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An Instant Portrait Artist in a Chaikhana

My dear artist,

waiting for my caffe latte, I see you

on a love-seat with a Picasso in hand—

You pose as if you were only reading.

Lead-grey sweater and casual footwear,

a goatee and fashionably unkempt hair:

you sit alone, half visible in the corner seat

near the exit aglow with a dull blue,

which is rather odd in a place where they come

to talk in superlatives over heady drinks

and stub the butt-ends of their days

in heavy-duty glass ashtrays.

Dear artist, I’m afraid

these ghosts obsessing over the cellphone screens

and shouting their heads off over the banal

spell out the i-r-r-e-l-e-v-a-n-c-e of art.

This ‘Instant Portrait’ that reads over your head

flickers like a dying flame. As the time’s wheel rolls

you‘ll think of Van Goghs and Andy Warhols.

Dear, with your sketchbook and a pencil box,

neatly placed beside your trendy cigarette case;

and the book that you read with so much grace,

you look as if you were sitting for a portrait.

  • Born and raised in the vibrant heartland of Pakistan’s Punjab, Sibghatullah Khan grew up surrounded by nature’s sounds and sights. He cherished his interactions with birds and animals, letting those moments shape his youthful daydreams. Khan started crafting poems during his high school years, drawn to the art of words without any rigid adherence to one particular style. In his childhood, stories shared by his grandmother sparked a love for narrative in him, an affection evident in his writings today. He feels a deep connection with the works of Lawrence, Frost, Whitman, Emerson, Hemingway, Dostoevsky, and Thomas Mann. This affinity combined with the unpredictability of life has inspired him to explore a myriad of poetic and prose styles. In poetry, he finds joy in the limitless freedom of free verse while appreciating the resonance of past traditions. He is an Assistant Professor of English Literature at National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad.