Three Poems by Mubashir Karim

Painting: Olesya Hudyma

By Mubashir Karim

The Unwritten

I like it
When your voice breaks
Over the phone.
In those moments
You could be saying anything.
I can make you say anything.
“I’ve found a God in you”
“Everything, other than love, is wrong in the world”
“No poetry can capture the sanctity of certain relationships”

It is like when one is writing and
The ink dries out.
And the pen mocks writing.
One can scribble anything with it now
Write the unwritten.
Compose personal epics.

I decide to call you again
Bad signal, I say
Only to find out
Your honeyed voice
Back again
Rambling about
The constant barking of dogs.
The insects in the sultry heat.
The colour of the toothbrushes.

Clarity is not what one wishes for –
Voice-breaks are needed to overwrite
The beginnings of love affairs
The-strangers-yet-to-meet kind of narratives
Over the everyday details.

But, somehow
The voice always comes back –
A thud
A resurrection
An awakening
Pointing us to appreciate
The beauty of the mundane –
The tired dogs.
The dead insects.
The sparkling yellow toothbrush.



Like a swarm of insects
We arrived out of nowhere and
Lingered on.
Befouling everything around.
We snatched anything, anywhere.
Looked around.
Gathered information of the unknown.
Maligned the rest
To establish ourselves as superiors.
Bombed places randomly.
Couped lands and bodies.
Built earthquake resistant egos.
Tore humanity like a rag.
Walked on the moon for a mere flag.

Later we contemplated on Aesthetics
Adamantly knowing the answers somehow
Nominated and received awards
As we wrote:

Who sows clouds in the sky?
Is sky earth?
Is God a farmer?



Our pantry guy
talks to himself.
Smiles most of the times.
Makes sounds.
Shares jokes with himself.

Unlike me
He doesn’t need
People, books, television, mobile phones
To fight loneliness.
He is his own company.

When I see him –
Snoring on the sofa,
I wonder how much life he has taken in.
How much is still left.

Just the other day
To top it all
Someone joked:
Let him sleep full time
He’s been working here since 20 years
On a temporary basis and
Lives alone in the suburbs.

How I interpreted that
is still a mystery but
Since that day
I am able to understand all his self-incurred smiles and sounds.
I get all his jokes now on a regular basis.

It seems the poet was right after all –
“The world has failed us both.”

Mubashir Karim is the author of Love in the time of Camera, published in 2018 by Delhi based publishing company Half Baked Beans. He lives in Srinagar, Kashmir. His poems, articles, reviews have been published in various online magazines and newspapers.


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Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Poetics and politics of the ‘everyday’: Engaging with India’s northeast”, edited by Bhumika R, IIT Jammu and Suranjana Choudhury, NEHU, India.

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