Two Poems by Hibah Shabkhez

These two poems by Hibah Shabkhez are attempts to assuage a guilty conscience that will never cease to lament the many betrayals-by-silence and niggling moral compromises that make up the average human life. The hand that lacks both the valor and the wit to stop things itself writes them out instead, hoping against hope to find a kind of redemption in doing so…

by: Hibah Shabkhez

Ladders In The Sky

Enthralled, she lets the fatal gossamer
Swathe her sagging wings, having read the doom
Descending in the contortions of her
Hunter’s foul smirk, in each jointed leg-loom
That edges near. See it and learn dread too:
She’s you.

Smothered, she lets every stale, lying plea
Distort in her brain the ink of bruises
To “my fault,” “my failure,” “my destiny,”
Forcing her to take for truth the ruses
The world whispers. Hear it and shudder too:
She’s you.

Enmeshed, she lets the gloating vulture’s beak
Gouge strip after strip from her wings, until
The nestling they shield whimpers: then the meek
Sparrow-head learns the force of dauntless will
Untamed by blood. Smell it and exult too:
She’s you.

Submerged, she lets the sea that would fain quell
Her flaming rage break over her, as she
Becomes unflinching stone, a sea-borne shell
Exuded by a storm-tossed heart to be
A sanctuary. Touch it and weep too:
She’s you.

Unchained, she bids her war-scars fade and merge
To form the frail buds of a fresh blossoming;
Autumn-rent tree relinquishing its urge
To mourn, songbird-like, she savours the spring
Hallowed by her child. Taste it and smile too:
She’s you.


Faux Grenades

Pomegranates veil a garden’s ruinedness
From its own self through autumn and winter:
Knead into the gold debris their ripeness
Fecund and febrile, staining each splinter

Of barrened branch, each inch of leaf-mussed soil
And each heedless fork, each careless foot pressed
On the earth a spurting red. Summer’s toil
Thus has its wild eulogy. Spring is dressed

And starts secretly chafing for its turn.
But here fruits do not now grow. So that red
For the parched earth other grenades must churn
From human flesh riddled with seeds of lead.

Was it for this lie we slew each other,
That our earth our blood would heal, O brother?


Hibah Shabkhez is a writer of the half-yo literary tradition, an erratic language-learning enthusiast, a teacher of French as a foreign language and a happily eccentric blogger from Lahore, Pakistan. Her work has previously appeared in the Rockford Review, Qwerty, The Blue Nib, Ligeia, Cordite Poetry, Headway Quarterly 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.

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