Lost In An Anxiety Dream

The dream, an early morning awakening.


Past and present merge.


I’m in an unfamiliar place,


Staring at a concrete intersection,


Searching for known landmarks,


Trying to establish which way to go.


Each road leads to confusion.




Echoes of childhood have vanished for ever,


The familiar buildings replaced by office blocks,


And I stand alone by the crossroads, lost and without purpose.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

I have always had a keen interest in dreams and what they tell us. 

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Alligator Snapper

My father brought a giant snapping turtle home

and plopped it on the driveway

big as a garbage can lid

and pissed as hell

reeking of years of pond muck

Don't get too close to it

he warned my little sister and me

It'll take your toes off, maybe your whole foot


We poked at it with very long sticks

as it moved in slow, defensive circles

puffed up to twice its size

hissing in a continuous, menacing monotone

sounding for all the world like a punctured tire

or a gas station air hose


Fascinating and horrifying

this stinking, loud, unseemly monster

Long tail just like an alligator, tucked tightly around itself

three-inch claws scritching across the concrete

Impossibly long neck, spring-loaded

shooting out with deadly precision

great beak snapping with murderous intent

at the sticks we thrust toward it with borrowed bravado


Dad said we were going to have turtle soup that night.

Sticks clattered to the driveway

as we gaped at him in horrified comprehension

Choking up on his axe handle

He assured us turtle soup was considered a delicacy

Then grabbed the tail of that



clawing beast 

and dragged it around to the 7-foot tall woodpile

under the back deck

We clasped hands and followed, wide-eyed


Girls, he said, go inside; you shouldn't watch this

We skittered away without protest

My sister ran to her room to cry

But I

I went upstairs and crept quietly out onto the deck

I lay down, peering between the slats

and watched


I saw the axe fly, just once

felt it connect


heard the head land out of view


Dad nailed the headless turtle by its shell

to a log in the pile

Its limbs still churned slowly, devoid of intent

clawing at nothing

I watched as viscous crimson rivulets

ran down the woodpile into the sparse grass


I had never seen so much blood.


The wicked blade of the fillet knife moved with precision

glinting through broken beams of sunlight

Turtle chunks plunked wetly into a big yellow bowl

the same one we always used for popcorn


That night 

as I pushed my "delicacy" around my bowl with a spoon

My father declared that turtle meat keeps moving

long after it's butchered

He said it sometimes keeps swimming around in your stomach, 

even after you've swallowed it


I announced loudly

that I hadn'f felt anything moving in my belly

my sister said she hadn't either 

and besides

we knew it wasn't true

Dad just smiled mischeviously

And ladled himself another bowl

For the rest of the evening we were hyper-attuned

to the slightest intestinal slither

and the next day too

probably even the day after


It rained that night, slow and steady

rinsing the blood from the grass under the deck

leaving only the dark splatter-stains on the woodpile

Those stains were still there

when Dad threw the logs on the fire that winter

I know because I checked.


Dad said we were going to keep the turtle shell

as a souvenir

so he left it nailed to the log in the woodpile for weeks 

scraps of withering meat still clinging to it


I used to crouch on the deck and peer through the slats 

just to make sure those turtle chunks

weren't still moving

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Sweet Silent Scream


Enveloped in sheets, in silence,

The sheets stay still, 

But in the mind is the scream--

the visit from you that won't stop


I see you; you do not,

I scream, plead and cry,

And you go on and on, with your life,


All I want, all I need, is to be 

needed, and wanted


You cry, and I scream to let me

Soothe your pain, to let me 

help in any way, 


and you stare into the distance, 

while I'm in limbo stuck,

in this sickly state I stare:


I want to be released. To let go and yet

Somehow this is still a.

sweet, silent.


Author's Notes/Comments: 

Somehow, nightmares just keep repeating. 


And yet somehow, we are sometimes most alive then. 

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Musical Fantasy

The piano keys keep playing in my mind, 

it's all on a great giant gorgeous rewind,

of all the time we had that so was so short, 

every new song i try to deport your memory,


but the addiction is still there like a giant cut,

it's a damned door dancing freely open that i can't shut,

it's a the wind that wails wistfully away,

notes never kneeling, dancing on piano keys, I can't say, 


my peaceful sleep i can't keep,

medication or counting sheep, 

there you are and i remember regretfully,

why i stopped listening to music so frequently, 


30 and frozen at 15, where the magic still flows,

i'll only be released when time knows 

allows for my story to continue onward onward 


it's just a moment, a flash, and i worry 

that you aren't full of happiness anymore 


and here i am in a musical fantasy. 

Author's Notes/Comments: 

It's poorly constructed but I suppose that could just reflect my state of mind right now. 



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Finding myself longing for the past,

That fleeting moment I was with you,

The scent of your cologne,

And your sheltered embrace.

Finding myself desiring contact,

To reach out and call you mine,

Not knowing what happened,

Finding myself far away.

The words you spoke,

The manner in which you made me feel,

I yearn for your presence,

Just once more.

Dreaming about us,

Never wishing to wake up,

It's the only place we can meet,

Anticipating our next encounter.

Discouraged is how I feel,

Upon waking up,

Finding I hadn't dreamt of you,

Taking a moment to remember our last.

Coping without you,

Something I didn't imagine I'd have to do,

Our meeting was brief,

But there's an imprint left from you.

Milking the past,

To nurture the present,

It's how I get by,

Without your essence.

That Old Beige Yankees Cap

That Old Beige Yankees Cap, not very sure when it was supposed to be on top of my grandpa’s head, sometimes at the park, sometimes at the backyard, sometimes just going for groceries, but it never disappointed when we went to my grandpa’s ranch. This cap isn’t new or from a nice brand, it doesn’t have a crazy design; matter of fact I don’t even know where it came from, but one thing was certain about it: it always put my grandpa in a good mood, as if it was his lucky charm. We used to go to my grandpa’s ranch several times a year, there I had my first outdoor adventure, my first starry night, the first time I rode a horse, the first time I tasted beer, when I was scared of the wary “invisible” monsters of the night, or when I felt the strongest kid alive by lifting some (not so big) logs for the fireplace; jumping from joy or shaking in fear, one thing was certain for me in that ranch: that old beige Yankees cap man would be by my side. Despite of the obvious baseball passion my grandpa had, I never quite understood the reason of his New York Yankees fanaticism, however he always swore on them; I think that is the reason why he used that old beige Yankees cap as if it was the only cap he had, which I know it wasn’t the case because I myself gave my grandpa more than 10 caps so that he could give his outfit a little update. He never wore any of those caps, or any cap for that matter, other than his beloved one. I never had the chance to ask my grandpa: where did you got that cap? How old is it? Why is it so special to you? Why do you always wear it? It doesn’t matter; what matters is that my grandpa loved it. Every time I picture my grandpa that cap is on his head (with that funny slight tilt he always wore it with) as if it had glued onto him forever. After grandpa passed away, and his possessions were divided among family members, I could’ve chosen his fishing rod, his knife collection or even his fine watch; I don’t know why, if I hate baseball, if I was fed up with it, but of course: I chose that old beige Yankees cap.

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Sweet Memories Evade Me

My eyes were addicted to falling leaves and sunsets

Manufactured homes and suburban monoliths

My neighbourhood friends

Riding my bike

Being driven down highway roads at night

The scent of the hallways in my elementary school

Cracks in the sidewalk

And optometrist waiting rooms

Going somwhere new on excursion days

My aunt taking me to video game arcades

Finding four leaf clovers and hidden backyard flowers 

Jumping on trampolines and watching cartoons for hours


The faces of my youth

The friends that loved me

Gone from my life

Now a sweet memory

Author's Notes/Comments: 

Life felt beautiful.

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The moment entered I the academia,

Encircled my mind was by nostalgia,

It seemed to me, speaking candidly,

As if the trees, the lakes etc. were calling me.


The same as before was the dove’s calling,

Except for the statues, the newly formed buildings,

More aesthetic the milieu does appear now,

How time does fly wondered I, how?


The memories let us live on,

Aren’t we dead when they are utterly gone?

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Remembering Rawalpindi Medical College (RMC)


Slowly, I leaf through the pages of

“Prof. Latif’s retirement special”;

With best wishes says the autograph

The year 1987.


His professional life, his achievements’ height

He’s long gone, like many others but memories

Are still fresh as the forest’s night


I feel the tug of 'that' invisible line,

That runs from my past,

From a place called RMC.


Extending way back through the corridors,

Looking past lecture doors

Brushing, the anatomy and physiology posters,

I drew then

Now hung on the walls.


I trace it round the dissecting hall.

Its desiccated bodies and formalin soaked specimens.

Bunked lectures and youthful shenanigans


Hanging out at the corner kiosk

Or playing cool in the college canteen


The line has never been forgotten.


But it gets covered, with day-to-day routines

Now, we have taken different roads,

Moving in different directions.


We read Facebook conversations,

Click through nostalgic pictures,

Yearning that youth, that young face:

That young feeling


The line has gaps in between, when we have been,

On several other journeys;

Operated in foreign theatres

Run clinics away from home...

Laughed and shed a tear, held a hand,

Solaced some one’s sad and untold fear.

Thinking do we need the line


Nostalgia has its own specific charm,

Smiles, unspoken words, tears,

All gather to form a new sphere,


40 years on it connects us

Extending from that old building

Connecting its countless souls

Synchronised with our heartbeats



It becomes visible


Author's Notes/Comments: 

Our 40th Reunion, I am planning to read it to my colleagues. I hope it stirs the same emotion I have experienced writing it.


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