Artwork by Hanif Shahzad©
Self Portrait, Undressed
It is frightening
Being a child
In another man’s clothes –
A disguise I wear to forget
Semen stains on my little boy face
That should have been chocolate.
Norwegian forest neck,
Nebula hued shirts,
Straight fit jeans,
An assortment of scarves,
Dark tan jackets,
Hair going crazy in all directions,
Rough bristled cheeks,
A cool mystic’s demeanor,
And running shoes, always.
But I am not the attire of the man I wear
To hide the child I am
Beneath layers of
Naked as trees on a winter morning
You only remember for the cold,
Beneath my skin I am ticking
Nuclear reactor heart
Space telescope eyes
And a quiet smile that asks
Oh, what’s beneath you too?
That three finger roll
You so blandly call a chop
Is still unmistakably you,
Years after I first heard it.
I must have left it playing somewhere.
Perhaps a yellow convertible is still speeding
Across desert landscapes
Where the horizon is dead
And the city lights masquerade
As an imminent star-scape.
Perhaps your voice is still blaring
From that open air stereo,
Because I have heard you again,
Your voice still seeped in whiskey
Rolling in and out between your
Three finger chop,
And it tells me that I’m
Still unmistakably me.
Empty double bed in a burning city
Three thirty three AM,
The street leaks in to my room
A loud quietness, thick as bone
Blaring truck horn, where are you?
A river’s dried up here
And an empty lake glistens under
Flickering tungsten streetlight warmth.
There must be some measure of noise
Beyond the sound of a burning city,
Some dream where home is still intact
And the static recedes into crescendos
Of rickshaws that undo the night.
About the Poet
Arsalan Pirzada likes to write speculative fiction and poetry. His non fiction writing interests include gender issues, sexual violence, urbanism and extreme travel. He has been published in Dawn.