August 2020

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In Quarantine Searching for Meaning - by Maya Kaabour (Photo by Bianca Berg).jpgPhoto credit: Bianca Berg

In Quarantine Searching for Meaning

By Maya Kaabour

A pen is just a pen
until you write
a death note
or a love note
with it.

A song is just a song
until your soul tornadoes
through your body
and your feet bleed
in blisters
to it.

A fire is just a fire
when you see it
burn a stranger’s house on TV –
but when it burns your room
and leaves you
with just
one childhood album
the context changes.

Multiple Sclerosis is just a
disease that’s difficult
to spell
but when it puts
your mother
through hell
well, the name
is no longer
the same.

All day and night –
the Earth orbits the Sun
and all the world’s
inanimate objects

one

after

the other

orbit in search of their meaning.
These objects
make their way in
and out of our lives:

catastrophically

illogically

metaphorically

periodically

before we have even
had the chance
to notice them.

Humans
do the same
sometimes.

We are nothing but layers
upon layers
of constructed
and deconstructed
meaning:

Names.

Nationalities.

Religions.

Genders.

Spectrums.

Ideologies.

Labelled kinks.

Concealing what
we’re really feeling.
All day and night –
we rush to take the
busy train to
Meaning Town.
The train is sticky
and over-crowded
and invasive
at times
like the armpits of
the man
standing next to you.
But we keep
buying tickets
and arguing over seats
despite all of this.

As the meaning for One
was not enough
so venture into the search for
the meaning of Two.

One day someone
stripped me of all
my belongings.
Left me in Quarantine.
Devoid of my anchor
of Meaning.
Suddenly my lamp
devolved into
just a lamp.
And my plant
was just a plant.
(Despite the occasional
wilt in plea
to water it.)
And my clothes –
no longer
a mean of self-expression
but merely there
to make sure
I am not
bare.
And I started saying things
like I meant them.
And I really felt things
when I felt them.
(Without giving them
too much value
or subjective meaning.)
And the Earth stood still
And the Sun shone through –
Neither dependent on the
movement or the stillness
of the other.
And I found meaning
in having no meaning.
And I thought:

What a wonderful time
it is right now
to be alive.

Me, here in my room.
You, there in yours.
That on its own
will suffice.
That on its own
is a lullaby.
Without the Chaos
of Expectation
and the loud noise
of Meaning.


Ode to My Beloved City - by Archana Shivmani Rao (Photo by Nathan John)Photo credit: Nathan John

Ode to My Beloved City During the Pandemic

By Archana Shivmani Rao

In stillness…

you look even more magical

your roads – black silent snakes

the buildings – hush glitter boxes

the people – changing with changes 

you have tucked everything in your safe womb.

Your slumber, now is luminous.

Your slowness, now heals.

I shall wait … my beautiful Dubai,

for when you wake up,

you shall radiate with gargantuan strength!


The Flickering Light of Hope - by Suramay Pidara (Photo by Dmitry Ratushny).jpgPhoto credit: Dmitry Ratushny

The Flickering Light of Hope

By Suramay Pidara

Silent melodies of melancholy,
blown out in puffs of smoke;

were enough to destroy the aspirations-
of a dreamy-eyed bloke.

He was too lost in his reveries-
to grow and blossom.

Like a birch tree’s leaves falling in autumn,
he fell from grace and hit rock bottom.

He still cherishes-
the memories of his experiences.

However, in bottles of rum and grievances,
he slowly perishes.
Yet, he holds on to a loosening rope.

He still extinguishes darkness-
with the flickering light of hope.


A Portrait of You - by Zainab Udaipurwala (Photo by Nouman Raees)Photo credit: Nouman Raees

A Portrait of You

By Zainab Udaipurwala

All this while
lurking around the art gallery
nothing caught my eye
as much as this
one painting
that hung high upon
the tall white ceiling

It had shades of crimson red
and carnelian,
underneath the
lips and the sides
of each cheek

Along with the strokes
painted with mulberry
and a mixture of plum
that signified the
damage beneath
the eye

It was like
the painting was
screaming for attention
towards the behavior
that had been displayed
upon the face

It seemed so vivid
as if the portrait
had tears running
down its face
with muffled voices
trying to put across
a forbidden message

But, the lips
appeared to be painted
with a thick layer of
greyish white
that prevented the
screams to travel
past the canvas

There was a story depicted
through the depths of
smudging, thin lines
and strokes that
are beyond ones understanding

And, at the bottom of the canvas
your name was written in silver
along with the title “A Portrait of You”


Facade - by Neeraja Kumar (Photo by Nick Samoylov).jpgPhoto credit: Nick Samoylov

Façade: Enfilade

By Neeraja Kumar

I am these buildings that surround me.

Rising as if out of transparent, thin air:

    breathing.

breaking to howl for oxygen as

they twist in their own architectural  dance.

Claiming their stakes in poems that did not exist until

 their foundations were built.

 their beams were set up.

strong ladders were leant against the shaky brick walls for creating support.

Dust was scraped; nails were bled into the hardening cement.

There were days when they cupped their hands together and prayed as rough edged rollers painted them in unimaginable white hues.

Then, finally:

when the workers told them that they were firm enough,

they’d framed themselves in windows with wood olive brown and sandal paste soft,

decorating themselves with

 

 jewellery               pretty                  new house                                    soothing

                          perfect makeup                        forever patient                      calm

 expensive clothes                 cute eyes                             subtle curves

              pretty                   high heels           heavy wig                soft voice             sweet smile

faux pas                        pretty

 faux                   faux                      faux                 faux               faux                faux              faux

 

 succulents carefully balanced on tired windowsills so people can

see, see, see, see…

See me.


Ancestor's Calling - by Abeer Alaloul (Photo by Frank Albrecht)Photo credit: Frank Albrecht

Ancestor’s Calling

By Abeer Alaloul

Our roots are like those of an olive grove

carrying stories buried in the soil, beneath the earth

no matter how many they cut off

disguised with villas and buildings,

the whispers of our ancestors will always be there.

Sometimes on a windy day

you might hear the farmers’ whisper,

free the land


Hope of Freedom - by Ishan Zalpuri (Photo by Luca Tosoni).jpgPhoto credit: Luca Tosoni

Hope of Freedom

By Ishan Zalpuri

Long ago in a village
I saw a beautiful bird sitting in a cage
it seemed as if the bird was fake as it didn’t move
but if you looked in her eyes, you will presume
that she is crying for hope, reason to live but couldn’t express
as the courage of that bird was depressed

Days and nights passed by and she didn’t move or sleep
but one day another bird came to her and she moved
tweeting to each other through the bars of captivity
it seems as if the bird in the cage was reborn

the bird had found hope for life
and thus kept trying to escape
the flames of her courage were ignited
by the will of getting out

the morrow I looked at the cage and couldn’t believe my eyes
the bird was out in the moonlight of night
it couldn’t have been possible without the hope she got
from the other birds’ message of freedom


In The Silence of The Field - by Benjamin Skomorac (Photo by Aaron Burden)Photo credit: Aaron Burden

In The Silence of The Field

By Benjamin Skomorac

I cast my glance far away
as my eyes spread the silence of the blades of grass.

I am wondering, unbearably,
does any blade die
without the knowledge of the whole field?

I slowly adhere to nature
to that world of stunted herbs.
The words became petrified with unison,
in the infinity of thoughts,
while I merge the pictures of the unbearable
torrid city asphalt and
entwined thicket in the murk of the sky.

Wailing of the city melt into the abyss
freeing itself from the harmony of the width
of boiling sky of Sahara and
rainy Amazonia,
without the intactness of silence
in true greenery.


Reading to My Little Brother - by Abhirami Nair (Photo by Annie Spratt).jpgPhoto credit: Annie Spratt

Reading to My Little Brother

By Abhirami Nair

three, tall, stoic, lucky bamboos stand against the wall
riddled with amber wounds now
feng shui fettered somewhere in its pose

‘lucky bum’ you call them
you and the sliver of baby fat 
under your chin
that took me back to a night some months ago

it was bedtime
our thoughts encased in the dreary dampness
of the night
a small body beside mine 
and strawberry toothpaste breath
slippery
on the hard-bound walls of the fairytale book
‘there was a boy who lived with his mother’ and so on
my voice, its frilly frock and all
lost somewhere in the brambles of your disinterest.

‘so you will be the first to die’
you say suddenly, your eyes still fixed on the page,
your lips still pursed
‘and I will die many years after you’

my surprise is quiet,
smirky,
you are young-and-unwise-y
childish thrall in my 
‘yes, I will die first’

and suddenly the night gains color
my smirk hangs limp in the air
yes, yes, yes
we lie like that in the quiet
till your fingers find mine
a wet kiss on my chin
‘I wish we could die together’
you whisper to yourself

and in that low lamp light
I loved your uneven haircut
and cavity-clad teeth
a little more

but I can see that your mind has already wandered
that the moment is already lost
you whine that you’re hungry
and I get up to fix you something.


Capella - by Veronica Byrne (Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski)Photo credit: Evgeni Tcherkasski

Capella

By Veronica Byrne

The moon is out, the heavens are clear

Celestial bodies bear down light through years

night years, light years, empty years

reaching Earth spent and done

An echo, a memory of what once was

a fire ignited in the heavens above

the birth and death of a Celestial God


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