October 23, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

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Ayesha Fatima Barque




My City



The greed worms are teaming

Between tyres and hot tar in June

Proliferating at every orgasmic skid

Conveyor-belt smooth. Rolling:

A public act for all to see

Guilt, shame and censure-free.


A simple heart with half a head can tell

The cankered produce

Speeding through my home.


Lahore is no more

But what you see.






Lahore – Lines Disjointed



Roads like tanks on hunkers hump my city

Bridges separate each from each

Products larger than life loom upon my vision


Ideas is a shopping mall

Emporium is where Lahore comes to shop

Our proverbial hospitality is an Inn tucked in a corner

Sitting in ambush for Aiwan e Iqbal innocent of learning

New trees are crowded saplings to be tamed into hedges

Stubbed, topiaried, or huddled by the million under bridges.

They will never find their final form mocked by

Middle Eastern palms their tap roots transplanted

To our shade-craving-summers


Homegrown foliage, the ancestral

dharaik neem keekar pipal taali

the stuff that dreams are made on


The golden calves of Aaron rise:


Axes, chainsaws, bulldozers at their best


Production, expansion, construction


My Old Lahore of narrow-street and neighborhood

The lost pavements line the pan of the mind.

Above, youthful pedestrians walk the bridges

The infirm vacantly stare at

The grey leviathan tapeworms

Span the sky crossing Lahore out


nehro nehr” straight you went from one end to the other

Before it got endless, divided, augmented, unencompassable.

Fields built over, the white birds of the paddies gone

Land, bird, tree, bush, cricket, worm, tilling tractors

Fed to giant transformers looming hungry upon the soil.


Will our long necked canal become a spine

Shelved, archived in Lawrence Garden Library

Bagh e Jinnah Library, Shahra e quaid e azam library

Off Davis road, Durand Road my Shao ki garri?


Who am I to talk of navigating, naming, thinking?

A small time teacher ruled by the sound and fury

Of those that we’ve taught nothing.









Shadows greater than my straw-hat’s

Cross the veranda

Choreographing strophes to my terror.

I duck as in a 3D theatre

Glad to be assured of a neighbourhood

That has no taste for the winter sun

Save one who has taken the charge

Of scattering meat on his roof

To ward off the evil that brings the kites

In hundreds to feed on and relay

The offering to the skies

Well lettered in the script of the exchange.


Could he do this, I wonder, in a land

Whose sands are not a coarse grey

Whose skies know its colour yet

Beyond the miasma that sits

On my city sick with dust, dirt,

Vapour of the uncountable many


Who’s to say how it would be in another place.

It is so here.






Ayesha Fatima Barque

Ms. Ayesha Fatima Barque is Assistant Professor at the Department of English Language and Literature, University of the Punjab, Lahore. She has been engaged in postgraduate teaching for over fifteen years. She believes in the power of language to shape both individual and social consciousness and sees poetry as an instrument of change. She has published research articles on poetry and drama.

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