Hibah Shabkhez: Chew Toffees and Punctured Abysses
Source: Unsplash, downloaded https://unsplash.com/photos/5CbWrvHpwJo (8.1.2021.)
Chew toffees inside packets of éclairs
Sea-salt in firni, honey on fried eggs,
Always and forever out of place.
If all this were smoothed away, forgotten
Our hearts would find new dreams to break over
Trapped in untrusted new joys verboten
By fear of being caught in imposture.
Winter's cold water, hot in summer’s glares
Bunties to be diced by zero's dregs,
Always and forever out of grace.
If all this were lost to time and decay
Our forlorn legacy earth-homed would be
In one greened pebble on a beach of grey,
Or a gull’s cry by a murmuring sea.
Distrust The Heated Frazzle Of Time
Tapping fingers transform shore-lapping waves
Into a flat Times o-c-e-a-n
Of unmurmuring colouring-book blue
How do you write thinning voices that shove
Lifetimes of labour into shrugs, hurried,
Resigned; then hasten to give thanks again?
How do you transcribe residues of love
And worry in old soft brown eyes buried
Deep in sheer loneliness and fear and pain?
If writing is all that history saves
Of us as it did of older worlds, then
They will be first-finders of life's truths too,
Those for whom ours will be the good old days,
Treasured as only past things are that glaze
The torn-up heart of a Land of the Lost
Glimpses Of The Goldfish Bard’s Muse
From a life of humdrum grins and grimaces
Spring myriad jingling Songs of Nothing
Forth on sunsets of an odd loveliness,
Orange pink and blue, with glass-stretched faces.
Under the moon wreathed by drapes in a sling
I gurgle songs. A shallow, garbled mess:
Vain flutterings of a comfort-shelled soul
Trifling verses of yakhni-steeped pulao;
Not grand feeling born of hard-won battle,
Swooping emotion of crises borne whole,
But the twitterings of the cage-born. How
Does staircase-wit falsely turned sharp settle
Autumn leaves dead from being unwatered
That seem by deeper thirsts parched and slaughtered?
Puncturing The Abyss
It had been a long year.
The gulf-shards gnawed brainbones to drain
Life from this heart born drear
The blood of bricks seeping from its ceiling
Seemed flicked-up ketchup to its forlorn guile;
Cracking like stoned glass, it thudded, keening
For mercy, mercy, mercy, all the while;
Trimmed woe off its rims as a pollen bee
Trawling weariness like a concierge’s key.
It had been a long year,
When luck helmed spring-carpets again
Through the abyss of fear.
Time blurring blotting bleaking out brainedges,
Put into twilight’s upcoming locker
The cursed yowls of reborn grundy-hedges
Of childhood zombied to grades and soccer;
Snipped out hope, its rocket gibbering
Sputtering its last sparks in a shoestring.
It had been a long year.
Then your half-smile augured fresh rain
Slaking drought with a tear.
Long ago, I vowed to unstitch world-clichés;
Now I know them for a comic ruse.
Cars burn, fists fly, and dustbins lie upturned
In both my worlds, East and West of the line
No one quite knows how to draw or define,
Except perhaps by the taste of chip-sauce.
It’s all mayo versus ketchup: we toss
In the same strange things to be burned
I look past the dessert-cream moon and pray.
They growl: ‘So words can stop this if you choose?’
But I am not praying for it to stop;
I am not even praying for the dead.
There’s a more selfish prayer to be said.
Let our screams not turn to the quiet thud
Of bodies like oranges rolled into mud
Bruising but refusing to pop.
Let the wasp-like hum of whooshing lead stay
Tied to the scattered pixels of the news.
About the Author: Hibah Shabkhez is a writer of the half-yo literary tradition, an erratic language-learning enthusiast, and a happily eccentric blogger from Lahore, Pakistan. Her work has previously appeared in Bandit Fiction, Shot Glass Journal, Across The Margin, Panoplyzine, Feral, Literati Magazine, and a number of other literary magazines. Studying life, languages and literature from a comparative perspective across linguistic and cultural boundaries holds a particular fascination for her. Linktree: https://linktr.ee/HibahShabkhez.