedy
It’s a black hole
Growing,
Darker
Denser
Deeper

Red is the color of love
Black is the color of eternity.