Sometimes, I think of god as a lover of music
listening to the poetry of our lives
listening to the minor falls
and the major lifts
and to those who loved too much.
What a symphony
we shall be.
These matters of mysticism
Ye tirā bayān ‘ġhālib’
These discourses of yours, Ghalib
Tujhe ham valī samajhte
We’d judge you a saint
Jo na bāda-ḳhvār hotā
If you weren’t an alcoholic
Ghalib, Ye na thi hamari qismat ki visal-e-yar hota (It just wasn’t my kismet to meet my lover)
searching for it at night
searching for it in brothels
searching for it in bottles of Murree’s finest on cold winter evenings
searching for it on walks through the city
walking through the humid streets of your childhood
by the park where you first kissed her
behind the queen-of-the-nights;
you will ask for them on your deathbed
to your tired, ravaged mind they will only be
of something you knew, once,
walking through the graveyard
where your grandfather lies
and his father
and his father before him
and you, too, someday
(if you like)
under the big banyan tree
that your grandmother told you was haunted
by a family of djinn
and you’d search for them during the hot afternoons
for three whole summers;
they say every love story is a ghost story
and if that’s true
who will you love?
who will you haunt?
to the mosque by the sea
where you found God one day
found him on the sea breeze
that came in through the broken windowpane
of that poor fishermen’s mosque
and kissed you on the forehead as you knelt
and you kneel again
please, you say,
but there is no breeze tonight
so you sit there
cross-legged on the dusty woven mat
and look through another broken windowpane
at the rising sun
and the fishermen as they row in
from nights spent
on the dark waters
and you see the morning star
and you see the Ursids flash by
and something flutters in your heart, then
and you are alright, then;
what a strange thing you are,
what a strange, strange thing you are.
For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.
Lord Byron, So, we’ll go no more a roving
All these books in my library — lives lived
out, words spent, atria emptied of their
blood. I see them and realise that I do not
have much time. But, like all the rest, I am
bound in webs of responsibility and class
and aspiration. A small cottage by the beach
with a well-stocked library and a fire in the
hearth where we could spend our evenings
before the dark descends. And, perhaps,
there is where I’ll have the time to ponder over
the mysteries of the Sufis. Why do the stars
call me so? Why does the sea, why do old
houses, and old books, and saudade call me so?
The dreams of another life… almost
forgotten… breaking on the shores of my
heart, and I… I frantic, searching among the
ruins and the driftwood for a compass to guide
me home. Home? The place I yearn for when I
hear someone playing A minor softly, clear as
a bell, through the sweet, sad sounds of static
on old radios. In a short time, this will be a
long, long time ago…
some nights the wind whistles
through the old lighthouse and
in the town below the mothers
tuck in their children and close
their shutters and watch their
fires till dawn.
some nights you tell me stories
of the village graveyard with the
night watchman and the magic
stick whose tip-taps are the
measure of the night.
some nights the stars are so close
that you forget. i dream of old
souls haunting the highways of
the heartland. this late, love,
the night belongs to students
and the stars.
some nights i hear a piano; two
notes hesitant in the dark. your
name is now a stranger on my
lips. how could it come to this?
how could it come to this?
Why do you love lighthouses
what’s with all those maps of distant islands
and those other ones of the stars.
I don’t know
I miss somewhere
maybe that’s how nostalgia was born.
Adam’s lament for home and we
why do you sift the desert sands
you will not find Layla there.
And Majnun said:
I search for her
in the hopes of finding her
In this age of starships and relativity
as we journey out into the dark
we should not be surprised if
on another world
our ships land on other shores and
beneath alien suns
we find our old friend Majnun
sifting through those alien sands
When I cock my ear
I hear tunes that come from far away,
from the past,
from other times,
from hours that are no longer
and from lives that are no longer.
Perhaps our lives
are made of music.
On the day of resurrection,
my eyes will open again in Seville.
Boabdil, the last king of Muslim Spain
The Moors ruled Spain for seven hundred years
and you ruled my heart for seven. On moonless
nights, ghosts alight, and dream of Andalusia,