Between The Lines

Bomb blasts hit Aleppo. Couurtesy:Rreuters/SANA



Azad Ashim Sharma

In memory of my grandparents A.B Kazi and Zainab Ebrahim Asvat.


I am a muslim not a terrorist
you see it is the recitation of discourse.
Your speech is free
mine is expensive
the sugar on my tongue becomes
a felt phenomenology of rotten lime.

I implode within you
on top of Waziristan peaks
subservient to arbitration
of internecine violence.

This interested party is reaping
and sowing politics in bazaars
where pressed black cumin
rains gold on tyrants and intelligence.

All your tautologies now express
biopolitical data sudokus
confusing bare life
for its catastrophic new ontology
& death like dank air holds ungrievable.

Your bullets pierce
flesh made foal orchid
as separatist islamist.
In the detention centre
mothers and fathers
are gagged in costumes
their oesophagus stitched
together with their children’s genitalia.
Their anus the source
of divine poetics for jihadi joy.

Those imps are murder
special forces sent in
to disarm necessary measures
in desperate times
culpability displaced the drone
command of X:-
the frame pulls you through
in time to carve the Christmas turkey.

Meanwhile, angry Ali fucks America
with hook-tied hands losing intricacy
in totalised garbled protest slogans.

Compare this not to those sympathies
their unclaimed ethical failures
attached to traumatographic discord
& talks of compensation for torture.

I strike your dialectics with anterior resolve
and awaken numbed in silent stress
positions beneath these infra-red end stops.

I must evaporate
through the sarin gas vortex
like Meccan sands
on a Corsa’s wing-mirror in summer rain.

The typhoons and tornados
will drop their bombs
within hours of democracy.

Party divisions are fault lines for speech-
talk and here I am your terrorist sympathiser
kneading earthy dough out of Abu Ghraib’s ash works.

Above invisible cross hairs,
the pane incarcerates damages.
You emerge fluffy with affect
open-ended and disillusioned
by the festival of corpse exhibitions.
These amnesties of analysis
are journalistic without empathy
for regions unattended by softwares.

Sykes-Picot? Wallah! Let’s go
back there and bulldoze for freedom.
That mantra of false monochrome flags
permits Sam Harris’s epidemiology of Islam
& Doug Murray’s pathology of the infidel
within the European fortress to vindicate
ars historica in the midst of midday shadows.

More white foreskins
must preen like satire
with human rights
to vote offence
and make Arab grave
for occidental cenotaph spectaculars.

Those sanctimonious pirates have come
to put dream works on steel slats
detaining these limbless orphans
in the name of security from dictatorship.

That policy is terrific bunk-bed
flash banging your mind against brick
& those photographs were examples
of sexual progress and liberalism.
Even prisoners of war can beat democratic
militarised and bent back double gagged
live on YouTube next to Saddam’s hanging.

Everything has slipped away
into the algebra of the ballot box.
Paper becomes shattered glass
crushed under turntables of navels
in Aleppo where protest sings.

This montage is a garb for unfreedom
it stipends our blood to loan sharks
and weeps against the grain.
It frightens us with pennies in its foaming mouth
biting down onto our burgundy passes
like bullets in a kidney | like mud on an eyelid.

At the breaking point
every newborn will wheeze
with gunshots for economics.
We will blame each other
as others for joblessness
and for borderless dividends.
The media descends
into the known chaos
pointing its shriveled white finger
with the cocksureness of VAT for sugar.

In Barking they’re fit for purpose:
mad with rage at foreign objects,
eyesores for un-empathic subjects.

In the academies,
this will all become a trauma
or a loss or a memory
or an exhibition of Nackträglichkeit.

Precarity has become
the buzzword for whiteness.
A whiteness so world interior
that it mistakes itself
for the critique of itself
& forces that critique upon us.

The walls smelled of gasoline and fresh paint.
Those candles aren’t so romantic
but you can see the words
paki, nigger, turk, wog, coolie
tagged on the peeling concrete
as the artists are standing there
in white collars with white phlegm
dropping from their thin rose lips.

The drowned bloodshot blue face
is an icon for the nation’s state.
You cling on to the corporate sanctioned
image of an innocent uncovered from rubble
for confirmation that this life is worth living
and that they haven’t fought enough for theirs.

Sympathy is an Aegean soup bowl
and the vitriol on the tip of your tongue
the right’s discharge resurfaced as normal
After all it is so unreasonable
that an adult could just be
a refugee and not a hidden killer.

The ease with which white fear
comes to be represented
at a systematic level
to commit systemic violence
and siphon life away
from its true expression
in the day today is not something to marvel at
or be shocked by
but rather to resist with blood.

With the memory of
that moment on platform 6
when that child went to hold my hand
but the greeting is curtailed as
his mother drags him away as if:
“don’t touch him don’t sit near him.”
And what is worse?
Rejection by a mother and child
that image so close to home
or the understanding I have
of her choice in this climate of fear?

When we look in the mirror
we are made to fear ourselves.
When you look in the mirror
you see the victim, the innocent.
And you say these images are easy, simple,
don’t experiment with your language enough!

Each orifice poked and prodded by the white latex
made to cough, squat, gut wrenched,
checked for explosives in the airport cubicle
we all sit around wanting to talk
about our conversations but not listening to each other.
We pretend to lend ears but our minds are dallying
as if with circumstance this is the 7th degree of separation
when we’re all one word away from screaming to be heard
whilst pretended to be listened to and understood?

I resurfaced from the water cloth
my soul is with Lal Shahbaz
looking at the turn of the tourniquet
my neck exposed in the grey water
halved over borders quartered
in quarantine my black gaping eyes of mourning.

The watercloth took me
into a new neurology.
I felt compressed and
bathypelagic like
an uncontrolled urban spread
forced into a point
lugging this burden of staying still
with all the ways of knowing.

This my era of discount
at the gunpoint
or the checkpoint.
I am the snot dripping
from that child’s nose
the tears that child
can’t feel down its face.

I washed up as human contraband
greeted by hazmats on the sandbanks
left under tarpaulin at the mercy
of your disinfectant sprays & orderly truncheons.

I wore my hair proudly
as a seashell necklace
swimming in endless colourful coral.
I swam across shores
to find the pearl that will
liberate me from this ghusl’s penance.

The sea is so deep and majestic
swallowing us in admiration and fear.
Take me to the bottomless depths
of a person I wish to meet and to become.

The waves crash onto the chalk
and crash again and again
and again into the loving torment you bring
to me drowning in your silence.
My drowning nourishes your eyes
and in your passivity overflowing
all passivity before the simulation
you ban my existence without an apology.

Is a bomb or a ban more palatable?
When we go to sleep at night
do our mattresses rise-up hysterical
and regurgitate the still born traumas of unliveable lives?

In the bitumen for comfort
I was the baying hound
kept from a new moon
I long for but whine alone
at the crescent’s close.
Fugacious yet fecund
they call me maniacal
for my lack of hyacinths
& abuse of poppy nationalisms.

I stabbed his moth
into my solar plexus
punched the new skies’
plexiglass and cast
each poem as a kiss
of death to all words lying
resilient against your frame
of silent witnessing
thankful for boot heels
and bad moods’ belt buckles.

I shimmer in agony across the line
screaming through this bitten flesh
I saw you there in the pyrethroid hue
with your back turned in blue verdure.
Their insignia was cauterised in your smile
leaving your shoulder blades ruptured
as the date palm flutters its thorny wail.

I found mud and shrapnel to make you
these maquettes all prisoners to silicon tours;
and there you stand with your pierced lips
gawking like slaughtered goats on Eid ul Fitr.

–Extracts from “Against the Frame” published in 2017 reproduced with kind permission of Azad Ashim Sharma. The book is available at

Azad Ashim Sharma is a 25 year old poet living in South London. He is affiliated with the Brighton Underground poetry scene (especially Horseplay and Hi Zero poetry/performance series). In London, he has performed his work at Rivet and What You Saying? poetry/performance series and also at events organised by the Decolonising Our Minds Society (affiliated with SOAS). Furthermore, during his time as a student at Sussex, Azad co-founded the Sussex Guild of Poetry (now disbanded) which organised student poetry events and circulated a number of free poetry pamphlets on both Sussex and Brighton university campuses. ‘Against the Frame,’ (2017) is his first published work.









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