Photo credit: Oscar Keys
If I was smiling
If I curtsied
Would you come to hear me sing?
If my song was monotone
If the chorus never rhymed
If my metaphors were obtuse
If my foreign accent grew
If I was to stutter
If I was to gnash my lips
If my spit landed on my chin
If my nostrils opened into tunnels
If my snot gurgled with each breath in
If my syllables pushed stink between my teeth
If the spotlight revealed scales upon my cheeks
If you saw me as a monster
If my voice became a roar
Would you listen or ignore?
Photo credit: Ismael Nieto
By Ziad Gadou
Sometimes it’s best to keep it all inside
sometimes I dress you in ribbons and pretend that you care
and sometimes I dare
Sometimes it’s easier done than said
sometimes it’s so much louder in my head
sometimes I love me instead
sometimes I don’t
Sometimes I speak and shed away the shame
sometimes I sell my own pride under a different name
sometimes I retrace the ashes back to the flame
sometimes I forget the targets and lose the aim
Sometimes I’m tired of trying the times I’ve tried to tie the lines in lies for crimes I’ve cried to hide in smiles of thriving piles of miles of tiles
sometimes I believe that all the trees will bend their knees to the willow tree
the will of me that sets me free but who’s to blame for history
this test you see will break the keys
and when we bleed you speak to me – conceal defeat in this disease and tell me please what’s worse to see
sometimes I’d like to sleep without thinking that overdrinking was the price to pay
sometimes I put my hands together begin to pray so that someone in the attic can contain the pain and if someone in the attic can derail the stains maybe someone in the attic can choose to loosen the chains
Because sometimes it seems that all my mind conceives is means to flee
other times it dawns on me that all I needed to see was belief in me
So believe in me
let there be Relief in me
All I ever needed was for me to see
the fear in me
was defeat in me
All I ever needed was for me to see that the dream in me still dares to breathe
All I ever wanted was for you to see
that to heal this fiend
was to hear this fiend
And to peel this fiend
was to feed this fiend
And to feel this fiend
was to seal this fiend
But to deal this fiend
and defeat this fiend?
Just press where it bleeds
and the wounds’ uncleaned
and stomp both feet
on the deeds unredeemed
If you can barely breathe
and you’re cold hearted
carry pieces of deceit in all your necklace lockets
Hang them on your bruises and your translucent loose nooses
next to every loser’s lucid lethargically driven “do this”
So if you can relate
and you’re battling your self-hate
start a letter
and let it read “dear departed,
Tell your hatred
that this conceited young man
is out to get you
and is just getting started”
Photo credit: Marwan Morsy
What should you do when it’s too late?
Should you hold on until love breaks?
Should you hold on until you bend
So far that you can never mend?
What should you say when love leaves home?
Should you wave and say “so long”?
Should you hold on to a tethered love
That has been sinking in a drowning cove?
What should we say when children ask
“What now is gone, could we ever get back?”
Should we smile and say, “c’est la vie,
What is gone was never meant to be.”
What should we write at the end of our book?
Should we pause and take another look
Should we push through, should we try
For the people, who on us rely
Can we see past all the faults?
Could we lock and chain the vaults,
Of a life we swore to spend together
Or, should we quit, would that be better?
Photo credit: Kristina Kiseleva
Don’t Put Out My Flame
Open up your eyes.
Can’t you see?
You elevate the sadness in me,
to bring the balance I need.
And so I weep,
allow me to enhance
this happiness that you seek,
it’s within you,
just let me
do the honours
of bringing it out of you,
because that’s what I am,
the flickering light in your candle.
Photo credit: Matt Fortune
By Ziad Lawen
“Dad said that.
Dad said this.
Dad did this.
Dad did that.
He saw that.
He wrote this.
Dad is dad.
Dad is this.
Dad is right.
Dad is big.
Dad is smart.
Dad is rich.
Dad is that.
Dad speaks that.
Dad spoke this”
married, but alone
deep in the kitchen,
spoke the mother of four.
Photo credit: Tarek Roumie
By Hiba Memon
The languid Hyderabadi summers would beckon us outdoors.
Huddled together we would gaze at the sky-
For the longest hours, retelling old legends,
And epic tales of the better days.
Photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo
By Mira Hamade
I’ve played this in my head quite a few times,
I’d be sitting across the table from you.
In the background there’d be music and rhymes,
We would have a bottle of white wine, or two.
Our glasses would clink and we’d laugh over chimes,
You’d tell me the story behind your wrist tattoo.
I’d tell you why I think this city is a maze worth a dime,
You’d smile because we have kindred world views.
I’ve played this in my head before, you know,
Two wild flowers grown between cement bricks.
Trying to reap from each other what we’ve sown,
Sick of the quick, the flick, the smudged lipstick.
You’d let me in on your life’s cornerstone,
You’d blame your meek honesty on the kick.
Not sure who’d won at this game of wishbone,
We’d both hope there’s no short end to this stick.
I’ve played this in my head some time ago,
The clock would strike midnight theatrically.
We’d laugh at how it’s already tomorrow,
We’d feel caught off guard by reality.
I’d signal the waiter for one more Pinot,
You’d smirk at my coy whimsicality.
We’d wish it would never be time to go,
Yet all yields to ephemerality.
I’ve played this in my head like a record,
We’d be on my couch flipping through vinyl.
We’d walk in alleyways and parks fettered,
Controverting over the noble and the trifle.
I never thought it would end up in a letter,
A shot at a poem without a title.
Poor artistry pouring from a feather,
Merely a poem, more of an idyll.
Photo credit: Kevin Sebastian
The Moon Above Us
By Jean Teodoro
On a clear dark night,
The moon shines so bright
Gazing upon us,
Lighting up the sorrow that never last
Admiring how it bestows,
The beauty of its glow
And the way that it speaks
To a heart that never sleeps
From this life’s lonely crowd
Staring at it as the memories fly
With thoughts so wild that made me smile
This stillness and calm,
My soul’s solace found
Wishing yours could see it too
From the other side, like the way I do.
Photo credit: Felix Russell-Saw
I Have No Name
By Hakim El Haj
But I speak to her image
The idea of her
We speak in hints
The sacred language of the whole wide cosmos
Hints, nothing but signs
When she decides to be silent
She speaks loudly
And I know how to listen
And this is my catastrophe above all.
When she vanishes, willing to disappear
She sweetly drifts into fear
But I am the unknown, and I befriended fear!
I see you in everything, “love” can’t you see?
I just don’t claim it loudly
In this great nothingness
We are the nature of dust
Just feel our deep intensity
You will hear silence
and you will see darkness clear
This is nothing but natural tempestuous love
My little darling
My only dear
Untie your thoughts, they are illusions
Say it to me
And do not fear
I told you, I have no name.
Photo credit: Tarek Roumie
Who am I to Speak
Deeply rooted answers
But who am I, who am I to speak
Segregating slaves from masters
Useless, dilated double
Just to feel it, spitting out
But who am I
Who am I to speak out loud?
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed
I spent a portion of torn out rib-cage trying and trying to shape the outcome
Photo credit: Asha Kumar
Have you ever fallen in love with a shadow
and sought shelter in its purple haze?
It’s like being drunk on a dream
filled with psychedelic colours
that you reach out in tousled sleep
and wrap around to become a rainbow.
You don’t build nests on a shadow tree
and mar its silent harmony.
You perch on it with cocktail of emotions,
Gently, as if the contours would crack
if you put a reckless foot on it.
And when the leaves murmur in the twilight breeze,
You open your wings and whirl languidly.
As darkness cascades from the skies,
You become the body of the shadow
and the shadow becomes your soul.
It’s love –
that wears no rinds of vulgar skin
around lumps of lusting flesh.
It happens only in tinsel dreams
that toxic nights rarely release from its secret vaults
to the accompaniment of a starry ensemble.
Between you and your love,
there is no wall, no words, no monsoon myths.
Only a sacred emptiness that knows
the meaning of being a shadow lover.
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
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Enjoy more of our earlier editions of 2017: