Fleeced With Moss: Hibah Shabkhez

March 25, 2019


Hibah Shabkhez is a writer of the half-yo literary tradition, an erratic language-learning enthusiast, a teacher of French as a foreign language and a happily eccentric blogger from Lahore, Pakistan.


Hibah says: "Studying life, languages and literature from a comparative perspective across linguistic and cultural boundaries holds a particular fascination for me."





A bleak pencil garden’s grey smiling face
Bled in with a stencil’s fey laughing grace
Will make a home of a stray unframed place
Drape it all in familiar home-spun lace

Into the slate dish
Thrust each quotidian wraith
Forced into English

These skins of slaughtered goats demand a voice
For this shadow of their souls beg a choice
But they shall natheless be dragged in, squealing
From blows of my pencil ashen, reeling

Betrayed heirlooms, fade
In this bleak English corset
Pose as rich warm jade




Anon we perched upon the roof-top pump's pipe
I lagging last, cringing from the sun's knife,
Leeching shadows from the whispering trees
Wilting the queens of the night to snow grease

I am the first-croaked call of the ravens
Who swore never to return to their glens
Thine errand unfulfilled; but I, I made
Another promise to the fleeing shade

In darkness wore they contours of eagles;
Darkling eyes, wings of kites, curved falcon beaks
Brooding silhouettes from high mountain peaks

They speak, erupted shadows, glump soot-freaks;
And I echo through the defrosting skulls
Of mountain peaks the sun to roof-tops dulls




He strides over land like a colossus
As Prosper glides into the sea
Could he see which way to go
O my daughter,
If you did not twinkle so?
She scurries over land, a singed Narcissus
Cringing from water she dare not see

O paper-vessel of my hopes and dreams
Sail forth, take my gaudy ink screams
Draped in a lavish lie
Writ on a blacklist:
My name that cannot die
For it never lived, until the day
This flat gold ring cracked me to clay



The petrichor rising upon the playful breeze
Unsteadies the new doctor’s taut-veined hand,
Scattering us beyond the shadows of trees
A blaze of colour in a starved starched land

Upon us the wandering eyes snap into focus
Over red, black, purple the wasted hands hover;
Then fasten upon one, the warmest green
‘Bunties!’ her glee-made-sound is hocus-pocus
To the fluttering, scuttling, pebble-struck plover
Darting about her in glossy cotton sateen

Dancing widdershins, she smears her lips strong
Green as a pea, hums: ‘Bright as silver, good as gold
Everyone can see’ And we, dead colour made quick
See, in the fretful quavering of the old school-song
A bunty-wrapper snapped on like a ball-mask of old
Ladybird races, dandelions, a finger-snuffed wick

A laugh is liberated by a memory of an illusion
The bliss of chocolate melts into the tongue
As the frail shell cracks, crumbles, unstrung
By an old taunt barging into the glad profusion.




Look! Ink and Life mesh, blur, forge silken slats
High-lit jackets from our Halloween hats.

My ink-world is burning, slowly turning
To familiar ash; blossoming tangerine
Over blazing tin crates, metal churning
Soggy silver butter to burst on screen.

This smoke I know well;
In our real-world gardens, we
Grow this sand of hell.




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