Afsar Mohammad

Afsar Mohammad: speaking from the street, Pieces of the pieces

speaking from the street

s t r a y
dogs, orphaned cats
and then the people
walking dead
or shrunken on
some corner of the street.

and then wording.


eating, speaking
then jaywalking or
running wildly across
the roads.

These streets—

forever haunted by burning souls
never make a full sentence.

short lines on the
left margins
moving across a page
breaking into something
either to shout or howl
i read the empty spaces
as they keep crying their eyes out.

now imagine
a blood -smeared page

just guess it blends
with a stream of endless sweat
flowing restlessly from somewhere.

then see
a person or his gray trace
wakes up abruptly
to dream another dream
orphaned or abandoned

(for Lawrence Ferlinghetti who opened my eyes to a wave of urban/street idiom)


Pieces of the pieces

between a street and home, I pace through all my doors and windows. I dream about streets when inside, and dream about home in the street. Then I see that I belong to neither home nor street. Like a stray dog or cat, my feet are rhythmically restless. To feel the pain, I burnt them myself. I touch the blue swollen layer just to check if it’s really painful or not. Do I know anything about the color of all that pain?

Afsar Mohammad teaches in the Department of South Asian studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Afsar is an award-winning/ published poet in English and his home language of Telugu—a south Indian language. He has published five volumes of poetry in Telugu and his English poetry will be out soon. He has also published a monograph with the Oxford University Press (USA, 2013) with a title “The Festival of Pirs: Popular Islam and Shared Devotion in South India.” He is currently working on a new book with a focus on the history of Muslims in the city of Hyderabad, India.