A Poetry Showcase by Hibah Shabkhez

photo by Zoe (unsplash)

Articulate Sashes

Spurred by a long night's rasping breath
  Window-sashes flutter the call
To arms, songs of glory and death
The world answers. Shadows grow tall
About the unsleeping head that lies
  Untranquil in the mist.

Patches of moon-cut darkness scan
  Its stark eyes for ways to set free
The flightless bird under the ban 
Of ice, the joy its frozen sea
Still holds close. Mosquitoes become flies
  Flies demons, in the mist.

Each dawn's grey-coated light must mourn
  A loss: the beauty of the night
It slew. Each Joy bears an ice-thorn
Thrust by the axed sea which will fight 
Life to lure it back, unless it dies
  Or dissolves in the mist.


I am crawling through the maze in the mud
On three limbs, hauling a square lead orange
Up rocky slopes. It laps up the blood
  And erases the traces of my feet,
  Making its roads enticingly even
    To a child's eager gaze

Others shall come seeking the promised gold
Fruit, round and rolling, ripe for falling, strange
  But true guide in the race to have and hold
The fount of all knowledge that yearns to greet
Them at the heart of the maze. And I, then,
    Shall waken from this daze -

No. I shall tell no truth, scream no warning;
The lead orange with bit and curb has made
  A bridle for me out of the noose. Sing
My praises, it commands, and I do. Staid,
Smiling traitor, I help lure fresh children
    Into the cackling maze.

Il fait beau, n’est-ce pas?

Like the twitching twig of the wildflower
  Floating in seeming stillness on the rim,
I kick at vase-walls beyond my power
To breach or break. I yearn to dim,
  To drown the glory of the day. 

No shutters will fight off its invasions,
  No curtains quite resist that bumptious sun,
That barges like well-meaning relations
Into houses of grief. I run
  To drown the glory of the day

In a feeble smile, as I quite agree
  The weather’s lovely, all the while dreaming
Of the rain, the cool pattering rain, my
One friend in my frantic scheming
  To drown the glory of the day

Karantina Şarkısı

Weave your silk webs in the dusk, Arachne
  As the lemon-trees wed light, you shall see
Your work twirled to ruin on a broom. Glitter
Your hapless malice. It shall not wither
    The creepers of spite.

You instruct the harp-strings of dark with glee
  In their sleep-piercing musics. But in three
Strokes of dead bark I am avenged. Bitter,
Welcome foe, you could end this, but dither;
    In each watchful night 

You furl your darting sting, for we both flee
  The same silence, the same beckoning sea
Of death. Spite gives us something to live for,
To plug in its gaping maw, to abhor
    With our ire-borne might.

Peace Talks With The First Demon

I miss this face of mine I never knew,
  That never once aged or grew
Lined with the ugliness of exhaustion.

The one that laughs out of these old photos
  Quite happy and almost pretty,
In which love taken for granted still glows.

Turn the page, and the evil shade, new-made
  Of my growing not-enoughness
Sharpens its eternally marring blade,

And in the crookening of smiles once full
  Signals its lifelong conquest. Rest
In peace, face I never knew. I will pull

Your nameless traces from these leaves and pour
  Into rigged memories sour
With falsehoods and hindsight the faux embers

Of a bitterness that never was there.
  For I could not know you then, though
    I miss you now.

Story Without A Name

Sliced from our story like the rind from cheese
  We wrinkle to shadows, skulking torments
For this stained conscience straining to appease
  Us, first-tellers of the story she inks.

Severed from the tale we brought with such hope
  To her untried pen that thirsted for truth,
We stand fuming above pronouns that soap
  Off our grime, to please the East and the West. 

They ravaged her head and heart with their wars;
  We knew her diced, divided, doubting,
This pen-holder, burning in ash that mars
  Oftener than it makes: but knew her true.

We never dreamt she would erase our names,
  This creature who holds our pen. All to stop
Her many Worlds from playing their old games
  Of 'The Miller, His Son, and Their Donkey'.

Your Best Work

  In bulb-light, each solid opaque middle
Has shadow-selves that you can only see 
With both eyes. One shut, light will not fiddle
  With the sharp lines to suit its own fancy.

  Like the poet-turned-editor writing 
‘Send us your best work’ when she too must know
The best is the despised, the scrunched-up thing
  Cast aside for saplings harder to grow;

Like the four deserted stove-top burners
  Lying forlorn beside the chosen one:
Shadows vanish for resolute churners
  With heads fixed until the butter is done.

Does the old law of the light distinguish
  The one-eyed poet from the wallower?
Can the sun-squinting, the scribbled anguish
  Serve to ransom a shadow-swallower?

Bio: 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 Fevers of the Mind, Black Bough, Zin Daily, London Grip, The Madrigal, Acropolis Journal, Lucent Dreaming, 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

By davidlonan1

David writes poetry, short stories, and writings that'll make you think or laugh, provoking you to examine images in your mind. To submit poetry, photography, art, please send to feversofthemind@gmail.com. Twitter: @davidLOnan1 + @feversof Facebook: DavidLONan1

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