Saima Afreen





Squeezed sunset

adds its fire to blood;

the skin holds kilns

of centuries, flickering, melting

lifting rusted letter-boxes

by their roots, the frost within

the struggle of light.


The wooden houses drink       the sky

above. The stars have always outnumbered the dead.

They grow large button-like,

stitching poems, prophets once discarded.


Below Scandinavia glitters

I dip my hand, shake the Baltic Sea, pluck a few conifers

and let them marry jasmines

growing around Saima Harmaja’s navel

which is still the point other constellations drifted

from us

the spot Silk Route tried to hold

the tale locked in Kufic letters,

the smile of a dead woman in the water grave,

the silk unwrapping Kalevala,

the silence of Karbala.


Thousands of angels tap

on my flight window.

The next morning they said it snowed feathers

in Helsinki

And each red mushroom lent its fire

to tiny poems opening their eyes with the grass.

Helsinki flickered

in a marriage of glass and fire.


Saima Harmaja – A brilliant Finnish poet who died very young

Kufic – Oldest Arab calligraphic form

Kalevala – Finnish national epic

Karbala – A city in Central Iraq known for the famous battle of Karbala



There’s No Lamp in the World Tonight


Darkness is a refugee

in our shadows

it’s a little child that wakes up

in the middle of the night –


remembering the rose chintz of my lamp

and a milk jug my grandfather brought home

from Germany during the World War

underneath the rose-gold hue was written Rosenthal

which I till now wrongly read as Rosencrantz

a name for treachery planted inside us

when the cities would be lumps of coal

under silent sirens

women noiseless like leaves

their sewing a story folded for tomorrow.


My article bled today

with a bloodshot eye

holding a pellet-stricken map

in its iris.


There’s power-cut in my body

my poet-skin refuses to see the calligraphy

that soft shadows of net curtains offer

or how the teak cupboard bends into a smooth curve.


Outside            the red moon

is broken into shards

a sliver of its hot glass falls

inside my inkpot.


Everything turns into vapour

this country, he, me, you

and darkness, too

crying in its chains

forever blamed

for the heads of dead soldiers

murdered babies or mutilated women

now all disappeared in a blind universe

where stars are torch lights

blown out on broken cheeks.


The darkness is ink inside a jug of milk

darkness is the well today

everybody is drowned in

and then silence,

stone    black

the buds forget to bloom

your breath once fire is cold

the wicks your eyes planted in the sky

are drowned

etherized their lights blink

their tips lit up with blood;


I pluck one wick

and set the carcass

of the moon

on fire.

Let there be light!



Saima Afreen is an award winning poet, who also moonlights as a journalist with The New Indian Express. She has been part of different literary festivals and platforms such as GALF, TEDx VNR-VJIET, Prakriti Poetry Festival, Sahitya Akademi Poets’ Meet, Helsinki Poetry Jam among others. She was awarded Villa Sarkia Writers Residency, for autumn 2017 in Finland, where she finished working on the manuscript of her first poetry book titled ‘Sin of Semantics and Other Poems’.


Featured photo: ‘sunrise on baltic sea‘, © Elbfoto (Bunter Morgen)

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