‘Ativan. Atraxia. A July evening.’ by Afshan Shafi

1.’His mind is a violet’

To a six year old,

It was easier to contribute his

Primitive scrawled vision

To a defect easily imprisoned

By rainbow crayola

Where my brain was meekly lush

And perhaps more conflagrated

Like a glade-scaly blazing star,

His burden was held to the blowsy

Flame of consciousness by a craw of


Eyeless but voluminous,

An apostrophe in the blared

Consensus of his vividities,

And yet, mother of his aerate


The light maleficent, expensive,

and veins,

thickly scattered like broken glass

He performed his duty by it,

Grew his soul sleeker with harvest

But for me,

There was only the violet invention,

To abide by,

His mind was a knot of wild flowers

And mine yet disentangled,

The circuits still and chrome-rich,

But his

Stroked with circuitous umber

Each time the wing of a transformation

Scraped the soft wound

Of his invented world,

I knew keener,

The strange and celadon

Lightness of my own pursuit.



His cries do not unfold with algorhythmic


No contusions, surcharged,

Like those found on marble,

Flicker above the whetstone,

The sculptured oval of his tears;

subtle congested scatter

He can be found fringed with purple marl,

A daydreaming prince, lantern nests of

Mesh forming the viscera,

The great silky oriflamme of

His cupped head,

A globe of wool,

Grazed cellophane, lethal orange

Marking the pith,

The sky breaks through its net of bones,

Door to door

They collect his cries

In stainless pails,

The women glitter,

The heat of their chuckle, is a


A Venusian menagerie,


The temperature

Of him, unspeakable



All literature is evil,

When you’re climbing down the wood dew,

Down the lit stairs,

And the blood in your supporting hand

Comes to the surface,

Like jetsam,

Everything is occult,

The human cacology of the whirring dark,

Your throat heavy with

New and gravid betrayals,

Your plea for slumber,

Is the alphabet in chalk on

Summer breath

Each pound of air you nourish

In your mirrored gut, is

Delivered to the world

As, petals of nickel,

Vaporous, wired

Some angsty curator

Divining their manner of florescence


It is not that you are this inflammable thing,

Returning to the shirr of pleasure,

Within the verve of your web,

And your bonny preludes

It is that you are free of

The slaughter of age,

Submerged in clarity

To the rims of your eyes,

Each vowel, intoned is acidic,


Exceeding the reddening

Abstraction of water

At your feet



So much of it is an anticipated

and congruous

exegesis of faeries,

tetradactyls, blunt roars,


a kind of asserted and germanic asphyxia

sometimes you hear the voices of the rootless,

through the primrose, littoral walls,

asking you to stand by and just witness

their warm polemic


Your complicity isn’t required however,

just a retreat into the quiet,

shaped by orchid whispers and

attendant, august

now tangible to the eye.

You are defeated every time

by what you utter for forgiveness,

the fulsomeness of death


you more than you should allow,

granting you a notoriety,


the high blue of the mosque,

its mute and gargantuan


brooding over labyrinthine

ribs of silver,

prayer dwelling beyond the brick,

like an exponent of retreat,

at your nave


the wave of your compulsion,

regretting your commonness,

your mundane subtleties.

Afshan ShafiPoet’s Bio: Afshan Shafi lives in Lahore, Pakistan and has studied English Literature and International Relations at The University of Buckingham and Regent’s University London. Her poems have appeared in 3am magazine, ditch, Full of Crow, The Toucan, Mad Swirl, Visual verse, Black heart magazine and others. Her debut collection of poems ‘Odd Circles’ was published by Readings (Pakistan) in 2014. She is the editor of  the forthcoming Abbreviate Journal.

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