Edition XXIX

May 2018

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Perfection - by Idris Mears (Photo by Ayah Ballout)Photo credit: Ayah Ballout


By Idris Mears

Just as plants need the right
soil and water and light
and the right testing
of frost and drought
the age of the perfectly nurtured
body in the perfect garden
is thirty-three
when the glow of youth
meets settled maturity
and until we reach the age of forty
we don’t have the fortitude to be
perfectly at ease with ourselves
and white hairs at sixty give us
dignity without airs
and if not perfectly stupid
we start to be a little bit wise
and at eighty all that is forgivable is forgiven
and the age of the perfected soul
is whatever time it takes
to face death with no regrets

Dear Victim - by Haya Venna 2 (Photo by Natheer Halawani)Photo credit: Natheer Halawani

Dear Victim

By Haya Venna 2

Write me like your favourite song.
Play my tunes deep within,
so that when her mocking breath fans above your ears,
and your disheartened eyes look away,
you’d always remember your kin.

When she scars your right cheek,
violently, screaming insults,
I’ll be the whisper of the wind.
For I will be calming you down,
with sweet nothings.

Immerse me into the pot of paint,
red, purple, green or blue,
anything that matches her and you.
Because if I leave looking like a blank canvas,
I’ll know that you will no longer ache.

I am your guardian angel,
blessed with a subject so pleasant.
We’ll make it through the darkest of times,
as long as you remember my presence,
during the highlights of your life.

TempleLilies_AlannahBowesPhoto credit: Alannah Bowes

Temple Lilies in Kochi

By Christopher Li

“It’s beautiful this place, the way things
grow from the muck,” is exactly what they would have said,
if no one had ever seen the underside of lily pads.
The light barely makes it way down to the sandy silt below.
The flowers and pads, for all their beauty,
are a tangled mess, gnarled and clawing at each other
contesting the light.

You would say this was the most beautiful place,
the lake afoot an old stone wall,
the lilies probably just as old as the stones themselves.
My, how they have grown from such a stagnant thing,
emerald green pads and flowers of weightless pink.
The visitors always stop briefly, the wise ones at least,
to be with the beauty. It almost feels like an old painting
I would have seen in a book somewhere.

There’s a story of a boy visiting this lake. The lily pads
nearly big enough to hold his weight. How he admired them,
flowers, each so large and delighted with themselves. But also quiet
and happy to be amongst their confidantes.
He felt like he could speak to them. 
His puerile smile, still heavy with young cheeks,
was like the flowers, and he the lake.

The story goes that on one of his many days on the shore
he tried to step on to the lilies. He figured the immense pad
could bare him. He stepped from one pad to the other
before the lilies enveloped him.
He fell beneath their green tops, the water pulled at his waist,
and filled his pockets with sand, the roots of the lilies were like anchors,
he was pulled down until the very things he loved blocked the sun entirely from him.
Oh how onerous it must have been
to learn of the woe beneath the green.

It is said he realized what it meant to be a lily that day
and that the boy himself became one.

My Love Cannot Be Simple - By Shizah Kashif (Photo by Clem Onojeghuo) (1)Photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo 

My Love Cannot be Simple

By Shizah Kashif

I write
A little sometimes
A lot other times
Somewhere in the middle
Every once in a while, I write
I remember loving words
In the phonic books they had us read in kindergarten
I remember loving words
In the subtitles that played with the movies I grew up watching
I remember loving words
In the books that break my shelves with their weight now
And the books that flood out onto my bedroom floor
After a splurge at Borders or a thrift book shop or even the book corner at Sikka
When my parents would beg me to please
Make some space
Words don’t need space
They make space
They make space
They make spaces widen
And they furnish them, bursts of tales on my walls,
An unrequited love here, a saga of loss there,
The crest of an empire on one’s pages, the trough of humanity elsewhere
they are the accessory to life and I thrive off them
words are limitless

and I remember always loving them

but now
I’m a little grown
Not old enough to change the world
Like the aunties back home tell me
But old enough to know why my identity
Is so heavy
And why my love can not be simple

You see
I am a brown girl
I grew up in the breezes that rustled the mulberries
In the nerve of my country, my capital, my home
I lounged underneath star-specked, clear, wide skies that
Were beautiful to me
But had so many times been the last thing my countrymen
Throughout the land of the Indus,
would get to see when they were called onto by their Lord
Because some men decided
To spray my country’s fields of cotton
With the pesticide of hate
Of division, of death
Of our leaders fighting amongst themselves
Of women barricaded into their bodies in the peaks in the north
Of young boys, who were supposed to love their home,
Picked apart till they learnt to spite it
With AK 47s

I saw the rice harvests die
More times than I can count
I saw locusts escape the carnage of the
Ruin of our fields
With a plaster of innocence on their face
Held in place
Secured in place
By the invisible, intangible commandment
That the rice will grow back in time
Like they always do
When brown backed men and women with cotton parandas braided into their hair
Will descend upon their family grounds
And sow the seeds again
Until then
The locusts could feed on us

You see I grew up inside a country
My country
That woke up each morning
And couldn’t breathe in the freedom it fought for
It bled for
For 250 years under the boot of men who stole our identities
Shipped them across the Indian ocean
And profited off them when we fell into famines
Of having something, anything, to call our own
Because once we’d gotten our history handed back to us
After toil, after death, after mothers drowned their infants in wells
After daughters strangled themselves with their own brown hands
When the enemy knocked down the locks on their doors under the crescent moon
The colonisers said
You will regret this
We will make you regret this

I grew up
In love with my country
And its ten thousand political fallouts
And failed alliances
And military coups
And the mess it had made of itself in the 70 years from its rebirth
But it was only once I soared up and out and landed here
Did I realise
That people would hate me for this love in my heart

You see they say I’m too young to speak like this
I’m not just young, I am a girl, they keep telling me
They tell me my strength is empowering but it is also
But tell me this,
How can I braid back the ropes around my neck
Refasten the chains around the ankles
When that is exactly what my mother’s mother’s mother
And my father’s father’s father
Prayed and traded their lives
For me to never see
Why do you ask this of me
Why do you want me to be
Exactly what our skin defied to leave
Behind in the gallows of our history
How do I stop
This love from pouring out of my sweat glands
And onto my tan, tan skin
The same glands that are right now
Fueling the growth of my people
Along the Indus
Along the stretch of the Thar
Along the apricot farms on the hillsides
Along the army barricades
where my brothers
Are taught to sacrifice for love
How do I stop this love
When my tongue is dripping in the blood-soaked brown soil my grandfather’s feet pounded on
When the only words he knew were
Freedom is waiting for me
It is waiting for me
It is waiting for US
We are free

So when I see someone with a skin on the lighter side of the scale
Tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about
I’ll ask them
To open a history book tonight
That wasn’t published by their own country
I’ll tell them
That from where I come from,
One person’s wounds is everyone’s wounds
And that we might be a flawed people
Nestled in the comfort of being 220 million strong but divided in the headlines of your newspapers
But that when we love,

We burn down empires

We burn down darkness

We burn

And we become the brightest, warmest fire you’ll ever see

My love cannot be simple
For anything
And I like that
And I will go and write that down
On my wrists tonight
The girl fervidly reading phonics in kindergarten
Still smiling somewhere in my skin.

Crash In Silence - By Mazel Pinto (Photo by Cole Hutson) (1)Photo credit: Cole Hutson

Crash in Silence

By Mazel Pinto

There’s a rhythm
a melancholic tune of serenity
of the waves that crash against the shore
A calling that causes you
to cease every reasoning
and breathe in the vastness before you
Doesn’t matter if the sun sets
and you’re still harmonizing
to the cruising currents
It’s okay to let go this once
to hear and see these waves crash
against each other
To wonder if
just like you,
maybe the sea is at war with itself

Rhyme - by Mashaal Effendi (Photo by Odette Scapin)Photo credit: Odette Scapin


By Mashaal Effendi

Gerunds perfunctory lends itself ears
Thrown off by the sea of eyes
That never disappear
Belied and benign, there is no dime
To a steep vessel that doth sooth
A manifest incline
That lends itself ears
To an old man’s rhyme

My Baby - By Mariyam Thahira (Photo by Annie Spratt)Photo credit: Annie Spratt

My Baby

By Mariyam Thahira

I nurse every emotion
that I get to experience
within the crevice
of my broken being

I cover it within layers of darkness
protect it from this wretched universe
nourish it with all my benevolence
and punish it with my insecurities

But I always agree
to carry the burden
it sometimes proves to be
without a word of complaint
on my slumped shoulders
and creased forehead
until it is ready

Ready to face its own future
in the form of poetry
that I then entrust pieces of paper
to manage with mercy

A Better Me - By Johina Maria John (Photo by Daniel Burka) (1)Photo credit: Daniel Burka 

A Better Me

By Johina Maria John

Climbing up the castle of words
one step at a time,
in the spire,
I find wrapped in red
a feeling,
raw and genuine.
I took it to heart
and gave it me
and there and then,
it sprouted
hope and faith.
And I lived,
a better me.

Resuscitated - By Averine Simethy (Photo by Annie Spratt) (1)Photo credit: Annie Spratt


By Averine Simethy

Like an essence that can’t be contained
you drifted past me
luring me,
tempting me to drift away with you.
You shed your skin like a cloak
and hung me up like one
bound, smothered and broken.
I cried for mercy
the mercy not known to the likes of him.
To the filth that tries to consume me:
You may succeed in having my body
but only death shall have my soul.

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 poetry@dubaipoetics.com

Join us again in our Poetryhood!!

Enjoy more poems from our earlier editions in 2018:

Edition XXV
Edition XXVI
Edition XXVII
Edition XXVIII