December 5th, 2011

The Wolf’s Postcript to ‘Little Red Riding Hood’

First, grant me my sense of history:
I did it for posterity,
for kindergarten teachers
and a clear moral:
Little girls shouldn't wander off
in search of strange flowers,
and they mustn't speak to strangers.

And then grant me my generous sense of plot:
Couldn't I have gobbled her up
right there in the jungle?
Why did I ask her where her grandma lived?
As if I, a forest-dweller,
didn't know of the cottage
under the three oak trees
and the old woman lived there
all alone?
As if I couldn't have swallowed her years before?

And you may call me the Big Bad Wolf,
now my only reputation.
But I was no child-molester
though you'll agree she was pretty.

And the huntsman:
Was I sleeping while he snipped
my thick black fur
and filled me with garbage and stones?
I ran with that weight and fell down,
simply so children could laugh
at the noise of the stones
cutting through my belly,
at the garbage spilling out
with a perfect sense of timing,
just when the tale
should have come to an end.

Written by Agha Shahid Ali

(Sourced from

November 14th, 2011

Light Blue Memories

O exiles of the mountain of oblivion!
O the jewels of your names, slumbering in the mire of silence
O your obliterated memories, your light blue memories
In the silty mind of a wave in the sea of forgetting
Where is the clear, flowing stream of your thoughts?
Which thieving hand plundered the pure golden statue of your dreams? 
In this storm which gives birth to oppression
Where has your ship, your serene silver mooncraft gone?
After this bitter cold which gives birth to death –
If the sea should fall calm
If the cloud should release the heart’s knotted sorrows
If the maiden of moonlight should bring love, offer a smile
If the mountain should soften its heart, adorn itself with green,
become fruitful –
Will one of your names, above the peaks,
become bright as the sun?
Will the rise of your memories
Your light blue memories
In the eyes of fishes weary of floodwaters and
fearful of the rain of oppression
become a reflection of hope?
O, exiles of the mountain of oblivion!

Written by Afghan poet Nadia Anjuman in November/December 2001.

Translated by Zuzanna Olszewska and Belgheis Alavi

(Sourced from UniVerse of Poetry)