Three Poems by C L Khatri

C L Khatri


What’s wrong?
For three generations
they have been pleading
with timid tongue
of tears, sweats and shiver
swallowing the bile
licking the lacerating wound
you left on their flesh.
The white man with a brown aid
listened to jazz of the black breasts.
A child’s face like a squeezed mango
thrown on the roadside
flies humming over it.

They didn’t know
power disables both ears and eyes.

What’s wrong?
A slave learns the art of the master.
A black barrel bangs.
You turn to them
unplugging your headphone.
Tit for tat
old barbaric brat.

What’s wrong?
You harvest the crop of corpse.
Book a graveyard or carry
sandalwood on your back.
When word fails barrel speaks.
Can’t you listen?


The peeling of the plaster
colony of cobwebs in the corner
wild creepers on the window
stars peeping through corrugated roofs
insidious traps of nostalgia.
Native home has a compelling seduction.

In a cold winter evening
a man with a kangari inside his overcoat
sits at the door of his abandoned house
still holding on to the warmth
of morning kahwa with wife and kids.

He rakes up the frozen fire
collects their bones from white ashes.
Perhaps he will carry the urn to the Jhelum
and pray for resurrection of his home.

Turban Man

In the season it’s tough time
for the turban man
holding on his hopes in coils of turban
rolling down along the highway
providential potatoes from saggy sacks.
The two swollen eyes keep staring till
they slither into abstraction.
His neighbour’s son returns gleefully
with potato chips crunchy, crispy in his hands.
Truly he lives in hope and dies without hope.
But hope doesn’t die; it transmigrates like soul.