Four Poetry

    by Tanveer Anjum

    Madam Minister’s Power-Point File

    By Tanveer Anjum, translated from the Urdu by Tanveer Anjum

    For the power point presentation of the Madam Minister
    Before the UNO
    Which pictures should be selected?

    All street urchins look alike
    Choose whichever ones you like

    The veiled faces of women look alike
    Choose whichever ones you like

    The faces of clerics hidden behind beards look alike
    Choose whichever ones you like

    Mutilated bodies after bomb blasts look alike
    Choose whichever ones you like

    For the madam minister’s power point presentation
    What design should be selected?
    What colors should be used?

    The options are countless
    Call an expert

    An Ant on a Bedspread

    By Tanveer Anjum, translated from the Urdu by Afzal Ahmed Syed

    When it is not the time of year for ants to be seen
    How come an ant, out of the blue,
    Appears on the bedspread
    In the vast terrain of the double bed
    Wandering as if lost
    Morose with solitude
    Manifestly bewildered
    An ant by herself
    Unaware of her transgression
    Of interrupting my reading
    This helpless creature
    Does not comprehend
    To escape what agony
    I had picked up the book

    Moving speedily
    In one direction head on
    She abruptly turns to another
    And then to another
    This is no longer a secret
    That she has no clue of her destination
    Or of her direction

    My finger chases her
    Like a god
    And whenever it feels like
    To be amused by
    Her added panic
    It can stand before her like a rock
    And can compel her to change her direction
    And run even more speedily

    I, the sadist
    On some slip of her
    Or on being tired of the game with her
    Would crush her under my finger
    And at midnight
    When sleep would decline to favor me
    This finger would crawl forward
    To a face
    And halt halfway
    And the midnight silence would resonate
    How come an ant
    Appears on the bedspread

    Her Price Was Etched over and over Again

    By Tanveer Anjum, translated from the Urdu by Afzal Ahmed Syed

    Said she in a feeble voice
    Etch my price on my arm
    Or on my back
    Or on my chest
    But they paid no heed to her feeble voice
    And etched her price on her forehead
    And declined to bargain

    They made a mistake
    Apropos her conduct
    Her price was reduced over and over again
    And with no room left on her forehead
    It was etched
    First on her arms
    Then on her back
    Then on her chest

    You Have My Permission

    By Tanveer Anjum, translated from the Urdu by Tanveer Anjum

    Why do you despise so much
    These out-of-fashion
    Artificial flowers
    In our homes
    With no gardens
    And no flowerbeds
    They fill our rooms
    With color

    We share,
    With strangers
    A building
    With more than a hundred dwellings

    The artificial flowers spare us the hardship
    Of maintaining a garden
    Or buying and replacing real ones,
    That will wilt away in less than a day

    You have my permission
    To lay artificial flowers
    On my grave

    Tanveer Anjum holds a masters in English literature and has a doctorate in applied linguistics. She has been writing poetry for several decades. Her collections of poetry are Undekhi Lehren (1982), Safar aur Qaid mein Nazmein (1992), Toofani Barishon mein Raqsaan Sitaare (1997) and Sar-o-Barg-e-Aarzoo (2002). She is a recipient of the Presidential Award, Izaz-i-Fazeelat (2000).

    Afzal Ahmed Syed is a contemporary Urdu poet and translator, known for his mastery of both classical and modern Urdu poetic expression. He is the author of the modern nazm collections (An Arrogated Past, 1984), (Death Sentence in Two Languages, 1990), and (Rococo and Other Worlds, 2000). Another collection of classical ghazals is titled (The Dark Pavilion, 1988). Syed has translated a wide and important body of works by contemporary poets, playwrights and novelists. He was the one of the first Urdu translators of Gabriel García Márquez and Jean Genet. His work has been widely published in leading Urdu literary periodicals such as Shabkhoon, Aaj, and Dunyazad. He currently teaches at Habib University.

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