October 2020

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Photo credit: Louise Gibson

New Dawn

By Zubair Hussain

New dawn brings forth-

Palette of sombre shades,

Fleeting days;people scurrying,

Cloaked scythe sweeps across,

Weepin’ wreathed memorials.

Healing mother; pained mankind

Wound clock loses pace,

To ponder or not,

a war silently fought…


Drawing by Khalil Gibran

Majnunat Majnun (Mad about Qays)

By Maya Kaabour

Context: Qays Ibn Al-Mulawwah was an Arab poet from Najd who fell in love with Layla Al-Aamiriya during the 7th century. Her parents prevented their union, and she ended up marrying a rich merchant instead. This broke Qays’ heart and drove him to insanity. He obsessed over Layla so much to the point that he didn’t recognize her when he saw her in real life. She looked nothing like the Layla he built in his mind and loved so dearly. And so they called him Majnun Layla (The Mad Lover of Layla.)

Gift me a love like Majnun’s

I want the whole neighborhood to hear about it

outside mosques after Asr prayer

between the laughter of children playing

breaking the silences around grazing camels

taking over tea-time in every majlis

I want other women burning with envy just describing it

to their men who are also threatened

I want traders to name rare gemstones after his lust

I want the news to bend palm trees into sunset whispers

until the sky flushes into deep pinks and marigold just thinking about it

and then, shy, hides behind a veil of starry night. …


Photo credit: Rami Kanso

عنصرية

بقلم نهيل زاهر

أَنَسيتُمُ القُدسَ الكَسيرَ وَمِثلَهُ
باتَ العِراقُ مُدَمَّرًا يَتَمَرمَرُ

أَنَسيتُمُ كَيفَ التَّعنصُرُ بَينَكُم
أفنى حَضارَةَ أُمَّةٍ تَتَطَوَّرُ

أَعَلِمتُمُ ماذا التَّعَنصُرُ أَوَّلًا؟
أم كالقَطيعِ نَذَرتُمُ أن لا تَروا

ما نَفعُ أنَّكَ لِلقَضِيَّةِ داعِمٌ
وَالكُلُّ مِنكَ تَأَفَّفوا وَتَذَمَّروا

وَنَسيتَ إخوانًا تَفَرَّغَ دَمُّهُم
إثرَ احتِلالٍ في البِقاعِ يُسَيطِرُ

فَذَروا التَّعَنصُرَ في جَميعِ جِهاتِهِ
وَتَوَحَّدوا في وَجهِ مَن يَتَآمَرُ

لِلسُّودِ أَرواحٌ كَما لِسِواهُمُ
أَسنانُ مِشطٍ لَيسَ مِنها قاصِرُ

قَد جَاءَ يَومٌ كَي يُدافَعَ عَنهُمُ
فَلَعَلَّ يَومًا قُدسُنا يَتَحَرَّرُ

ظُلمٌ وَقَتلٌ لا يَكادُ يُفَسَّرُ
والكُلُّ هَبَّ لِما يُقالُ وَيُنشَرُ

خَرَجَ الأُلوفُ مِنَ البُيوتِ لِيَنهَبوا
فَتَدَرَّعوا بِجُيوشِهِم وَتَقَهقَروا

ما ذَنبُ نَفسٍ أن تَموتَ تَطَرُّفًا
لِلكُلِّ عِرقٌ لَيسَ ذاكَ يُغَيَّرُ

تِلكَ القَضِيَّةُ لا سُكاتَ بِمِثلِها
لكِن نَسيتُم مَن لَدَينا يُقهَرُ

العُربُ دَومًا لِلأعاجِمِ نُسخَةٌ
شَرِبوا النَّبيذَ فَقَلَّدوا وَتَخَمَّروا

فَتَناصَروا لمّا تَعَنصَرَ غَيرُهُم
وَلَكَم لَبِثنا في البِلادِ نُعَنصَرُ

لا لَيسَ قَولي أن تَكونوا ضِدَّهُم
لكِنَّ في الإسرافِ ظُلمٌ يُذكَرُ

أَنَسيتُمُ ماذا جَرى بِبِلادِكُم؟
أَنَسيتُمُ قَومًا عُتُوًّا هُجِّروا؟


Photo credit: Motoki Tonn

Where the Wildflowers Don’t Grow

By Fatima Elreda

where the wildflowers grow
is the place where earth exposes her wounds
hope bursts as petals unfold
to pervade the vanishing landscape of memory

where the wildflowers grow
there is almost a word
almost a dream
on the brink of rapture
almost a language
almost a meaning
on the verge of ​everywhere

where the wildflowers grow
time moves quietly
letting things happen
without being seen
soft explosions occur
just when you turn your gaze
crimson poppies dart their heads
and sway to the song of freedom
they open their mouths to ululate
is this the reverberation of joy or grief?

where the wildflowers grow
dispersed across rolling hills
yellow daisies inundate the finitude of Spring
knowing it won’t last is the reason they bloom in the first place

where the wildflowers grow
the ground utters its prayers
un interrupt ed
forming holy syllables
tangling​ words ​
with the burgeoning roots
of ​divine meaning

where the wildflowers grow
the narrative of the land
is a bunch of unbroken myths and legends
metaphor is ornament
meter and rhyme glorification ​
subhanallah subhanallah subhanallah

where the wildflowers grow the shepherd is a poet
abandoning prose
grazing the verses
discussing politics in rhyme
a gypsy weaves garlands into her olive skin
tugs twice at the stems to make sure they don’t unravel
as if to say ​
pitching tents in the soil is useless, the lands must be within you
a mother picks thyme leaves and sumac
this is an act of worship
feeding her children before she breaks her fast
there is always an ​alhamdulillah u​nder her breath

elsewhere​ is a wasteland
pull memory by its decaying roots
pray for rain
a wildflower
will multiply abundantly and magnificently
into a field of brilliant verses


A Bullet Finds a Home in My Head

By Kavyaa Suryaa (Redgrits)

A bullet finds its home in my head

A noose got one around my neck

The rest is unknown

Death is interested in me

It just wants a home

The body is dead but

The head stays hungry

This is a significant imbalance

All that aches has died

I look forward to extrude joy

And now I am completely alive

Uncertainty has dripped

And I cried as the horses died

This has been beyond me

Now that I have died

I am completely alive

A bullet stays safe from harm

within my eye


Photo credit: Shahin Khalaji

The Maleficent

By Olatunde Brain

Between your thighs history resides
tales of how blooming flowers cried
till they wither in pains
and rock melts into sand
and rivers flow backwards

How you have turned every jaw into a grave
I wonder what you were before the heartbreaks
and what happened after that

You have become a broken glass beneath the grass
feeding on our innocence

I wonder what your lips taste like without goodbyes
I wonder what your eyes look like without tears
I wonder what you look like when you smile
I wonder what you are in a sane world

If you ever get your shattered heart back in a whole
love yourself a million times before anyone


Photo credit: Joel Herzog

Watching Gazelles

By Neeraja Kumar

Lithe brown bodies
with the black jagged scar
running down their backs;

four stick legs riding
the highway
with phantom cars
buzzing past them-

never touching
their holy skin
even once.

Zebra crossings lie reverent
at their feet-

an innocent presence,
like angels guarding
the barren roads
as the world hibernates,
restlessly.


Photo credit: Amr ElMasry

What Happened To Us

By Anjali Chhabra

You and I stood
in a big bubble,
surrounded by white
tiles and invisible rubble.

The rubble had pieces
that we had scraped away
from souls tired & hollow
bruised in red, blue, and grey.

Mopped recently,
the gallery looked clean.
Bleached, disinfected
where tears had been.

There was one painting
framed and displayed.
Symbols strewn all over
Heart Diamond Club Spade.

I was standing too close,
drawn to
bright colored brush strokes.

While you stood too far,
identifying
patterns in details bizarre.

We were together,
yet far apart.

As the symbols in that painting
began to scream,
I saw our strings vanish
somewhere in between.


Photo credit: Nathan Dumalo

Have You Healed?

By Shaista Khadim

I pray that you heal
from all the words hurled at you
Words that should have been used to raise you
to help you bloom
and not to bury you
in the pile of the unearned baggage of insecurities and flawed misconceptions

I pray that you heal
from all the things done towards you
Actions that should have been used to lay your solid foundation
and not to grill you against the harsh realities
or to smother your self-esteem into blackened coal

I pray that you heal
from the betrayals and sorrows you had to endure
Betrayals that your kind heart could not have fathomed
Sorrows that ebbed into your pure soul

I pray that you heal
from the mistakes that you made being the childish you
Mistakes leading to unremitted payback
leaving behind scars of shame and bruises of guilt.

I pray with all my heart
For you to stop ruminating over those words, actions, betrayals, sorrows and mistakes
and look beyond all these-
The pains of the past have shaped your future
The unkind words have taught you the meaning of the soft touch
The mishandled heart today cares for others
The sorrowful soul now empathizes with its kind
The errs are now unforgettable experiences
The blackened coal now shines like a diamond

and finally
I pray that for the sake of all the good out there
you see the good in yourself too
and be your own healer and saviour
and bloom wherever you are planted!


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