Rizwan Akhtar

 Ghazal:  Fire
                                  but that they keep
the wick of self-respect from dying out

(Seamus Heaney)
Now you cannot sniff me out with both smoke and fire
a heart smolders first, afterwards crackles like a wood on fire
You left me to conceive new ghazals and there came big rains  
I saved couplets from becoming damp; your memory lit the fire.  
Someday we shall roam the same place where you are imprisoned
murmuring verses, holding back tears, the heart free and on fire.
Oh ! Ram could have rescued Sita from the trial of Agnipreksha  
She walked calmly over glowing embers, inside her a greater fire!
Let us wander in the white courtyard of The Royal Mosque again  
The prayer we did conflagrated souls; since long they are on fire.
The muse is not in Lahore, neither in England; where is my pen?
Oh! a continental beauty: “just ordinary for others, my poetry’s fire”
The bombs have wiped the flesh and bones from bodies burning  
a faith which was meant to extinguish pain, now an inferno of fire
Mir asks his beloved from where the smoke emanates enveloping him
Smiling confidently she says: “do not bother about the origin of the fire”
Let bodies sleep for the time being in their cold shells of skins
souls have packet; with time unpeel; at their will revive the old fire.  
Better! do not look at someone else after igniting me on the red rosary  
Others measured love from a Sati ascending the pyre's burning fire
Now ghazals are achieving a new trend which you may not know for long
But your absence will feel that the refrains have ignited a totally new fire
Together on the pulpit we mounted and held Him in the awe of being
then prostrated without the Call for Prayer; He blessed our love’s fire.  
your name means pure woman; who could bar you from the  paradise
mine means custodian of heaven, and heaven is cool, and there is no fire
For how long Tammara you blazed a bonfire in our private home   
Rizwan we will rise from the ashes living with the miracles of fire!
*In 12the couplet there is an allusion to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)


 Rizwan Akhtar’s debut collection of poems Lahore, I Am Coming (2017)is published by Punjab Univeristy Press. He works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan. He completed his PhD in postcolonial literature from the University of Essex, UK in 2013. He has published poems in well-established poetry magazines of the UK, US, India, Canada, and New Zealand. He has also done a workshop on poetry with Derek Walcott at the University of Essex in 2010”.