Rizwan Akhtar – ‘Departure’, ‘L’appel du vide’


–for Tammara Claire


a shadow feigned by a cat sat on the chair

wind blabbered through empty cupboards

the couch with a pit sagged like a ghost

therefore I came out to see the aftermaths

of your departure though not exactly a history

a dripping creeper reminded the sounds you

stored in rooms, but a rusty wire slogged

unpegged hangings scattered on ground

I soiled my hands retrieving a soggy towel

a shirt insanely clasping a wet fern

slippers squelched while I assembled the

furniture of love renting another place.




L’appel du vide


‘It was a strange winter’–

three trees spooked simultaneously

six leaves hanged like portraits

posed for gallows revealed a skeleton

which was obviously nude, and down

on the soggy turf rabbits skinned

over lumps of soil not far-off

from this landscape of beings


an old woman rummaged the litter

selecting a cardboard with big words

now sputtered just when a car passed

ghostly black blinds down the faces

pretended to find an address:

(a snow-white man on a bench)


his letter crept over the page’s edge

for a beloved behind the fence

of a factory where evening laid

its contents on long roads.


Rizwan Akhtar’s debut collection of Poems Lahore, I Am Coming (2017) is published by Punjab University Press. He has published poems in well-established poetry magazines of the UK, US, India, Canada, and New Zealand. He was a part of the workshop on poetry with Derek Walcott at the University of Essex in 2010.