Poetry: Water Under The Bridge by Hibah Shabkhez

Water Under The Bridge

I looked away, and Time did steal
     A sliver of my home;
Licked it off like a mud-sauce streak
     From a sea’s drying foam.

‘You owe me water,’ said the dam
     To the river. ‘My dish
Body cracks, dries to a mud-jam
     Of dead and dying fish.’

‘Thief,’ said the river, ‘you have leached
     And stagnated eaux
Destined for my rock-bones, now bleached
     And withered in their woe.’

Time flowed past us, its zeal unworn
     And scooped up homes amain;
Scattered its birds like popping corn 
     On the floor of my brain.


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

Come One, Come All by Hibah Shabkhez

Come One, Come All

COME ONE, COME ALL

To Señor Örümcek’s Human Circus

Greatest Show On Earth!

Wholesome Fun for the Whole Family!

Sunday, September 5

“It’s silly to be afraid of an insect,” said a deep man-voice from behind the door.

“Ooh, a newbie!” said Hava Fare to his brother, craning his neck to see over the rows in front. “I love it when they have a newbie.”

“You don’t understand!” said Hava and Atesh together, at the same time as a woman-voice behind the door.

 “She always says that,” scowled Toprak Fare, sticking her ear-buds back in.

“I’m going in now,” said the man-voice.

“Well, I think it’s cruel to torment the poor creatures,” said Su Fare.

“Don’t cry, Su. They’d kill us in a cat’s pounce if they could,” said Hava. “Here, have some water.” He put his arm around her but kept his eyes on the door.

 “I’d like to kill you myself,” said Toprak with a lugubrious sigh. “Why do you guys always drag me here?”

“Shush! They’re getting to the good part!” said Atesh.

The door opened. A man-foot the size of three mice appeared, followed by a man-hand at handle-height holding a man-skull-bottle. The gigantic, six-jointed leg of Señor Örümcek shot out from behind the curtain, and the man-hand and man-foot jerked back with an anguished scream. The man-skull-bottle rolled harmlessly to the floor.

“Ah, the bolting act,” said Hava, “Classic. You think he’ll be back soon?”

 “Great balls of fire!” howled the man-voice outside. “What IS that thing?”

“It’s a spider,” said the woman-voice. “A rather big spider.”

“She said that last week too,” said Toprak.

“No, last week she said it was quite a large spider,” said Su. “They’re terrified, poor creatures.”

“You know, my friend Gök says the woman’s in league with Örümcek,” said Toprak. “That’s why he never eats her, and why the men always come here on Sunday evenings.”

“That’s just roach propaganda,” said Atesh. “They’ve hated Señor Örümcek ever since he banished them to the kitchens. What’s taking so long? They’re usually back by now.”

“Looks like Señor Örümcek really took the wind out of his sails,” chuckled Hava.

“But he has to come back! It’s no fun otherwise.”

“He’ll live, though,” said Su. “I do hope he doesn’t come back.”

“Listen!” said Toprak sharply. “What’s that?”

“Hammers!” cried Hava. “He’s nailing us in!”

 “He won’t be eaten,” said Su. “That’s nice.”

“No, it is NOT nice! What do you think Örümcek is going to eat now?”

“Oh, no, Señor Örümcek would never –”

The fang hit Atesh first, cutting him off mid-sentence, then Su, then Hava. Toprak Fare could never afterwards explain how she had been flung aside, stunned, and rolled under the circus poster that had fallen off the door, how she had survived and dug her way out of the attic. The new mice who moved into the house simply did not believe her incoherent gibbering, and Örümcek reopened his circus the following Sunday to a full house.

Author 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

Poetry Showcase from Hibah Shabkhez

Know, Please, That We Know Nothing

Before your just-shrouded head, in the first
Numb hours, the brain's pencils are already
Out, sharpened and scribbling. Straining to burst,
   Finding itself sewn into words instead,
Her heart, which would fain break in peace and thirst
Until obliterated, curses them
   For doing so.

Her mouth twists and barks, drawn by self-contempt  
   Into a crooked sneer. Self-written all, 
To our own secret shame, we must attempt
As we watch, to not understand this dread
We know, to not see why she is laughing
And bidding your still, shrouded head
   Turn and laugh too.

  Reason Enough

Why is happiness not reason enough
For the doing of things? Because the tough,
The dreary, the harder-to-do we deem
More worth our while. Because we cannot seem
To be made of quickly soaked, shallow stuff

Like tissue paper. So we must be gruff,
Leatherly, even to our own hearts, rough
And resolute in refusing to scream
   Why is happiness not ... ?

In ponderous usefulness without fluff
Or leavening, this sad desire to cuff
Yourself to suffering, endure your dream
Being ground to flour by the cruel stream  
Of twisted logic that calls it a bluff
   Why is happiness not ... ?

Zany Zealots Losing Zest

We sing of a world drowned in its own ice
We paint it aflame in unchecked desire;
We scream out our pires cauchemars, and
    They shrug. 

How do we give them the dream-warning. then?
How do we ring for them the death-knell when
We scream out our pires cauchemars, and
     They shrug?

Would a thousand thousand fell dreams suffice
To draw one gaze to our raging fire?
We scream out our pires cauchemars, and
    They shrug.



A Poetry Showcase by Hibah Shabkhez

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

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.


Dissertation

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














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