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Ghazal for a Tumbleweed

Siddharth Dasgupta

This poem was first published in The Aleph Review, Vol. 5 (2021).

There stands Nargis, her face split in two

By rebel light. In black-and-white, across

The politik of age, tragedy assumes her—

The breeze wearing a leaf—this destiny

Left to dance; oh such fine drama.

Guru Dutt descends, a statue crumbling,

His face equally split by the light. Smoke

Hovers above him like departing belief.

He smokes a cigarette, a cigarette unlit

—bereft, to chance. Oh such fine drama.

In a bookshop, in Paris, leaves frolic

Like a salacious flock. The Beatniks and

The Losts, make no mistake, a contagious

Flock. Amid the unrest of seasons am I,

Humming a song from an album past.

Autumn is here, and leaves plunge

Amok. Trepidation clears his throat.

This is a morning to court life and the

promised kiss. Cupid on a broken roof.

Theft, cue nuance. Oh such fine drama.

Farida Khanum asks me not to leave.

She whispers that today, I shouldn’t

Make a fuss about this inevitable flight.

Even vinyl weeps, the shuffle in its

Voice drenched in notes of departure.

I hope the smell remains—that whiff

Of rain, and the beseeching of earth.

Of youth and young manhood, flung

Out into the wind. I struck a match;

Wept-thru glance. Oh such fine drama.

In a bookshop, in Paris, I lay down

Between rows of shelves. Looking up,

My eyes meet Fitzgerald. They meet Eco.

They meet a cavalcade of hyphenated

Indians, in this here paradisiacal limbo.

Portrait of a Poet by Zaam Arif

Nargis again, and Raj Kapoor. What to

Say of khwaish and age? They twirl among

The shelves—her sari drenched, his hat

Cocked—a mirage of prancing lovers.

Serif, due sans... Oh such fine drama.

I write a poem in the cinema of alit

Promises. A moving mosaic of images

And tête-à-têtes. I assume the film-star

Arrogance of the forties, flitting among

Scenes like a migratory Prospero.

Ghalib, le ja tu. This season is done. I have my books and I possess this heart.

I tumble into dawns that stir from the

Wombs of fabled cities. Drunk, I crept

Through romance. Oh such fine drama.


Siddharth Dasgupta in an Indian writer who crafts poetry and fiction from lost hometowns, cafés dappled in early morning light, and cities inflicted with an existential throb. His books traverse fictional landscapes, unpredictable verse, and that special somewhere in between. Siddharth is the author of four books, including A Moveable Feast and his work has appeared in Epiphany, Lunch Ticket, The Bosphorus Review, The Bombay Literary Magazine, Kyoto Journal, and elsewhere, while he has read in places like Bombay, Istanbul, Isfahan, Lucknow, Mandalay, Galle, and Paris. He lives in the city of Poona, embraced by an always fickle muse and the quiet startle of nostalgia. Follow the author on Instagram @citizen.bliss

Zaam Arif is an American-Pakistani contemporary artist residing and working in Houston, Texas. He is the youngest Pakistani artist to be published in The New Yorker. In 2021, his work was selected to be exhibited in the Malamegi Lab Award and was awarded the Malamegi Lab Research Grant in Italy.

Zaam explores existentialist experiences of the layman, the experiences that we tend to hide. He confronts it with a penetrating interpretation of human nature, transformingit into a visceral reality. His work is a manifestation of his understanding of the contemporary human condition along with insights garnered from his study of classical literature and psychology. He is adamant in exploring the harsher truths and inner conflicts that plague us all in this day and age, using visual contrast in all his pieces, whether through colour, lack thereof, or the medium itself, to express it.

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