The poem and illustration is dedicated to Caro as a Christmas + New Year’s gift. (Click “Read More” for full poem.)
Stars apprise when come the night,
When zestful wings stumble from their plight
Of the bravest challenge and reckless bout,
But held their fists in doubt.
Dreams were great, stars were close,
But their wings forbid, their spirits froze.
Now, heaven was far, so far away,
And guilt marked his face betray.
Once truthful eyes pierced the haze,
And all reality bowed to his gaze;
Now tear-soaked truth lay in his sight,
But all he sees is the stumble and plight.
And to the angel’s gravest dismay,
He was forgotten, and dead to the day.
The following poem is an Aesthetic Rewrite of an Urdu poetry ‘Pighle Neelam Sa‘ by Javed Akhtar, and not a direct translation. Rewritten by Cyan Los.
Like molten blue float moments past,
That deep blue as silence cast,
No earth to land, no sky to glance,
In limbo I flow, lost perchance.
The rustle of leaves, the twigs and reeds
Have only to say that I’m here indeed.
Just me, my breath,
My beating heart.
And I’m lost in depth uncertain,
Lost in solitude, alone, unburdened,
As I sense that pulse in my wrist,
I have come to believe that I exist.
Oh, what do I tell thee, mate? What do I tell thee?
I looked upon the follies of the world
And there was a lot I had to say.
Then I saw the world knowing them already,
And realized I needn’t have said it.
So what do I tell thee? What is it that I have to say?
Greetings, lads and lasses yonder!
Audience I plead for a story to tell
Of a boy who chased a mistletoe,
Though his heart unrequited fell.
Trickster, varmint, rascal was he,
His mischief, aloft with furtive smiles,
He stole cheer, then pennies thence,
And he stole pardon with devil’s wiles.
Kingdoms wise, though he was sly,
The Baron chained his relentless spite,
But all her sermons went misprized
And the boy fled the daunting plight.
He faked a cry, he spoke a lie,
His vision a bubble; He was the Sun.
But brazen he broke a vision box,
And he broke into a mortal run.
His mother apprised, she beckoned
Her son, with cinder unmet eyes,
And he wove his wily tales, indeed,
And fled her wrath with vivid lies.
But her distress had in his heart
Sown the guilt; the guilt did grow.
It bloomed into a helpless wish
But the box forever lost its glow.
His eyes, ripened by restless tears,
Sought the golden-ager wise;
To his Grandpa he implored
To help soothe his mother’s cries.
“Lie to her, and lie again,”
Said the wise of wrinkled skin,
“If need be, lie a hundred more.
Spare yourself. Betray your kin.”
The boy, perplexed, stood his ground;
Did Grandpa mock his callous lark?
“Why must I lie, break her heart,
And forsaken her in the dark?”
“Truth is to strength,” the ager spoke,
“Where courage, will and honor upraise.
Truth can mend, make things whole,
But truth has price no saner pays.
It’s trenchant rays cut open wounds,
Trampling secret animosities wild.
Even grown men cower from the truth;
You, my boy, are but a child.”
“Enough!” The child cried and ran,
For truth of Truth he could not bear;
What caused his hopeless, feeble run?
Was his family not his own to care?
He was a child, and affection he craved,
But the phantom bubble began to tear.
Why mustn’t he own to his mistakes?
Why others endure his folly’s despair?
He braved into his mother’s sight,
Her eyes still vacant as her veers;
Unto her, he confessed his crimes,
And shut his eyes, and held his ears.
But fearsome whip had not yet come,
And he found himself in warm embrace.
Her broken heart was whole again,
And mercy shimmered on blissful grace.
The bubble burst, his vision cleared,
Unto horizons did illusions retreat.
Truth appeared as a blinding sun,
And pierced the umbra of deceit.
He basked in the air not his own,
His paltry self beneath stars aglow.
What awaited yonder in limitless dark?
Why were people afraid to know?
Yonder lay secret roads unpaved,
Where none the saner dare to rake;
The path to truth was absolute,
The journey was his alone to make.
Treacherous hills, venomous traps,
For all he braved the heat and frost,
Swayed by vines and melancholy groves,
He chased uncertainty, and was lost.