Sunday poets

December 27, 2019

A few verses from the editors at TNS

— Artwork courtesy of Heartstrings of Heritage, Pakistan National Council of Arts


By Wajiha Hyder

Let me tell you what’s befallen us

How happier days have abandoned us

Not being free

Having a voice and being voiceless

Being dumb, mute, speechless

Looking and turning away

Not saying what needs to be said.

Is perhaps the only way to be


Or was it always like this?

Maybe, it was just not this loud

Maybe, it barely made a sound

All that is left for us

Is to wait and see

All that we are going to be

Or maybe, we will never be

So, just like that

Persistent as a nightmare

The year found its way into

Our heads

The absurdity of our lives

The shallowness of our dreams

The silence of our speech

A silence that grew louder

and became

Loud enough to be a noise

Shunning the wonted truth

Faith, wisdom, belief..

Maybe all that is left for us

Is to wait and see

All that our world can be..

But is it ever going to be?

Aren’t we always waiting

For wars to be fought

Songs of glory to be sung

Accolades to be won


Who will wait for the day

When peace will rule our borders

And tranquility

Will reign supreme

Times will be simpler

Lives will be saner..

Simpler times ahead?

Says who?

Not many-

Those who spoke of it

With any conviction

Vanished long ago

Or maybe

They were just a figment

Of exhausted imaginations

So now…

We’re left without hope

Without dreams

Without peace


We can just wait and see

Whatever it is going to be

But will it ever be?

2019 was delirious

It witnessed some decisions

Like all years do

Some good

Others frightful

Some downright obnoxious

Some tearing the day into shreds

Some, attempting to put it back together again

Some in intricate patterns

Some utterly disastrous

We had our moments of glory

Some real…

Some no more than a facade

But isn’t all glory just a facade?

A touch unreal, a bit warped

We all readily bend the knee

Some do it knowingly

Some unknowingly so


You should just wait and see

All that they will let you be

Or maybe…

It will never be

The year was chaotic

Like all years are bound to be

There were some bad days

Some momentous ones too

We saw some kings fall

and others rise

Like all worldly kings...

Inherently do

There was desperate hope

But concessions as well

A silent resignation to fate

The end was but bittersweet

The year that began

With the absolution of a prisoner of time

Ended with the conviction..

Of another

A decade ends

The days descend into nights

Moments of darkness..

Turn darker

In the gloomy winter nights

The last moments of the year

I think of the decade gone by

Of all the dark hours

That we’ve survived

I think of the struggles ahead

Of the years that are to follow

Of the hours that will remain

And times that might never change


All that is left for us

Is to wait and see

All that is going to be

And all that will never be

2019 the year , that was

Let’s talk

By Syeda Mehr Mustafa


Are ruled

By lynching mobs,

Greedy gropers, lawful looters

Outnumbered only by mindless polluters


The leaders

From my childhood,

Convicted, imprisoned or assassinated

Broken reputations, so well documented

Do carrots bother you, or the cart going nowhere?

Laughter echoes loudest in the depths of despair.


They say

Time is up,

Yet time is callous-

Like the men who touch.


Demands silence

From complicit bystanders,

Hierarchy maintainers, exploitation sustainers

It seems as though, you’ve forgotten the facts?

More feet are bare, than booted in black.


Are born

In the night,

Every great movement requires

Anger with which love conspires


Rises smoke

From joint ventures,

Of hopeless romantics, fighting –

The status quo, barely cracking

What if the last thing you were to see,

Is how flimsy a guise could be?

Fall back

By Ather Naqvi

What will the little boys and girls do

There are so many of them

Going on with their lives

Innocently beaming

Playing now with their big red ball,

The world they have always painted in green and blue

Like lots of flowers…


In black and white

Will there be another world?

Like the spare ball?


By R Umaima Ahmed

Are you there?

Do you know?

Tiny hands

Innocent smiles

Playing about free of care

Gardens of heaven

With fruits of love

Sleep and play was all they did.

Till evil spirits crept in the realm

No more a haven it remained

Turning light to dark

Like nights in hell.

Are you there?

Do you know?

These wicked souls

Preyed on innocence

Hiding behind offers of chocolate

‘No’ was never taught

It had no part in the games played.

Bliss snatched

Tiny hands, clenched in pain

Crying bitterly, trying to breathe

Scared and lost

Calling for help

Till death overcame pain

Thrown upon a heap of garbage

Waiting to be found.

Are you there?

Do you know?

Parents running from pillar to post

Time stands still

Yet runs out

Their calls for help

Heard by none

Till a clamor rings out

“A child’s body has been found”

No hell breaks loose

No authorities are over shaken

Silently picking up their flower

They walk away

The media hosts

Photo-ops, and tall promises

Then back to business

Waiting for the next story.

Are you there?

Do you know?

Zainab’s case was not the last?

The menace did not end

The hanging did not dent

The rampant evil

People one can trust with kids

Are the crying need of the hour

Until then

Only a ‘No’ can save a life.


By Enum Naseer

Home is where

the key turns every time

And the doors, they let you in

Until the day the key stops turning


without warning,

the doors stand guard

Then home is alive and snarling,

teeth filed to a point

only those can enter, who submit

hold their heads down, fold arms in prayer

close their eyes

forget that

the shortest distance between two

points is a child growing up

a child with a perfect question

‘Who do you call when the cops start shooting?’

A sack of potatoes exploding

ripping through a busy market a climbing death toll

The shortest distance between two points is doing your job costing you

your job

A cartoon that scares, an ego

that bruises

a quake that’s a punchline

A shorter distance between two points is a bloody line crossed

a people turned prisoner

two siblings

convinced they

are fighting

over a cashmere sweater

Between these two points

the air is thick

the air kills you someone tells you

that if traffic stopped

moving it’d be better –

if you held still;

held your breath

closed your eyes

had witnesses and names

waited for it to pass

Questions become scalpels

Vultures gather around marchers

A woman’s voice,

louder than everyone else’s,

is hoarse from singing in times like these

A mob rises

rampaging a cardiac hospital

the mob – flesh and sinew

finds no one to tend to its wounds

finds a cardiac hospital empty and

the air thick with teargas

The longest distance between two points

Is a woman’s journey to a foreign land

in the dark of the night

The shorter distance

between you and me

is the straight line

that runs between you and I

Things change in January –

no, February

December is clumsy,

Just like you,

The year has to wrap up too.

This year

I wrote a poem for the first time

journalists aren’t poets

This is not a poem

2019 was coming home,

being told, they changed the locks

only to find out the key was never meant to turn

A home promises protection at a cost,

A home promises protection –

from the snarling houses

of other people

But a dream doesn’t travel clutching

a little green book

nor stands in queue

at border control

A dream is the cypresses   your grandfather planted still standing tall

your grandmother’s laughter filling up a room

You at eight, nine, ten

a child with child’s abandon,

a rainy afternoon,

The synchronised writhing

of earthworms in the courtyard

A dream is you

with a few grey strands

now stealing oranges

from an orchard

where no one knows your name

and your friends waiting in the car

A dream is you realising that

the shortest distance

between two points

is a mouth, curling into a smile

2019 was coming home

finding that they changed the locks

wondering if the door

should have been left ajar

listen, the door isn’t a door

unless it opens

for the many, not the few

Home is where

the key turns every time

and the doors, they let you in

And the people, they come,

weary and spent

to be taken in without

question or comment

after a long wandering,

after a day’s work

even if home grows teeth – bites

2019 was writing a poem

abandoning it,

until joy arrives.

Year in review: Sunday poets summarise 2019