By Omair Bhat
In the streets, filled
with impenetrable smoke,
Kashmir is burning again,
so are tyres, rubber,
and logs. The houses
are burning. Fire
runs in waves. The air,
heavy with soot, murmurs
The lost children of
the sad country sprint
in alleyways with
black balloons. The lost
children of the sad country
on the sun. In the afternoons
they sleep to the
rain’s lullaby. The food is scant.
There is no milk. The
grain of life shapes itself
into a stone we bring home
for a familial ceremony. Each evening
on the dinner tables
we prepare for our little wars
we will fight in the morning.
India, to your every question, every doubt, every slaughter,
we say: Freedom.
To your each attempt of owning Kashmir,
to your narratives, left and right, we say: Freedom.
To your sympathies, celebrations of our plight, we say: Freedom.
To your democracy, your prisons, gallows, news studios, Bollywood,
we say: Freedom
A Letter from a poet to his poem
Linger around, in air, my poem.
Feel no pain of my absence.
Desert neatness of the paper for the undeclared war
that has broken out. Leave sand
of the shore of your rhymes, your eloquence,
for the funeral of children. Abandon scent
of the almonds and roses you are wearing and go
walk through the door and march
towards the graveyard with people or wherever they are headed to today
in procession and roar ‘freedom’ with them, in unison
– become an echo of their slogan, resound and threaten earth to shake,
which it will, anyway.
Break free from the redundancies I have woven
and speak no more of your panache for blossoms. For the country
the blossoms bloom in is now a bloodied shroud draping
the fresh bullet wound of my martyr poet.
Walk through the door and
defy curfew, defy death, and leap over concertina,
leap over checkpoints, spill your anger,
when you do it, say, ‘Live long resistance!’ ,
say, ‘Hum cheen kay lein ge’.
someone from the crowd behind you will reply with ‘Azaddi’ and
a shiver will run through your spine
but feel no fear
if the cops fire a smoke shell,
wait for it to hit ground
and then throw it back at them.
if they train their rifles at you from a distance dare them to shoot you
so, they will think, how will we shoot a poem dead?
so, they will think, if we will shoot one poem, how many more poems will rise against us?
Walk through the door and face death and
return only when the smoke will dissipate in the streets –
when the clouds of defeat will hover over establishment of occupation –
on the day when on Radio Kashmir, at midnight, they will declare our independence,
return home if you survive – and if i am alive by then
i will write you with my blood in my palm
and if i am dead, like all else,
then be memory of my martyrdom
be epithet of my grave forever.
 we will snatch away
Omair Bhat is a poet-writer from Kashmir. He tweets at @OmairBhat.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine on ‘In the Shadow of the Larger Faiths: The Minor Faiths of South Asia’, edited by Prof. Sipra Mukherjee, West Bengal State University, Kolkata, India.