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Saturday, April 09, 2005

For a little boy (new sawaal)

Little boy, don't fall out of love
with me.
That I am growing old is no fault of mine.
I want this face to stay smooth as
could be
I didn't want it disappearing - line swallowing up line.

Little boy, don't fall out of love
with me.
I cannot help it if they will not stand -
your card-houses, your sand-castles
by the sea…
Wind and water do not long stay loyal to land.

Little boy, don't fall out of love
with me.
It is not my doing - this hardness of eye.
The hard clay, the rock walls of this world
I see
are sinking into my vision, by and by.

Little boy, don't fall out of love
with me
Though I am neither witch, nor fairy of your tale
Nor the wind that howls, nor the breeze
blowing free.
At best, I'm a book - for now, beyond your pale.

But little boy, don't fall out of love
with me.
In ten years, in twenty, you will begin to understand.
Though it will be forty years before, finally,
you see
such driftwood as my silence, such longings of quicksand.

Little boy, don't fall out of love
with me.
But love many others… many, many more.
For love, in a man, will branch and flower
as a tree,
only when rooted in the first love of yore.

(c) Annie Zaidi, April 2005

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The truth about poetry

I have no poetry
in me;
What you see is vented steam.
It tells you nothing
about me;
I try and keep it clean
(No one ought to see
the muck leading to creation).

I have no poetry:
I simply honour the tradition
of lying in blank verse.

I try and keep it terse
as I betray sentiment, through syllable
schemes of a workable rhythm.

Poetry is but the terrible
silence after a scream.

Poetry is but let-off steam;

Read nothing into it;
Seek nothing in it.

[Another attempted jawaab. This one is better... yes?]

(C) Annie Zaidi, Jan 2005

Monday, January 31, 2005


Poetry reveals, you say,
And i raise an eyebrow
(Trying very hard, you see,
To look wise and highbrow).

For your poetry is your cape
My matador fair,
Your verse read, i charge, aflame,
But you're no longer there.

Poetry reveals, you say,
Yes, i know that's true.
It tells me lots about me,
And nothing about you.

© Peter Griffin January 2005

A new sawaal, while i play with an overdue jawaab.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


I thought, I could, at least, amuse you.
Yes, I took your name, once,
on which to suckle my infant verse.
Yes, I crushed a paragraph, as fodder,
for hungering sentences of lust and love.
But I did not mean to use you.
I was trying to amuse you.

True, I might have stolen the gist
of a spontaneous outburst, or two.
True, I might have borrowed your vices
to hurl back, bundled in my own.
For, all your sins, I did excuse you.
My sins, I knew, would amuse you.

It was a habit to be on your side,
in every war, of word and faith.
It was a habit to let you rave, and rant,
and, with a shrug, to make you ache.
To hurt you, lest your mind abuse you.
To suffer, for it did amuse you.

Sometimes, I played the game with you
of yes and no and yes and no.
Sometimes, I played at wrong-and-right,
waiting for you to guess, and win.
I lost, I lose, I could not lose you.
Victory, I guessed, would amuse you.
I thought, I could, at least, amuse you.

(C) Annie Zaidi, Jan 2005

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

With or without your words

Your words?
They made me look.
i'll admit that, no pretenses.

But no,
They're not the hook.
i'll take - happily - your silences.

You see,
It's not the words so warm
That you so deftly spin

It's where they come from
That wonderful heart within.

When they won't play,
When tears, not words, glisten,

When you have nothing to say,
i'll be here, to listen.

© Peter Griffin - January 2005

jawaab to this

Monday, December 20, 2004


I have nothing to say.

The words have all melted
with the dew on the clothesline.
When I brought the washing in,
the syllables, consipiring, had all consented,
to mutiny - their sullen nudity, a sign
that my robe of verbiage was slipping.

Modesty, ever-dictating, ever-there,
I knew not how to out-sulk, out-stare
those naked syllables, stripped bare
of meaning, reason, promise of glory.
I prod, I plead; I abuse, I swear -
but today, they won't move, they tell no story.

And so, today,
I have nothing to say.

(C) Annie Zaidi, December 2004.

[New sawaal; jawaab awaited... Over to you.]

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Rendezvous [at the twenty-fifth milestone]

He did not keep the rendezvous;
I must have waited an age.
He did not come, or did not wait
for dawn to turn the page.

An age of dark grey overcoats
An age of shell-white walls
An age or more of coverless pillows
Ages of pigeon-crest calls.

I waited, waited, waited by the highway,
at the twenty-fifth milestone.
He did not keep the rendezvous;
So I had to go on alone.

For turning back was not for me;
they turn back who belong
to a home, a heart, a religion -
those who drag their souls along.

I couldn't go back; where would I go?
I know not whence I came.
But I wait at every twenty-fifth milestone,
alight with pride and shame.

He did not keep the rendezvous;
a century must have passed.
His promise is old; I am worn;
the miles catch up at last.

He did not keep the rendezvous;
he must have found a muse.
He never comes; I walk and walk
to a destiny I did not choose.

He did not keep the rendezvous;
what can I do but wait
with a cursed hope, he lies ahead;
perhaps, I am a little late?

(c) Annie Zaidi, December 2004
Jawaab to 'You, who are restless tonight'.

Monday, December 06, 2004

You, who are restless tonight

Your heart beats to marching rhythms,
your breath is a travelling song.
Tamed and maimed are synonyms
to you. I knew this all along.

I’ve travelled far myself, you know,
And I know you must wander too.
So I’ll offer you this as you pack and go:
A future rendezvous.

When you’ve done what you must do alone,
And you’re ready for company,
Perhaps we’ll meet at a lone milestone,
And you’ll travel a while with me?

We can walk some roads together,
Perhaps share a meal, or two,
Shelter each other from bad weather,
Or, just for fun, walk through.

And as the miles and the sights go by,
Maybe, then, you’ll see
Not the jailor from whom you fly,
But the fellow traveller in me.

© Peter Griffin December 2004


An Attempted Sonnet for A

Did I say I seek to own you?
That I do not know that chains would be hell?
Did I say I want to tame you?
My nomad soul knows wanderlust too well.
I was set free by your wild heart;
Would I wish you predictability?
I would not love you with wings cut,
So go, if you must. You were always free.

What I would give you is sanctuary,
A safe haven, when you tire.
A place to recoup, when you are weary
So that you can fly higher.
Yes, the door’s shut against the wind’s roar
But the lock, dear heart, is this side of the door.

© Peter Griffin December 2004

Sawaal (The Question)

Did I not say
I cannot stay?

I told you, didn't I,
I have forgotten how to belong?

Did I not say
I come from lands of nowhere
and move on,
without warning?

Did I not say
I am sold to wicked spirits
who whisk me away
to hiding-places, wet and warm?

I told you, didn't I
that I must lust,
for the foreign eye,
though clinging, even, to your predictability?

I warned you, didn't I,
of the times when I rebel
and escape to my secrets?

Did I not say
I cannot stay?

This is the second round of sawaal-jawaab, taking off from where Peter left off.
(c) Annie Zaidi, Dec 2004

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


This side of the wall.
It's safe, and it's warm in here.

Though your sirens call
In voices only you hear.

The night is long,
Dark shadows loom.

The fire's song
Dances in this room.

The night is lonely
Full of hurt and ache.

Even if only
Till the morning breaks.

Night - 4

Good Night, love.
I am still here;
sleep well.

Good night, love.
Sleep, though there is
that corner of curtain curling up,
as warm death peeps into our darkness.

Good night, love.
I am still here, but there she is - warm death,
her rosy fingers lifting that corner of curtain -
and she holds her fire, waiting
as she's waited this quarter-century.

Good night, love.
Don't fret, I am here.
But warm death is waiting at the window,
tugging at that corner of curtain, signalling.

Good night, love.
do shut your eyes.
I am not going anywhere.
Only to the window, just
there and back.
She waits outside, warm death.
And she's been so patient; it doesn't seem fair.

Sleep well, love.