the dialectics of poetic confusion

The great unwashed in the park – what is it that makes it so easy to classify the classes? women, children, some veiled, some garish, a festive group visiting this tiny walkpark of mine in this far off city nook     love imagines lives a little different from what privilege has taught from the pulpit     imagines lives of care, of concern for their sisters, brothers, younguns     yuN na tha maiN ne faqat chaaha tha yuN hojaae? 1     no stretch of imagination to immortalize the beaming smiles – under duress too – of my park lot

meanwhile my lot festers unabashed in connivances of convenience, contempt for the sake of bile     the unparked ones are the ones that worry me, the platitudes of concern, the beatific biles

the driver happily blocking the road with his car while talking to a friend     entitled shout: baap ka road hai? 2     I see joyful camaraderie that cares not a whit for a car or two stacked up behind     the pulpit snivels civility     love shakes her head     tao is good to the good as well as bad, lao tzu sages, so shall I accommodate the pulpit, the snivel?

or shall I retreat to my khanqah while the mongols of the day bludgeon away?     our great master prescribed nothing but – this much history teaches about rumi3, trying to spirit away solidarity by trivializing the mundane, the unwashed     easier perhaps to be a holy ostrich than to imagine lives of care, concern, sister, brother

yuN na tha maiN ne faqat chaaha tha yuN hojaae


1. “Wasn’t thus, I merely wished it so” – a line from Faiz, iconic Pakistani revolutionary poet who made no secret of his admiration for another “great poet of the east”, Iqbal, who in turn made no secret of his admiration for Nietzche’s superman: the dialectics of poetic confusion.

2. “Is this your father’s road?” A common phrase that like so many others can never be adequately translated.

3. Point raised by the Iranian revolutionary, Ali Shariati. A valid point echoed so many times in history when the gatekeepers of culture/morality/civility/whatnot have been hands-in-glove with despots.

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