Issue 16: Afshan Shafi

Schizo Fairy


‘You are a falsehood, you are my illness, you are a ghost’  –  Fyodor Dostoyevsky


‘in a split second the dream

piles before us mountains as stony

as real life’   –  Wisława Szymborska


I. It starts in the hands

Red ribbons around black hair.

inside, a girl born to airful snow,

snow like a scarf around her neck

Oh for it suddenly to be

acrostic backflips

Pixie at dew-needle

motorized influential

the blinding parklands

inescapable froidure

of the walls

heathen master

it charges it relishes

Matadors and atlases

those little slips

Plutonium brace holds

Pixie contortionist,

chewing a folded



petrol fills the eye

fundamentalist's ignition

riddle of the manor


tomfoolery spilling over in stone,

those enchanted shells


pixie on the mind

out the second

mother calf

what viscid filament,


these winged colossi,

rings and rings

of docks, 

claustrophobia of nature

the room is fountain


a topaz eyed dryad she

fluctuates in her taffeta

in a bulb housed bobbing 

careening serenely

in the attic-slat

found at gloaming 


desist, desist, 

Lamina extruded

mother fat 

cheap, free abuse

desert hoist of steam

my pencil smokes

Augustan chief

redlands woody hair

Necropolis militant

'I disagree with the long neck

of the starlet

flamingo vice

her scarlet brogue'

She leaves the cold,

hyaline grasses

throat- concatenates the 

thrilling streets

broken toe of

the steam-pastures

Panoptic exhibit

frolicking kiss of molecule

and spice

the enchanted nebulae


laburnum anchors

cut-glass aria with amethyst gravel

scatter teeth, rose

prolong your atticisms,

let us not extend perdition



reptile officers

let us be spoken to


kinetic murmur

II. knitted dreams

These lands, hungrier by night,

grow into suns'

under the eyes,

Shod in apnea, 

entire spasm

galvanized in urn;

carbon pox

(Parnassus, his argent ear )

cracks through monochrome


dislodged from sentinel

into cusp of

(Parnassus in foxtails)

liniment poured into ear

cortex skullduggery

(Parnassus at coppice with spade)


the thin painted mind,

they paraded me thus

palisades of fleeing civilians

scimitar of quake,

(Parnassus, in pleated bearskin)


the plantagenet thus

philosopher-boy with his toys of mud

iron cloud

over boiling mouths

Ring cymbal

mad clasp of

the belial at shore

(Parnassus, his milk-stained couplet) 

vassals of that glutton,

part the colors of

the sphere,

Sanctuary, sights isle


immunity's white cloak,

dulcet wounds



III.  the house of whistling shadow

Each creature on this ground,

soars further and further

with tempestuous aspect,

the painted are moored out of canvas

mirrors widen and scream their 

liquid song

Astride cinnabar


thoughts cracked on

whetstone darling buds,

brimstone palms

whirring petal off cheaply

even day-gaze


pendulous altitude 


body merely a centimeter

of beat,

its tripling


sky rusts,

rutilant bruise

carriers scuttle

to lake; chaffing between

boulders of navy polythene

(the lowly jaunt to




machinist laws

as language

dendrite construction

over opaque vault,

Hyperbolic hair-making

of vermin,

mimics the

trussed skull

of the priestess

before incantation

flutes and those heavy brushes

Here, she mops her cut-mirror brow 

lends her touch,

despair, the warrior

his bounty

of voices,

his shingled tone,



despair the equal

plane, the creaseless spike

of land,

(paper-boats on


despair the temple

where they

preach on wave

Not for me the cussed out scholar

his Titian carcasses

Not for me the ambition of 



IV. Such a clever girl!

I swear I have a witch's elan,

I swear I eat joints of sapphire in sleep

and wake to blue hay and mud like

fairest wool

Fandango in


witch in chambray,

strut your triangular


speak the substance of your


diamond phial,

brush on

maquillage of the cosmic

unctuous shrapnel lids,

spin the baton,

its slicing emerald


Your desolation;

tossed magma

at morn

shoals of egrets,

engulfing the basilisk trough

witch, her camelia, scotch,


witch, her python river

furling outright

over mind's stalagmite


fulminating crisp hymn

torches hollow


Volta of heart


placketed bog,


A woman with a Chinese fan

and a novella,

the immense multiplying

and toppling edges

of the century;

her skiff


dark in plaster

mink crypt. idiom capsized .

the softness of those

black seas

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 Clinic, 3am magazine, Ala Champ Magazine, Melusine, Ink Sweat and Tears, A Literation, Uut Poetry, Muse India, Pour Vida, ditch, Full of Crow, New Asian Writing, I am not a silent poet, Visual Verse, Black heart magazine, and others.

Her debut chapbook of poems Odd Circles was published by Readings (Pakistan) in 2014. She is the founding editor of the online Abbreviate Journal and also a poetry editor for The Missing Slate and the forthcoming Aleph Review.


Copyright © 2016 by Afshan Shafi, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.