‘Moondark’ is latest poetry collection of Muzaffar Ghaffar, who is an amazingly prolific writer. This is his sixth collection of poetry, not to mention his voluminous prose work written on the Masters of Punjabi Urdu poetry, Baba Nanak and Shah Husayn etc.

Mazaffar Ghaffar has an intellectual and emotional bent and his poetry is replete with original and refreshing metaphors and images. His style is condensed as he weaves precision and accuracy into his verse like an archer's stroke. His themes are original, titillating, somber and intuitive having his own singular take on issues like a lone wolf struggling with his internal discourse.

“I cannot break the magnet if it shatters, all its pieces will be magnets. I wish to dive inwards to hide. In this ghastly repulsion for theme-spirited attraction is skin-sweet.”

He portrays love in its sublime form of being sacrosanct and stellar and on the flip side cold, fickle and treacherous. His opening words in his poem Moondark are, “Love distills moonbeam potions and sets up a tavern beautifully proportioned vintner.”

Love, as he depicts, it is an epitome of idealism and intoxication that two besotted man and woman embrace. But there is accompanying loss and pain as he says, “Then your gaze shifted/like a singed moth...once again Birha had jilted.”

Whilst believing in the sublime image of love, he is disillusioned by its outcome, a fear of being abandoned or jilted. He says, “Who can possess her? The empress of the aftermath. The princess of the hunt. This divine woman.”

Muzaffar Ghaffar employs metaphorical images to fathom his inner self. The poetry he writes is significantly cathartic, giving rise to a vast range of feelings, suppressed and simmering inside him.

Poetry is for him a purgatory of a tortured soul or one crying out for release and succor. The process of writing poetry not only inflames and castrates his passions but frees him from his demons.

In another poem, 'Poetry IV', he contemplates the idea of just letting go of his past, bringing it to the surface so it might bring peace to him. But he knows it will emerge again for there is no way memories can we wiped clean. He speaks out his dilemma, “Should I abandon words and walk the lush silences or should I wrestle with them knowing they will never be sufficient slaves.”

'Ennui,' is a fascinating poem that is a distillation of depth and irony. “Emptiness pounds into me - made me full. Oh! The potential! But at this price.” This condensed poem is a brimming outburst of great mindfulness.

The poem, 'Heer Ranjha,' is a twist from the original story. Heer and Ranjha consummate their marriage and later burn in the reality of the aftermath. The practical side of marriage with its responsibilities takes over the romantic phase and in the process dwindles into tragedy with Heer aborting her baby. “Ardor such as theirs - doesn't see twelve months together - So said the sages.”

Muzaffar Ghaffar is a man of versatility and there is a rainbow of themes of love and ecstasy fulfilled, and the more excruciating pain of love unfilled. He paints women of many colors, alluring women, voluptuous women, provocative and tantalising. He brings out the irony in one his poems, “The old man who thought age was an achievement cannot look into your eyes. His heart crying for a glimmer of youth.”

Ghaffar is a practical and intrepid man who can look into anyone's eyes and speak the truth, however hurtful it might be.

There is a continuous underlying yearning for love that can serve as a springboard for a more fulfilling life. This feeling of emptiness sans love depletes the spirit and plunges it into despair.

There is a lingering hope, whether illusion or reality, of things returning to normalcy. There is a holding on to Moondark, a grief that will not extricate itself from its densely entangled branches.

Ghaffar speaks the language of a writer, the truth and nothing but the truth. He explores cultures, their intricacies and nuances: “These are not cultural spaces. They're black holes which will, willy-nilly, suck in colors from cultures.”

He ponders on change, metamorphosis of our cultures and societies, “The old will be gorged by the new. The keyboard will isolate us from skin, and make us supernovas...in the process and aftermath will new stars be born.”

Ghaffars’s poetic canvas has many levels and dimensions, soaking like a sponge, the complexities of life and our human condition. He feels intensely and deeply and has sharp sensibilities. He immerses himself into life, into love, has known heartache, lived inside the human condition, in what is called Moondark.

This like a supernova explodes inside him and throws its brilliant light on his creative process and his panoramic work. His creative work fulfills him and is the spring that slakes his thirsty mind and soul. All his longings and aspirations feed off this cornucopia that has become his life’s mission in the sanctuary of his reclusive mind.

The writer can be reached at naqibushra@gmail.com.