Photo credit: Hakim El Haj
The Swallow’s Song
surely but slowly maybe I too will come to heal
and the bees will swim in a brook of light floating swarm like spawn over my body
daffodils in the gutter.
The run of yellow breadcrumbs and yourself facedown in a patch of earth
the hungry neck suckles the words like warm honey spoon-fed from mouth to mouth
rude and shapeless the sunset will not wait for you, neither will flesh neither will planes.
grief dries like an impasto sunscreen and does the ache exist in the words or the silence inbetween?
Photo credit: Tarek Roumie
Everyone knows Coney Island.
But do you really know Coney Island?
neon multicolored lights.
The endless lines for everything
starting with that damn corn dog queue
ending with the toilet and everything in between –
The repetitive tingling polytonal sounds
forced onto you from each ride
blending in the air like pollution
plaguing your ears;
Toxic and confusing.
You’re terrified of people.
You’re petrified of loud.
Everything about carnivals
makes you want to run and hide under your bed.
Your friends tease you every single time
but you can’t tell them the truth.
The truth is, you’re scared of rides.
Photo credit: Kristina Kiseleva
Art Arises from Sadness
When I leave,
I will bestow my hopes upon you.
The kind of hope saddened musicians sing about,
the kind of hope that leave poets awake every night,
the kind of hope that art students try to pour into any form of medium
in order to create something beautiful-
but destroy the feeling deep inside.
Photo credit: Hakim El Haj
الشاعرة ديسي زانيفا-قصّاب
ترجمة محمد هاني قصّاب
واحة في الصحراء
كلها معجزات وعجائب
فقط من خلال جيلين
من حضارة البدو
إلى الحضارة العالمية
إنها دبي تراها في كل مكان
في كل ساعة استقبال في أفخم فنادق العالم
تنافس المدن العالميه كلندن ونيويورك
تتجول في هذه المدينة
و تنبهر من الوجوه المختلفة
السوق القديمة الشرقية التي تذكرك بروايات علاء الدين
مع جميلته ياسمين
و يكورات الأرابيسك الجميل
و على بعد خطوات ترى الحداثة في مراكز التسوق
و أكبر بيوتات الأزياء في آخر صيحات الموضة
تحس نبضات الحداثة
و لعشاق المطاعم فأحسن مطاعم الدنيا من الأطباق الشرقية الاصيله الى الأطباق والأسماء العالميه المعروفة
أناس من كل أصقاع المعموره
ثقافات مختلفه ومشارب للحضارات المتنوعة
و عندما تتجول بين هذه الحضاره والروائع
فأجمل إحساس هو الإحساس بالأمن
تتجول و تمشي فلا أحد يزعجك و لا أحد يسألك الى أين تذهب و من أين تأتي إن كنت و حيداً أو ضمن مجموعة أصدقائك
أماكن جميلة الزيارة أو السكن
إنها دبي لؤلؤة و أيقونة الصحراء
Photo credit: Sacha Mourad
By Hiba Memon
I have not known bliss,
That flutters in clutches of the rich and famous.
I have not known comfort,
That which silken robes and eiderdown can provide.
I have not felt love,
That which burns with passion and withers away as quick.
I have not known despair,
That which chases me into oblivion and splits my soul into two.
But I have known solace,
The kind that rages in the dark of the night,
Yet slithers slowly into the embers of my burning heart.
That which fills my melancholy with melody,
That which I lay my head upon in the odd hours.
King of the Gemstones
Free me of this bedrock, unearth me,
Break away the waste
Ancient shoulders shape my age,
Weather-beaten face etched of thin silk
I’m no artificial beauty
Crimson cranberry force
Scarlet rose rushes through fiery soul.
You think I’m so fragile
In rarest pure form,
Corundum won’t crumble
Test the strength that I am.
They say your best friend is Diamond,
And I’m just second best;
I say I’m your King for always
Your finest gemstone.
Photo credit: Ajmal Cholakkal
Ever had those nights,
those nights of a tired soul?
Your eyes begging you to close
to shut yourself for a few hours
to rejuvenate, to transform to a better self tomorrow
But there are those visitors
they visit you day and night
and when you turn them down
they riddle your mind for the rest of the night
And when your eyes begin to close,
these visitors never leave you alone.
They punch you right in your gut,
they slap you hard
till your cheeks turn red and your eyes swollen big.
These visitors, they never leave you alone.
The next day you see the person who was the cause,
the reason you were to meet those visitors at your previous dawn.
No regrets on his face, shining with a smile as bright as the sun;
a façade over the devious self
you didn’t imagine to exist behind.
Fast-forwarding the smile, the laughter, the genuine ones;
onto those targets,
there will be arrows tearing through their Ikhawu,
there will be visitors visiting them just like mine.
But closed ears
bewildered by those honey smoldered words,
the trap is set
like a moth towards the fire
like glass fallen on the floor
into tiny shards
just like you did.
Oh these visitors
they will leave you.
Yes, most definitely leave you
when you’re a mess.
Usually superglue fixes all broken things
but, now no superglue
in the name of love or whatsoever can fix what these visitors did to you.
And you’ll wonder, what is left for you to live.
Photo credit: Ahmad Minawi
By Sanjna Iyer
An un-inspired mind
Makes me want to shout
Like a window with blinds
Like an ocean in drought
The hand itches to write
But the mind will rebel
Nothing inspiring my soul
No Love tales to tell
The page stays blank
As I try to defend
Empty words in my mind
For hours on end
The coffee gets cold
The sun about to set
Nothing achieved as yet
Except growing regret
The lid back on the pen
And pages tucked away
Leaving the battlefield
Achieving nothing today
Photo credit: Hakim El Haj
“When you were born, your mother had no anesthesia”
By Ehrlich Ross
Extreme pain screeching through my spine as I push ankles
Hoisted up by the cold metal stirrup I lay supine and exposed I play
Russian roulette with death while my insides churning
Linear streaks lines my over stretched belly
I shout as I feel the sharp blade of the scissor
Cutting the skin of a supposed house of pleasure but is now
Housing agony what did I do to deserve this pain
Exiting here comes a head a shoulder a pair of arms a body and
Soul I kept and cradled inside me
To feel you warm in my arms as your cry
Echoes in this bleach smelling room with white tiles that for most
People is a place of beginnings or an end of life
Heaven must be missing an angel now for here it comes
Arrived and here nourished from my bosom
None of the pain matters anymore the blood the cut the
Incision the severed placenta my now
Empty womb an atrium for your genesis
oh how wonderful my body is
Enveloped by a woolen blanket my baby sleeps and coos as I sit
Remembering my plight during labour I am now afloat in mid-air dreaming
I am once again a girl running on fields of coconut trees
Catching dragonflies crossing rivers barefoot collecting rocks & seeking
Hidden treasures your grandmother forbid me from doing
Such silly things she calls my name from afar I ran towards her
Oblivious of how much trouble I will get for these dirty clothes but
Nothing really matters I am with overflowing joy
and that’s exactly what I feel right now
Photo credit: Samuel Zeller
Your words fly like liquid butterflies
crashing into new Life stanzas,
flirting with my untamed sentences,
coding the haiku and couplets of my Heart!…
Within these swirling meta-messages
ritualic cyphers play your daily hyphenations,
language symbols get reinvented
by this matrix of symphonic letters,
where today’s perception leaves yesterday’s carcass…
Life!…. it is really a prolonged romanticized chronicle
with contradictory paradoxes and poetic epiphanies…
But… I found you at the end of my Heart’s avenue
where I left my address written on an autumn’s leaf
and ambrosia welcomes you with the promise
of a new realm and immortality offerings
which you can find only inside my majestic verses…
Inside this vertigo written by a windy dream
ART paints its Life through US!…
This is what makes Love being LOVE!
And you being YOU!… Inside ME!…
Photo credit: Pujohn Das
I see hundreds of empty eyes,
staring blankly in space.
Some eyes that seem to want
to utter a few lines;
some eyes that dare not
speak a word.
And then there are those eyes
that seem to reveal,
unspoken sadness and grief;
and somewhere along the way,
eyes filled with anger or remorse,
things I really couldn’t tell.
In transit, I come to ask,
what my eyes
could have been meaning to say?
For as eyes are the windows to the soul,
can it perfectly reflect what’s in your heart?
more so, does it really want to reveal to others
everything they needed to know?
these eyes of mine that can see right through you,
these eyes of mine that wonders what is it that perturbs you
are the same eyes that have seen through…
loved ones’ share of joys and pains
successes and failures,
happiness and heartaches
and sometimes wishes it can do something
for those empty eyes of yours too.
Photo credit: Bence Boros
By Biji Dominic
Parallel lines never meet
Life can never be like parallel lines
Divided distance between lines
Life is a bliss when loved ones walk and think alike
For some it is well done, but life may be so complex,
Multitude of reasons to fight each other,
Loved ones reach a conclusion of
Like parallel lines, they decide to live
For the opulent, divorce is a fashion
Some folks, may not understand the meaning
Let the rich learn to listen to the inner voice
Life is not a bed of roses
Life can be made sublime by lover’s fervent
Loved one’s lives should not be like parallel
Photo credit: Ben White
By Susan George
A ray of hope for the unsettled heart;
The confusion, despair, and disappointment that certainly prevails;
A feeling of impediment dawns upon us during painful times;
Who do we turn to? Where do we find solace?
A flurry of thoughts run by us, even in moments of silence;
Because prayers are an art in itself;
An art not to be perfected, but to be a constant;
It shows the depths of faith in your heart;
It is the relief we always wanted to experience;
And then it is a metamorphosis of emotions;
You finally see what you are capable of doing;
All the things you could never imagine otherwise;
You had to just sit, pray and ask to shine light on your path;
The tears of joy are not tears, it’s your soul crying out of happiness;
For above all challenges and limitations; you finally saw what you had to see;
The higher purpose you were meant to fulfill;
All problems in life seem very subliminal.
You became a happy butterfly with so much to see and feel,
New people to meet
New places to go
New depths of prayer life to intercede for
I hope with all my heart that I will be always graced with your presence.
I pray for good health and happiness for everyone around me
For that is what I pray for
And that is what I dearly hope for
For hope and faith is what I have until the end.
Photo credit: Tristan Colangelo
By Jean Teodoro
The clock ticks,
Letting things pass
Without sense of remorse
Sounds of rushing,
On the path we are moving
Hearts beat to the rhythm they sing
Things so swiftly,
They will come,
And they will go
Leaving the present,
As tomorrow’s past
So live our lives,
To the fullest that it takes
Memories to create,
Not regrets, nor pain
Smile and let it go
Stand up and move on,
Because time would never stop,
Even if you wish to turn it back.
Photo credit: Ryan Holloway
By Sabeeha Khan
they ask me how I knew it was true love
when I never touched you like a lover does
when my smile never touched you like rays of the sun
after the clouds shift on a cold winter day
why I was so content to let the threads
stringing us together stretch and wane
when I knew you’d be straying further than any ball of yarn ever could
when it ends in tragedy, but that comes later
unrequited, but that comes later.
I tell them when I can, each time a bit more
how sitting next to you was like a breath of fresh air
how my dying mind at fourteen felt revived
like a parasite
all because of the energy you used to emanate
how falling in love wasn’t falling at all
but more like a sunset
one minute not, the next a burst of colors
and then gone; the sun has set. my love has settled
and the burst of colors has a steady, soft glow
burns quietly like a lamp in the middle of the night
and I sit in the lampshade, quietly contemplating
I tell them how every smile you gave me was like a sip of water to someone dying of thirst
ice slowly melting into water
tepid after basking in the sunlight
and a slow realization the way summer softly settles into skin
that I could live with you forever and somehow be happy
forsaking religion, foregoing reality
abandoning my conscience, all other love secondary
the way winter quietly seeps into bone
that I could give my life away for others but I could live for you
my mind giving me relief from the shadows
the heavy clouds seemed to throw over me
the courage to have a personality
to love with my whole heart, (just not when it comes to you, but that comes later)
I ask them what is love, if it is not the
abnormal thudding of my heart and the
foolishness of my mind if I give greater
meaning to simple things that friends do
like how a hug becomes arms winding
around necks and waists, heads resting at clavicles and shoulders
and a jostle from a long slumber
every limb and organ awake
sunlight filtering in through drapes, sunlight filtering through the crinkles of your eyes and the gaps in your full toothed grin
how I wrote poetry about the way your hands held mine, with purpose, with a firmness that said to me I love you, I will never leave your side, I will lead you and we will find better things together
how a kiss on the cheek becomes soft lips brushing marred, undeserving skin, and how the realization of “I cannot imagine a life without you” burns and spreads through my veins
at fourteen I knew that the way my eyes met yours across a crowded room was only something that lovers do
or a hopeless girl in love would
and this went beyond the way love was shown in a blur of arms legs and everything in between
I knew that this was a love so true
at fourteen I thought that friends did not hold each other like you held me, did not kiss temples and cheeks and eyelids like your lips brushed mine, did not see through the walls I put up in less favorable company like you tried to
I was only a child and so were you
but just because my love was innocent doesn’t mean it wasn’t true
sometimes children know better
they shake their head because what kind of redemption does a tragic love get
where is the silver lining? where is the optimist’s obtuse take on misery? there is none
and heart break invades every cell of my body the way night creeps-in after sunset
the night is now. the stars are out
a shift in the cosmos, a rearranged universe
a faultline in the canvas of my insignificant life triggered by monumental moments like
the brush of a hand, the laughter I made happen that sounded like bells (even though a little snorty)
and burnt caramel hair falling like a curtain but never quite hiding your face
even if it did I could never forget it
the way purple looks on your skin is prettier than the purples of the sun when it leaves me behind
you are not the one who is unkind, I tell them when they grow bitter at a love that did not end well
a cataclysmic build up of secretive smiles and adolescent confusion
ending up in nothing – anticlimactic
disappointing, no frenzied kissing
no lover’s embrace
no picturesque end screen credits with the uplifting piano ballad, romantic instrumental break
I tell them I am not bitter
how could I be when I realized who I am because of you
what a tragedy that would have been otherwise; I don’t know the earth and the shift in tides and whether there is a force watching over me doing nothing
I don’t know much but I know myself
and I know love
life will come later
I am who I am because of you
life can come later
because I’ve already known what it is like to play with sleep softened fingertips in a too loud, too bright classroom
surrounded by eyes and confused stares that work hard to not trespass boundaries
and ignore what is in plain sight
I know what it feels like to whisper in hushed tones and giggle childishly
I’ve felt longing and the gratification that proceeds it
when I ran to see you even after just barely an hour of separation
surrounded by your friends, shrouded and still there was a small comfort
surrounded by my friends and you made me the sun
the awkwardness I dealt with is part of my being now
but we spent too much time together so maybe it was always you
Brontë was onto something, so were the philosophers
maybe my atoms were closer to yours when the universe was created
maybe our souls are made out of the same soft fabric, well-worn and patchy with time
hanging by a thread that runs through every single fracture in the tapestry of stars you created when you burst into my life like a supernova
how can I be bitter now that I know what love, longing and endearment is?
my hugs last longer now. I smile a bit brighter, I forgot to when you left but you would have hated that
there’s a space for you now where there used to be a chasm in my chest
my mind is still shadowed because the clouds will always follow me around
but I remember you and I were, and that makes the sun shine a little brighter
the clouds will burst, but that comes later
for now I ‘m content with remembering you
in almost every word you said to me
and someday I will forget
but your smile touched me like the winter sun on a cloudless afternoon
(let the clouds clear and feel the mountain breeze, my lovely.)
Thank you to every writer for the thought infusing poems contributed and
thank you to every passerby for reading the art of our talented poets.
If you would like to have your poem or image published for the next
Dubai Poetics edition
send your poem or request to be a “visual artist” to firstname.lastname@example.org
Join us again in our Poetryhood!!
Enjoy more of our earlier editions of 2017: