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Traveller on Foot

by Waqas Naeem

I believe the Buddha
walked quietly,
away from privilege,
from nothingness to nothingness,
on an avenue of suffering.

I skip the part where he sat down.
Only walking interests me.

If only I knew
I was running away
from some truth
or towards
some sudden calamity,
I would change my pace too,
find a tree’s shade.

Wild night on H Street,
flings me across the parkway
to Baltimore.
I see the wind carries no stars.
The only light here trembles out of a shady motel
to warn me:
my feet
are in the wrong place.
I keep walking anyway.

A narrow lane receives me
in Islamabad.
An unmarked, open gate leads
to a rooftop celebration around a fire.
The flames burn my gullet.
I stumble and exit

on to a defeated path
in the dust of Harappa,
its ancient heat sits on my skin
right beside the ignorance of its guardians.
Two feet sink there,
weight on shoulders claws into flesh,
pushes me down.
I do not resist
in the hope of being buried
to be excavated
in another age.

On a bridge near the Pacific, I emerge.
My brown reflected in the cold blue.

Author-photo_Waqas-NaeemWaqas Naeem is a journalism instructor and an amateur poet. He teaches at the National University of Sciences & Technology in Islamabad, Pakistan. His poems have appeared in Eastlit, Subprimal, and Papercuts among other journals. He is also the director of the South Asian literary collective, Desi Writers’ Lounge (DWL).

Image credit: © 2013 Waqas Naeem

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