Poetry: Hard Baked Truths by Khadeja Ali

Hard Baked Truths

To open myself and set words free;
to reveal my truth, beauty, and love 
is to pull apart freshly baked bread
and see the steam billow out like smoke.
The hard crust surrounding hot softness
is strong and vulnerable like me.

Take a bite out of my fresh, hot bread.
You are here with me. A part of me.
We two fools are so vulnerable.
We openly hide from the hard truth,
To surround ourselves with a softness.
It tastes beautiful; our love is strong.

Then you pull me so crudely apart!
Open me and fill me with hot smoke--
hard truths about myself--surrounding
yourself with hard crust while you get to 
be set free from my beautiful love?
Your strong words leave me vulnerable.

Earth’s thin crust restrains billowing heat.
Vulnerable humans are not strong.
We can barely break the ground apart.
The rock, though, cannot see its beauty,
while we can make words to speak our love,
truth, hardships, and manipulations.

Hot words can burn the strongest to ash
turning truly soft ones like myself 
into baked, then burned, then smoked bodies…
Is there beauty in surrounding pain
which can transform my fresh skin
into a hardening, crumbling crust?

Opening fresh love towards myself,
I now live to bake our bread daily.
Freedom comes with soft dough and strong crusts.
Hot steam billows out of the oven.
There are no truthful words to describe
tasting the bread that I made myself.

I bake hot and fresh words: “I love you.”
You might pull apart my soft bread, true.
I want that vulnerable beauty.

bio: "Khadeja Ali is a poet and visual artist from Massachusetts who uses her art to explore themes of the heart and the mind. She has a degree in Art History as well as a Master's in Intercultural Relations--both of which inform her life experience and her art. Khadeja is a native of Mauritius with ancestry from Eastern Europe. You can find her on twitter as @khadejalidraw."

Poetry: The Villanelle by Khadeja Ali

The Villanelle

If I could address myself, old or young,
wrecked or anchored, Bay or Sea.
I would let the song roll itself off my tongue.

All signs point to memories that clung.
The earbuds in the car meant my safety.
If I could address myself, old or young.

I’d sing myself Hair—I loved the way the songs stung,
and the song stung from within, where it must always be.
I would let the song roll itself off my tongue.

I could let a Disney ballad fill up one lung;
For respite, the other needs a soulful Wa’el Kfoury*.
If I could address myself, old or young.

Then it’s a classic filmi** hit I’d need sung,
tying myself to ancestral steps of bravery.
I would let the song roll itself off my tongue.

This stubborn truth has forever rung:
Music is wild, unfettered, flourishing in me.
If I could address myself, old or young,
I would let the song roll itself off my tongue.


--
*popular Arabic language singer from Lebanon
**of an Indian film, from India

Bio: "Khadeja Ali is a poet and visual artist from Massachusetts who uses her art to explore themes of the heart and the mind. She has a degree in Art History as well as a Master's in Intercultural Relations--both of which inform her life experience and her art. Khadeja is a native of Mauritius with ancestry from Eastern Europe. You can find her on twitter as @khadejalidraw."

Edge of Concern by Khadeja Ali

Edge of Concern

Body and mind can’t live in fear,
flying birds know to rest.
Yet you will always persevere
with your pain in my chest.
You are indeed my heart’s true guest
even when we all fret,
you have torn down your fam’ly crest
and no one can forget.

More than thirty needles have pricked
through from your eyes to mine.
More than thirty times I am tricked
and left to be “just fine.”
If you perceive my voice to whine
you’ll cover up your ears,
though I have used my body fine --
to keep you from your tears.

All feathers are plucked from my skin
to comfort your sweet head;
all of my patience has worn thin
and now I’m full with dread.
No more will I bake daily bread
filling you up with pride,
I will make my own life instead
and leave you here to hide.

I will journey out to the sands
to make the dunes my grave,
and with your soft piano hands
you’ll have yourself to save.


Bio: "Khadeja Ali is a poet and visual artist from Massachusetts who uses her art to explore themes of the heart and the mind. She has a degree in Art History as well as a Master's in Intercultural Relations--both of which inform her life experience and her art. Khadeja is a native of Mauritius with ancestry from Eastern Europe. You can find her on twitter as @khadejalidraw."

2 poems from Khadeja Ali

                           Comparison

Screeches are launched from the mouth of an unpreferred daughter.
Her own son is climbing, tumbling, rolling onto the prayer rug
"AGH! STOP!" she yells. She's trying, struggling, in her prayers
but her praying is repetition.
Repetition of pitches hit, vibrating in the air for three decades
generational cries, passing on.
Relatives silently reacted: lips bitten, eyes rolled, heads shaken
"Children are to be loved," my aunt commanded from atop her motherly mountain,
and the screaming mother is judged.
"You should know that, since you're going to start having your own,"
with her jewel eyes fixated on my face, my breasts, then my belly.
Well-meant words, softly aimed,
but it doesn’t matter. Each letter of her words scrapes harshly against my soul's skin.
I, too, felt like crying out. Stop!


                          September 2020: Its Conquering
In September of 2020,
my body softened and rounded all its corners without asking me first.
Control was out of order in its own order:
retching mornings met tears of shame in the afternoons--
the evenings ended the routine with frozen numbness and a rushing heart.
My sleep was a delusion. There was no rest.
I felt that I would disappear as It would grow,
and my conscious so certainly knew in its heightened, vigilant imagination
that the It would tragically pull my insides out of me soon
like a magician's string of sickening handkerchiefs. 
I was a sleeve on someone else's arm.

It inherited my genetically-obtained force;
twin horns of a ram dislodged all of my attempts at protection.
I had let pain rip in and out of me at the doctor’s office for nothing.
Edibles for the bearing of blackening douleur
might as well have been exotic spring water poured down a sink.
99.9% efficacy, but I was 0.01% lucky.

The clock's hand had a diamond-edged dagger in it,
slashing with each slap as it moved across the face.
In tiny increments, pieces of my very self were marbles
swirling, draining,
rolling down,
sucked down into a circle like some kind of joke.
I made my choice to choose myself over It.

A series of rods, one larger than the next.
A plastic elephant's trunk would inhale It out with suction I’d never feel
and It would die before the bagging.
It was in one of the papers I signed. I would wake in a white light.

I stood at the edge of a ravine when it was over. I looked down,
I saw new messages in my inbox. New documents.
The IUD was dislodged, hanging at the cervix. That I knew.
And then came the harrowing, lung-pricking description of--It.

It had: 
ten fingers, developed organs.
I have: a concrete body, each cell alive and dying in their natural processes.
The dagger, the elephant's trumpet, the drain,
not one could deny. I did it. All were witness.
The devilish It had:
ten fingers, developed organs?
Don’t  forget:
So have I.

Bio: "Khadeja Ali is a poet and visual artist from Massachusetts who uses her art to explore themes of the heart and the mind. She has a degree in Art History as well as a Master's in Intercultural Relations--both of which inform her life experience and her art. Khadeja is a native of Mauritius with ancestry from Eastern Europe. You can find her on twitter as @khadejalidraw."

Life-themed poetry by Khadeja Ali

Poems written in reflection of life’s power; in awe of beauty and in sadness of it. Reminiscing about times that never existed yet are so alive. Feeling disconnected from life that was, indeed, very real. These are intimate, meditative works that are meant to wash over you the way life does when you are at its center and have no control over it. --Khadeja

 transformation meditation

air skimming across the dew
launches it off the blade of grass 
it’s new role: ground’s fuel.
a dew’s descent is a millisecond of velocity dropping,
unheard whistling to the tiniest of ears
yet a vibration well felt.

---
an observation

it may be beautiful, but it may not be yours.
this is an observation of mothers
by one who could be one
but made the other choice.

to watch emergent life
is to watch a known, and yet unknown.
it is watching the new life pushing out an orifice,
or cracking a shell, 
even growing out of soil.
power, awe, and disgust all spark at once.

so dangerous is the forcing of birth,
so oblivious are we to the workings,
that our breaths rebel against our lungs.
our minds rebel against ourselves.
and all the while,
people are still doing it—giving birth. creation is divine.

the child is always being waited for.
outside our Mother tends, 
if not the sweaty, warmth of humanity
in one of the other forms:
the Earth, the egg-warmer, the web-weaver, or the Queen,
so many forms…
all of them the same. protecting by fighting until the bursting
against nature, time, enemies, and luck.
perilous is this endless battle,
helpless are we to stop it.
hopeless because we don’t want to.
we can only learn how to despair accordingly.
learn, learn, learn. while teaching! and reveling!
what a mess!
and then we cannot deny,
there is nothing more beautiful than being alive
to watch a seed turned to stalk.

a moment--an appreciation of the mother’s choice.
the choice of motherhood itself,
the choice of glorious pain, screeching music, 
thankless accomplishment, 
sunshine with moonlight,
and underneath it all – a pull that never stops.
I sit here, a loving stone, in place.
       
             
                                           
Bio: "Khadeja Ali is a poet and visual artist from Massachusetts who uses her art to explore themes of the heart and the mind. She has a degree in Art History as well as a Master's in Intercultural Relations--both of which inform her life experience and her art. Khadeja is a native of Mauritius with ancestry from Eastern Europe. You can find her on twitter as @khadejalidraw."

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