VERSE | REFLECTION

Do you sometimes ask yourself if you’re alright
Do the burdens of life come down hard on your joy
Do all the schemes of gladness that you deploy
Seem bound to falter, sink with the sun
Making you despair, come undone
Do you sometimes wonder if you’ll ever be alright?

Do you sometimes worry if you’re alright
If you’re treating your body like it was meant
More like a temple, less like a tent
Does it respond with resilience and grace
Does it show up as a gentle glow on your face
Can you smile and say that you’re alright?

Do you sometimes brood about being alright
If the crimson, beating, streaming path
From your analysing mind to your ruminating heart
Is clear and bright and lit up with calm
Where thoughts and memories are like comforting balm
Do you feel your spirit lift because you’re alright?

Do you feel your atoms dance, your heart sing
Then soften to a gentle, constant hum again
Do you feel your blood flow in passionate storms
And then settle into tranquil crests and falls
Do you sometimes in your moments of quiet
Feel a gratitude because you’re alright?

I hope that when you lie in your bed at night
On the cusp of sleep, with your guard down
When your truth shines unfettered, unbound
That with your eyes closed you can look within
And hear it in every fibre of your being
I’m alive, I’m still here, I am alright.

VERSE | REAWAKENING

I remember, I remember 
A little girl I used to know
She was bright-eyed and joyful
Her spirit had a special glow

She was filled with compassion
And a courage that fairly roared
The world was her oyster
She had found her wings and soared

But then I lost sight of that
Special one when I left home
To let marriage settle me
In its no nonsense folds

Time went on as it does
And more and more I found myself
Thinking of the little girl
A tender nostalgia for a friend

I looked for her on winter trips
That I occasionally made back home
But she seemed to have melted
Into the fading mists of dawn

When life came full cycle and
My youngest daughter was wed
I came back to write and roost
To my childhood homestead

There one balmy summer day
As I began to write
The story that had been hiding away
In the tumultuousness of life

The little girl peeked out at me
Not from behind the door
But from the page that I was writing on
From the ink on it that flowed

That day I met her again
Her happy laugh warmed my heart
Even as she flitted in and out
Of my vision at the start

But then she gently held my hand
As I wrote page after page
And I remembered, I remembered
As I found myself again.

VERSE | TEA FOR TWO

It was two for tea and tea for two
Both meeting after a decade or two
Friends of old, kins of the heart
Separated by time and circumstance
Chatter and laugh over tea for two

Tea for two and two for tea
Neighbours for a year, kindred souls for twenty-three
They’d seen each other through thick and thin
Loving Kintsugi* mending walls where they’d grown thin
Catch up over two for tea

It was two for tea and tea for two
From working together their friendship grew
They had rejoiced in one another’s highs
And had held each other’s hands in trying times
Rendezvous over tea for two

Tea for two and two for tea
The sister and the brother sat quietly
The coolness of bruised hearts lay around
The air was rent with empty sounds
As they tried to build bridges over two for tea

It is usually two for tea and tea for two
That brings hearts together, both the sunny and the blue
Loving ones forge more joyful memories
Aching ones for a while find some peace
When they come together over tea for two.
* Kintsugi: The Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art.
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VERSE | MELANCHOLIA

When evening falls and once again 
Melancholia sets in
Tinctures and shadows of times gone by
Come bleeding, weeping in

When the orbit of the earth
Has brought in the dark of night
And memories, remembrances
When all with the world was right

When you cannot escape the bed
That has forged into a cell
Holding you fast for the night
In unending wakefulness

When at last your weary mind
At some hour releases you
Into realms of visions and dreams
That bruise and lance anew

When you finally awake
And the sun shines bright again
Pumping the lifeblood that the night
Has stolen from your veins

Breathe in deeply, close your eyes
This will not be the last
Of eventide’s strange conjuring
Of aching for the past

Many will be the days when
The joyless cycle will repeat
But at some point the salve of time
Will turn the memories bittersweet.
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VERSE | NOSTALGIA

She steps into the car
Its gleaming surfaces
Adorned with gladioli and motia*
She’s the bride tonight
Garlands also lovingly
Entwine in her hair
Their fragrance filling
The nighttime air
Eyes bright
Face shining with expectation
She glances behind her
Just for a moment
One last time
At that spot where she stood
Leaving behind her childhood
Marking the end of her maidenhood
She smiles
Nostalgia now sits there
Young, hopeful and light
Eyes bright
Face shining with expectation
Waiting to fill the space
That has been so tenderly placed
Into her sacred embrace.
* Motia: The Jasmine flower.

VERSE | KNOWING

For every smile upon your lips 
A million more have beamed
On happy faces old and young
With joyfulness they’ve gleamed

For every tear that you have spilt
When sadness cleaved the air
Countless others have also grieved
From the depths of their despair

When You have laughed with tears of joy
Right from your belly out
There have been a billion others
Who’ve chortled in delight

So live completely sit with both
Your joy and with your pain
The energy that thrums in you
Flows in everyone the same

For every smile that’s on your lips
For every tear that falls
Someone somewhere feels the same
Someone is sharing it all.
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VERSE | METAMORPHOSIS

This is for all those who have survived emotionally, mentally and physically abusive relationships. For those who have discovered the precious blessing of sleeping deeply, peacefully without being haunted by crippling anxiety and the renewed torture that every new day would inevitably bring in its wake.

I look at him 
Threatening, raging
Berating me
The cruel words sidling in
Between his verbal pounding
I recognise, I see
His enterprise
To humiliate me
To agitate, to fluster me
To intimidate
To paralyze me.
I’m going to leave you
One of these days
If you tell
Anyone anywhere
About any of this
I swear
I will make you into the beas
t
The one unfit
The one tearing down this relationship


I look at him
Frozen in place
My heart still
I’m incapable
Of seeing beyond
My fear
I’m incapable
Of seeing anything
Beyond the terrifying sacredness
Of the union
We signed together
I’m incapable
I’m powerless
I’m numb
All I hear is a hum
A white noise in my head
Autonomous, involuntary
Humming humming humming
Preserving my sanity
Maybe my life …

And then one day
He followed through
On all the threats
That he had let loose
Into the fabric
Of our togetherness
I’m l e a v i n g y o u
He said, emotionless
This time there was no
Placating hum
No cloaking thrum
Inside of me
Hiding me, shrouding me
I looked at him
Cold sweat gripping
My face, my neck
The insides of my thighs
Dripping, dripping endlessly
But my mouth was parched
My lips were dry
I felt like I was going to die

But I didn’t crumble
In the wind
Whirling in the murky
Depths of things
I survived
I stayed alive
That shared horizon
Spilling blood
Dirty linen streaked with mud
Was washed into the sea
Decaying into infinity
A whole new realm had suddenly
Stretched out in front of me
Full of peace and gratefulness
Gladness and serenity
Where I was calm and I was whole
I had my body and my soul
There was no fear
No agony
No trauma filled spaces
Beckoning me

Like Kafka’s Metamorphosis*
In reverse
I have broken through the curse
No more thrashing, crashing heart
Petrified and frozen limbs
No more grim hellishness
Of emotional poison stings
Making me cry, making me cringe
I’m still here. I’m here still
My lungs now take in their fill
My heart is beating rhythmically
No suffocating anxiety
Once more I hold the hand of the child
That has lived in my soul all this while
For her
Nothing is impossible.
* KAFKA’S METAMORPHOSIS: 
Metamorphosis is a novella written by Franz Kafka which was first published in 1915 and is considered one of his best works. The main themes revolve around the burden of responsibility, isolation and alienation, and sacrifice.

VERSE | c-ART-arsis

It was one of those treacherous days 
That squats in front of you
Exhausting and depleting
It drains you through and through

I was overcome with listlessness
A pall lay all around
I sat staring into space
Completely stupor-bound

I needed to break the torpor
I needed to feel alive
I recalled some pithy words I’d heard
Of drawing to revitalise

Sketch anything on a blank page
The sage had thus advised
So out I got my notebook
The blank one, without lines

I looked at my set of markers
They were the watercolour sort
Liquid-lovely for colouring in
Already drawn out art

I picked out a green one
The black just seemed too staid
I then sat staring into the creamy
Depths of my blank page

It was said that if you then find
Yourself in a conundrum
Imagination hiding away
No muse, no inspiration

Then just write something positive
And let your mind roam free
The words will inspire by and by
A masterpiece of imagery

“CHOOSE the world you WANT” I wrote
Feeling a wry smile om my lips
So many empty words they seemed
Skepticism had me in its grip

I drew dancing confetti to bring
Some joy to the lifeless leaf
Adding comet-like tails to the C and T
Shedding some existential grief

Then I added whorls and twirls
To the words I’d written down
In reds and blues and oranges
Purples, violets and browns

The sentence glimmered on the page
In colourful celebration
In all the rainbow hues and more
An uplifting declaration

I smiled, the sluggish spell now gone
Every flourish had set me free
Enshrined in my mood uplifting art
The words now also surrounded me.

VERSE | GRIT

For all the women and the men supporting them; for all those who get up every morning and despite all odds make it through the day surviving, shining, rising. For the friends and families of Sara, Mahsa, Noor, Qurat Ul Ain and of the countless nameless others like them: your grit is everything.

When it’s been tormenting
Day after day. With no respite
And I just don’t have it in me to fight
To battle on
When I’m war-weary
When there is no end in sight
And all I want to do
Is sit in a dark room
And let its coolness shroud me
Until I can feel the hair
Stand on my skin. There
Is suddenly more to the day
Than the heaviness in my heart
And the endlessness of the grey
That has been flowing, gripping choking me
Keeping me doubled down on my knees
There’s more beyond that malevolent mien
Images, memories driving me insane

Now -

Now there is also something
On the outside of me
A little chill
A little photo on the window sill
Both pull at me in different ways
One makes icicles
To sear through
The magma that has congealed
Inside of me
The other makes my blood flow warm
Streaming, coursing through my veins
Reminding me that I am home
My spirit and my fortitude
Still cloak my shoulders
Strong and true
I sit up straight
As they reverberate
Through every atom of my being
And they chant
An age old song
Of others like me
Who’ve fought on
Their hearts fused forever
With the loved ones they’ve lost
And I know
That I’m not wielding my sword alone
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VERSE | FALL FAREWELLS

A melancholy rustle stirs in the leaves
Holding heavy in their boughs
Their green, green garbs have faded
They are in mourning now

For the bounties once bestowed on them
By spring and then by summer
Now they curl their mottled frames
In the briskness of September

Lady Autumn has this special
Cleansing Ritual that she wields
Back into the earth they go
Flowers, butterflies and leaves

The promise of new beginnings too
Is buried with their shapes
For when spring comes round again
For when again they will all wake

The leaves are weary as they cling
To seasons that have gone
But soon they too will hear her sing
The soothing song of Fall

VERSE | UNTIL THEN

He looked at me with eyes of love 
I could not hold his gaze
My heart lay closed and tightly bound
In yards of purple lace

It once had soared high above
Where eagles roam the skies
But since then it had plummeted
It had shrivelled up and dried

By and by it beat again
As I slowly found my peace
But it still liked to hide away
In its blue-violet niche

So when he looked at me with eyes
That spoke of tender starts
I looked away, there was no way
Into my blue-bruised heart

Someday when the colours change
Of the blood that flows within
Of when my heart reddens anew
And once more soars and sings

I hope that I can hold that gaze
So full of affection
Until then I hope to heal enough
To want to love again

VERSE | WOULD I BE READY?

I sometimes wonder if I heard
A new rustle in the trees
Would I be brave enough
To open up my door and see

I wonder if I ever heard
Its tread outside my place
Would I be calm and ready
To meet it face to face

I might sit still holding my breath
This would be something new
But it is all eventual
It’s what we all go through

If it looked at me and held
Out its hoary palm
I wonder if I’d have courage enough
To clasp it in my own

If it stood to lead ahead
Waiting for my cue
I wonder if I would follow it
Into the cosmic blue

If indeed it came to me
While I was fast asleep
I wonder if I would float away
On wings of final dreams

And so I hope that when I hear
My name called to depart
That in serenity and grace I walk
The all-eternal path