Poetry / October 2017 (Issue 37)


Year of the Horse in Five Scenes

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi

HORSE BORN UNDER THE SAME STAR AS THE RED-PLUMED RIDER
 
turns to the sun—his fear of shadows
suddenly lifted by young Alexander's touch.
Bucephalus, horse-soul locked at last
with its human half
First words whispered by the Macedonian wind
will return on the other side of conquest, will
cross the Indus, cross the arrows of an elephant 
cavalry, cross sentience
to a burial place in Punjab 
dug by the beloved's hand
 
 
HORSE WANDERS OUT OF THE BOOK OF KINGS
 
into the bitter bloodstream of regret
You left Raksh grazing, now he is gone,
Rustam, raise your shield
against this meadow turned mirage
shooting shards of a future
so broken no wrestler has the body
to bear it. Turn back while
you can. Crimson saddle cloth,
slate-grey coat, Raksh, galloping,
makes a trail
to the last night of your madness.
 
 
HORSE, TENT PAVILION, NIGHT SKY
 
Khutulun, Mongol princess, tears the jeweled night
into gasps. The tent pavilion is all eyes,
horses tethered to tomorrow's legend
of a woman breaking warrior bones
today, sojourning on a leaf
of history as she makes sport
of male might
to the sound of crickets
and the crescendo 
of fruit seeds hitting the tambourine
 
 
HORSE GALLOPS ACROSS THE LACKLUSTER VERSE
 
of the court poet who praises the Sultan's son
(to earn a mouthful of Ceylon pearls),
gallops, entering the desert with the Sultan's daughter
Razia— the one chosen 
for Dehli's throne—
Swordswoman rising from the desert's refrain
of sons, stateswoman unknotting tongues
Javelin in hand
Jasmine buds around her ankles
 
 
THE HORSE-BRIDE IN THE MYTH OF SILK
 

is a girl stolen
by a stallion, not entirely against her will.
The stallion, white, with indigo eyes,
is of the sphere where empires are dealt,
gives off a faint musk of destiny.
He brings back the master from Shanghai
as his daughter had wished
but is slaughtered by the master
who hangs his hide under the moon and the writ.
The hide will beat back the broken promise,
come as a cyclone,
lift the girl and wrap itself around her
tight like thread on a cocoon
In time she will assume the stallion's face,
text of textile,
reigning between the mulberry groves and the heavens,
goddess of silk 
whose banners will blind the cavalry of Crassus,
write war and commerce in thread.
 
 
Website © Cha: An Asian Literary Journal 2007-2017
ISSN 1999-5032
All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.