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Volume 7

Outside: Looking In - January 2011


Osman Khalid Butt

Written by
Osman Khalid Butt

Osman Khalid Butt is a twenty-seven year old actor, director, choreographer, writer and video-blogger based in Islamabad, and is also a self-professed struggling-artist stereotype. A journalism graduate, he is the co-founder of Desi Writers’ Lounge, as well as poetry editor and creative consultant for Papercuts. He has also remained a freelance writer for Instep, The News, as well as the Editor of the web-zine Text Teen, and wrote his first screenplay for the indie-horror movie ‘Siyaah’, which released nationwide in 2013. Though he has dabbled in television, TVCs and film, theatre remains his first love; he has directed four productions under the banner of his company, ‘The Living Picture Productions’, one of which he wrote himself. He has also collaborated with the Lahore Grammar School, Islamabad, directing three plays with its student body, and regularly gives theatre workshops across the country. He says he juggles all of this by drinking too much Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster for his own good.


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And he said: It is the Shepherd who is strong. I am weak. I am weak. In fact, I have a thorn in my flesh (dramatic pause) a Satanic defect. And he asked the Lord for compassion, without seeking repentance or absolution from his depravity and decadence.But God showed him no mercy; oh no, His vengeance was just, and absolute. Praise the Lord!

– An excerpt from a sermon at Daughters of St. Paul Church.*

A brier in my throat; a stigma insistent
upon my navel, I
remember our last – a lover’s handclasp, though he
did not know then, kneedeep in the salt of his own suffering.
We embraced once as we met, and my tongue grazed

the small of his neck; one tenth of a second it took to unravel me
into the welcoming folds of the exiled, to a religion taught not
at Sunday Mass.
As I cradled him through his divorce under a waning sun and influence of
Single malt whiskey: a Christian’s drink
I noticed his complex skin hidden beneath a patchwork of black; bronze
pleated now with melancholy –
His cheeks like a bed of balsam, banks of sweet-scented herbs;
His lips, lilies
Dripping with liquid myrrh, or so reads the libretto
In the Song of Songs – and though the night ended in bathos,
In my carnal awakening
I’ve had thoughts of him rampant since; chimeral coitus
he’d take me then
Into the night where the moral and meritorious fade into obscurity.
Under sheets of black we’d embrace as lovers do
Nontraditional paramours savoring every inch of the others’ skin
tongue-tied savages toasting a more radical god
between every push and pull. He would lead us
into temptation and deliver me from a barren wife who holds my secret
at the edge of her tongue
who sleeps now under linen resentment.
Shame swallows me; ten painkillers taken
And deliria renders me pink and blue; a multicolored sinner with his personal
Brimstone and fire:
I hold a scissor in my right hand; thumb and index finger the only constant
In an otherwise quivering, unsettled body that craves strange flesh;
I am

from the waist down.
The land mourns and pines away,
God grant me courage
Lebanon is shamed and withers; Sharon is like a desert plain, 
For what I’m about to do next.
And Bashan and Carmel lose their foliage. [Isaiah 33:9]

* The excerpt is fictional



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