The Weakling’s Register – Canto 1

image credit: pedro valdeolmillos

Order in dressing is needed, coherence in deceit. He repeated this
smoothing with his hands the edge of his jacket, the lapels,
the shirt untouched around the collar

too tight and yet just right for the image in the mirror.
A sweeping gesture, a touch to his hair perfectly groomed
and all the rest: perfection, he repeated

posing confidentially with the face learnt from the man on TV.
I am better if you look closely, more true too:
he looked at the reflection of his eyes, the agreement

of the image with the side he wanted.
His skin too, the right colour, the tone acquired in time
in the solarium a step away from home. Perfection, he repeated

presenting himself in the doorway to his wife already dressed.
Hand in hand without speaking. They never said anything any more. Too often
they couldn’t think of what to say. Looking closely he couldn’t find other things actually

most of all a reason to stay.


Registro dei Fragili
translated from the Italian by Anthony Robbins

Sun-dried Cherry

Sun-dried cherry moist
deaths in gold sun-lit day
dancing warm shadows
baked in your wet clay

Before you, then I writhe
in cherry-coloured taste
paint me you in red ink
drawn blood in haste

my own, then you
sift through me like sand
twirl me, circle me, you
in the soul of your hand

Taste me, come now
lick salt-flavoured lies
sketch you then shadows
between your charred sighs

Knead me, seek me
you come in the dark
leave me, then you
your own pained mark

Breathe me my moans
you, sang on your tongue
give me little deaths
in cherry-flavoured tones


Have you ever felt the ecstasy on achieving something that fell completely outside your personality? Has your fantasy ever taken you to a place from where there seems to be no return? Has your imagination become so vivid that you have failed to distinguish the thing imagined from reality?

I imagined a life, filled with love and hope and ideals. In my fantasy I gave up all that I was, so as to absorb the other. The fuzzy other became so real that to think now of a life without him seems scary. I thought that I had finally discovered, what I believed to be love, I believed that I had finally found the source of my happiness.

Every night I spent hours creating and recreating my fantasy, living through every moment as if it was the beginning of the journey that would lead to my happiness. I not only imagined my own happiness, but forgot the anguish of others as I felt that love could ease all pain.

I spent hours begging my Lord to make this dream turn into a reality. In my head I found a place for him in my family, I envisioned the arguments for and against the relationship and pondered deeply into the answers. I looked at my source of power and included her in my vision as somebody who would help me achieve this ideal.

But then Danish walked in. Unprepared, I faltered. I felt a pain I had never felt before. My head swirled. I wanted to quit, but I couldn’t loose – that would be an insult. I searched his eyes, as I always did, for answers, but as usual I was left confused. My confusion made me lose my confidence, but again I tried to pacify my soul, I told myself that this insecurity was endearing. But fear gripped me, so strongly that I couldn’t see; everything seemed foggy.

It was too hazy, I was terrified, I felt I was jinxing my own fate, but at the same time I felt that if I didn’t dream I would lose out completely.

I can’t stop imagining it. But the desire for its fulfillment seems to have fazed, not because I don’t want it anymore, but because I am overcome by the fear. I fear that I will be compared and I will never measure up to his yard stick.

I know my rejection is near, and therefore the defense mechanism kicks in, I want to be the one to let go, but still the questioning and doubt don’t seem to cease, I can’t make him think he won.

But why am I doing this? Why at the cost of my own suffering?

I am not good enough; I don’t know enough and never will.

Anxiety – please God just let me succeed; just take away this confusion, this pain, and this overwhelming misery. If my fate holds tears, then let it be carved in stone, and let them flow, my Lord, let me feel the hurt. But if there is the slightest chance that you will listen, please show me the way.

I can’t keep feeling like this my Lord, I need to recognize the love and if it exists not, then I need to understand the lack of it. If the lacking comes from the fact that I lack, then guide me in filling this hollowness.

You swore my Lord that I will suffer as much as I can take, I don’t think I can take this my Lord, my heart has opened after a long time, and if this time it shuts, defeated, then I don’t see a future. I can’t do it my Lord, I can’t try any more, I can’t hold back the tears my Lord, I can no longer suppress my fears. It has to be easy my lord, this time it needs to come on a plate, I cant make an effort again my Lord, I am completely burnt out. I don’t know how to act my Lord, I can’t seem to understand the feeling, I don’t have time my Lord I feel it all closing.

When I close my eyes, I only see the face, of the one I can’t have, my Lord, the one I have repelled. I dream about it when asleep and awake; I feel I am losing my Lord, please help me keep my faith! Please don’t hold back, my Lord, I can’t do this on my own, I fear my own sanity, I fear I am nearing the end. I don’t know how to react, please put the words in my mouth, tell me what to do, my Lord, please don’t leave me now.

I can no longer breathe, my Lord, my sensitivities are aroused, I want to do it, my Lord, I no longer want to lose out.


One year later…

…and I still haven’t found what I am looking for…

So drive me far away. To a destination unknown. Where no one knows me, and I know no on, where time ceases, where pigs fly, where fantasy prevails, and reality is your own creation. Where I can see no more, the truth that I deny; where I no longer live in anguish and where my despair triumphs. I can’t ask for anything more, I cannot give up, so if I lose, I want this to be the end – of life, if that’s what it entails.


I imagine  my life without hope, but it doesn’t end my, the instinct still persists. I feel, my Lord, that this is all a lie; I try to end this loneliness inside. But it doesn’t cease, I always find myself at the beginning, of the same road, my Lord, why is this not ending> I don’t want it to, my Lord; I don’t want this to be my trial, I want a saviour, my Lord, I don’t want to die.


Dear editor,

It is not easy being human. We are casts that came from moulds that are so perfectly set, that the cracks rarely emerge.

We are fired and tempered under conditions that are so quintessential that we automatically, eventually, resign to the informality of unerring raunchiness. It happens inevitably, for the wet clay when it is incarcerated, is constantly compelled to stir.

My story begins on a train bounding endlessly across the plains of Lahore to Karachi. I could have flown there in an hour and forty-five minutes, instead I chose the twenty-two hour travel time by train to dilute my thoughts. Since I was returning from college, after an event full year of feuding, longing, recrimination, repose, exhilaration, emotions that are evoked when one is young and fluid.It was late at night so after a while,  I fell into a tempestuous slumber. When I awoke I was sweating.

The first thing that dawned on me was that I was not alone. On the berth across from me lay a young woman assembled in red threads. Could be she was a bride, but where was the wedding party? Why was she stretched out in such unquenchable relinquish? – her red dupatta partly covering her face, her hair a loose sea of serpents hanging from one side, her slim waist arched in peaceful agony.

I carefully removed the thin covering from her face only to be astounded by what I saw. It was dark in the cabin, so what was revealed to me was nothing like I had seen before. She seemed unconscious; or was I unconscious; I cannot remember. I swallowed in earnest to cease my thirst, but all seemed still. The rhythm of the moving train erased in the soft moonlight, making shapes which kept changing, like ripples spreading over a calm surface, of a lake full of blood. I ran my fingers over that face, over that lucid  body. Was she alive? When my hand cupped her breast I was certain she was, as I felt her heart beat and the rouse of a woman who is swinging between being awake or in a deep state of latency.

And then I undressed her, in that very state.  The body that lay before me was nothing like I had held before. This flesh had been through many changes to be reborn with such utter perfection beneath the light of the moon. So perfect was her physical beauty, it aroused nothing sexual in me. I could only stare, astounded, at the lovely curve from waist to hips, the rounded richness of the breasts, the gentle movement with each breath of the slim belly, and the soft pubic shadow beneath.

A terrifying intensity arose within me as I stayed fixed for a very long time, until it occurred to me that I had to walk away and break the spell.

I left the cabin, and gasped for air in recognition of where I was, in time, space, association, only to find myself walking from one car to another, only to realise too late what I had left behind, when all of a sudden I heard a scream.

I rushed back to discover in sheer horror that my lack of foresight had led to a situation that was as absurd as what I had managed to create in that delirium. She was surrounded by people who were sounding completely inane as they jumped from one conclusion to another, shouting profanities at the girl who was still obviously drugged. After a while I figured out through the commotion that they were her family taking her to her future husband’s home near Hyderabad, to be wed.

A few days later I read an obituary:

Unidentified girl, medium height, age approximate 18, raped and shot on the Shalimar Express. No family present when body was found. Case being reviewed by Pol Road District Thana. No evidence found.

That night, I picked up my knapsack and forced myself to walk away from that tableau, enveloped in a haze of emotions that still jolt me out of my sleep with a ferocious brutality. It never leaves, the intensity of that moment. It always leaves me with such a great feeling of impotency. I am fascinated by my own paralysis. Fascinated by the fact that any human is capable of such dishonorable malignancy, and yet continues on the journey of life.


‘Because I am Not Catholic’ and Other Paragraphs

The sun, I saw, setting  with its orange haze – it was past. I watched, collecting in my mind the colours that the night was to throw at me – blues, indigo tinted with orange, all kinds of blues, layered with black now – a Van Gogh night.

With these colors in the periphery but nonetheless active I sit, waiting at Café Prague.   Waiting?  For whom?  I guess I am waiting for an enigma, an imaginative sapping who I or destiny has called Sophia.

And it is my relation to this Sophia that bothers me – I wear a blue coat and yellow vest coat and on the brink of expectance I am to consider in words with ink (red) on paper, and through paper, my relation – in language – to Sophia.

Café chatter rings past my ears, and I tell them – my ears – ‘don’t pay attention, don’t pay attention’…obediently they arrive to affirm my cry and only a murmur is accepted.

That too occasionally, and with great hesitance.

Sophia’s neck remains invincible, it does not exist and I have never seen it, her eyes confess in their brown ways to have seen utopia – in her step she relates to air as a bonsai plant relates to stillness.

My nose and my hands are tortured for the calmness of her sight. They are especially frightened by her voice, which terrorizes them into pockets and sweat. In her presence all speak with a rhythm associated with wayfarism.

Because I am not Catholic I do not confess and instead have to carry pens, and paper, and engage in conversations with strangers on buses, with cats and newspaper sellers, and bottles of wine – not scared but damn fun.

Back to Sophia and the problem of her being – that she exists and has hands is true, but that she is in my dreams, and in my fragrant fantasies, in a web of my mind, and that she somehow pours through my figure nails –

This is also true – and the problem.  For whatever she is she is nonetheless to me part of my creation, and as my creation she cannot have a substantive presence in my being – I will gaze at her internally.

A painting, I alter it, and add dabs here and the problem is common and we know it well, let me turn to Cristina – who on a cold night over the phone told me to ‘see her’ (Sophia) –

I did not understand this cryptic advise, but now as I await Sophia, as I avoid the indiscretions  of smoke, and chatter, I would like her to come with her stillness and terrorizing voice, so that I may ‘see her’.