2022 Poetry Collection


“The one you would choose: Were you led then by him?”

“What longing, O Yaar, is controlled in real time?”

—Agha Shahid Ali (Ghazal)

i dreamt of tulips today

they opened their mouths

in a yawn the kind that engulfs the sun

in its vacuous mouth

like a little hurricane;

the sort of yawn that could swallow an entire

morning away–a calendar day buried under 

sooty ashtrays covered in last night’s

debauchery and the perfume of lovers

who come and go as quickly as the

tulips yawn.

i dreamt of tulips today and

think of Agha Shahid Ali’s poetry

in between the clouds of fruit-flavoured smoke

that keep me company as i try to

decipher these dreams in real time.

i hop from Blake’s flower-riddled landscapes

to the familiarity of ghazals,

all while dreaming 

about a dream 

about tulips yawning.

i dreamt of tulips today and now i

think they didn’t really mean anything 

at all; i find there’s a surprising amount of comfort

in knowing this and still being able to love them all the same—

perhaps the tulips remind me of someone,

an echo of a yearning many autumns ago;

or maybe they remind me of Srinagar in the summer

painted in decadence’s saffron colour
even as the war bathes it

i don’t know what to make of the tulips,

i confess; (should dreams even trouble you this much?)

i wrap up the dream dissection and carry on 

with tulip-coloured thoughts 

colouring my mind through the day:

this longing, o yaar, is controlled in no time. 

Shanai Tanwar (she/her) is an undergraduate student double majoring in psychology and English literature at the University of British Columbia. Born to Indian parents and raised in Dubai, she interned with Harper’s Bazaar Arabia and Cosmopolitan Middle East before working as an Editorial Assistant for Canadian Literature, UBC’s scholarly journal. When she isn’t petting dogs around campus, you can find her reading Victorian fiction or writing for The Ubyssey.

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