Standing at Fallujah’s Door by Kishwar Naheed translated from Urdu


What should I do with those poems
I had written against
running blood and tyranny
for blood is constantly running
and tyranny, it keeps increasing


What should I do with those poems
in which the sounds of the crying of
scared, wounded children echoed
for now everywhere groans and sighs
lacerate my ears


What should I do with those poems
I had written on
flying birds and laughing girls
for now girls even cheaper than plunder
are bought and sold


What should I do of those poems
that my ancestors wrote
they challenged god and were called genius
but if alive today, would be flayed as heretics


Tell me, what should I do of that truth
that cannot be told on earth
that cannot be read in the heavens
that cannot be printed in newspapers
and if said in front of people
they call you
uneducated and tactless


Tell me
what should I do of this heritage
wrapped in the corner of my dupatta
that is like an empty candle in my hands
for the blazing flame in it
followed those people
who were canny and sycophant
I see severed heads even in my dreams
Maybe it is time for my poems to desert

Mahwash Shoaib’s translation of Kishwar Naheed’s “Poem Standing at Fallujah’s Door” is from Wehshat aur Barood mei Lipti hui Shairi / Wrapped in Dread and Dynamite (Lahore: Sang-e-Meel, 2009).

Image Credits: Ian Ransley