Poems by Daud Haider

Daud Haider
Poems by Daud Haider

Spare us!

Imprisonment I know, like a familiar nightmare
by heart
I have peeled months and sieved seasons in jails
Here I am, hunched again among scourges of loneliness
Bruised by a two-headed hydra — terror and an invisible virus

Despairing and dead
Hungry and ailing
Men in perpetual winter haunt pyres and graves across centuries,
as gigantic griefs every waking hour
Their phantom screams pound my listless ears

Spare us, O goddess of dark nights, spare us your bloodied, frightening grimace


My flag

I have been thinking of you now and then, O ferryman
Thinking of your children too
Thinking of all the promises made to them
Promises of food, home, love and hope
We are no nearer fulfilling them, O ferryman, on this dying earth
Who will save them from shrapnels of relentless fury?
Every exit slams shut
Every breath is caught in a plough of pain

Can’t find life anywhere, any more
It’s been blown away by toxic draughts
No one sleeps
Starvation bores through their eyes
Thirst singes their throats
I can hear cries, fathomless cries, from the depths of seven seas
Can see footprints, bewildered

Who will be left standing on this scorched earth to carry my flag?
Someone I can call my own?



“This is a land seized by friendlessness,” Anna Islam said the other day
“A land fenced by distance
where man shuns man, shadows and silhouettes
When will this dreary twilight end its siege?
What destiny keeps knocking at the door, marches up and down the streets?”

The sin that dug deep into our bones, marrows, limbs and into our heartstrings
Where do we ever bury it? I asked
Whether in the open
Or in the recesses of anonymity?

“Watch out for time, watch out for the scales in its hand
Step aside, till it tallies our lives and losses to the last farthing,” I thought, aloud


Shroud of grief

Prisoners we are, locked in an oppressive despair
Caught we are, in a shroud of grief
Nothing else but famine and pestilence visit our courtyards
No sweet birds sing any more
Fear and darkness rain from the wings of vultures
Nightmares have replaced dreams,
sapped the conscious, the unconscious too

Hungry we are, and begging for morsels
Our wails
Our cries
Our woes
Our sighs
Fall on deaf ears, every day
And lose their way among eternal wilderness



We are alive today
Can’t say so about tomorrow
Saplings of mercy have shrivelled up
The universe mourns at the pyre of love
and washes scars with tears

Can’t call nature a blessed dreamscape now
She has sworn revenge
from the ramparts of chaos
while corpses pirouette around her —
What brought about this doomsday?
Do not ask me, I do not know
Do not ask the lonely goddess who beheads herself
She doesn’t know either

Destructions rush to black holes, plunge headlong
What follows? What remains?
In the moonless charcoal night
Among crooked and shifting shadows
No one’s a sinner
No one’s a pall bearer, any more


(Translated from Bengali by Swati Ghosh)

Daud Haider. Exile poet. Haider was born in 21 February 1952 at Dohar of Pabna district, Bangladesh. He is an atheist. He is a Bangladeshi poet who was forced into exile after writing a poem that insulted religion including Islam. American Center,...

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