Afshan Shafi

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 or are forthcoming in Poetry Wales, Blackbox Manifold, Flag+Void, Luna Luna, Smear, Clinic, 3am magazine, Ala Champ Magazine, Ink Sweat and Tears, Uut Poetry, Muse India, Pour Vida, Full of Crow, New Asian Writing, Black heart magazine, and others. Her debut chapbook of poems ‘Odd Circles’ was published by Readings (Pakistan) in 2014. Her collection of illustrated poetry titled ‘Quiet Women’ is forthcoming in 2017. She is a poetry editor for The Missing Slate and The Aleph Review.
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Alice at 40

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“Still she haunts me, phantomwise,

Alice moving under skies

Never seen by waking eyes.”

-Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There

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  I-

(glamour is a science)

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I intended the world.

I intended the exhalation

that with each movement

confers

a curling woodlot

lametta armory,

Chyroslite to wear in teacups-

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The world is one purgatorium

and I another

the thunderbirds speak their viridian Farsi (hexameter)

explain the strength of their

slim bitter honing

it is an undertaking, it is an invention

it is the stelliferous

Afghan     fox welkin

it is Demeter the

burlesque skeletal  in

moon-pawed Riviera,

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it is a Pharoahs’ prayer for

the espaliered comets

of his chiefdom

it is everything

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and I the calf psalm,

an Olympian, a wader of heaths!

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I am a bankrupt baron of industry

sweetening his chronic exile with

pills for reduction

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I am the dun trident

colonising

a once liquid thatch of earth

yes

I have been of use to the Auspice,

to divine the rumor/plurality

of fate

I have been both fable and doll

a White crow

white plash

coursing over my frost palanquin

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After all the flesh is only little

(Little flesh, but peroration, peroration)

I must keep the company of chemists

the bile gurglers

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I must not listen to this illness

that disgusts the astronaut,

the charioteer-                                                                                                         

love

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and makes of the matutinal a pale grass,      

peroxide fodder

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II-

(the edible world)

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All the good things, persist;

easy larceny, yes stardust, yes cambermet

yes rafts on Camelot.

In lichen envelopes

square cards enclosing one word;

‘Normal’

silly private catastrophe

a muchness deserving

Inspectors in cranberry parachutes

proclaiming felony on ground

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The whole world polices

the downy breast of the obscene bird

(a parturiating pluto-bound being)

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If only I could be – What wonder in composing

an apathy-ritual

an arietta; adultery

I suppose I am a

stranger to these pavements (vichyssoise)                                                        

brioche coppices and puddles where haddock

asphyxiate

I am a stranger to appetite,

My bones ( Arabian  coda, under

the clarity of frommage pastures )

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All November, I sat with my wings scaled,

for someone to come claim me

and yes, to tear the soiled airfoils

to maculate, torch or deny

the orality of the wings                                         

When will I cross with thirst

a Crimea

beyond the milk bluffs, 

When will I cross with thirst,

that

bloody

glace Everest

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