poems by Hibah Shabkhez

Under the Skin

 

Would I fain not peel these subterfuges

Neatly, like a banana’s yellow shell

Off these your eyes locked in a forced slumber?

Cut out in neat slicelings the refuges

Of the autophagous guilts that compel

You to stillness? Not gracefully sunder

 

You from its throes? But would I not then find

A curved white column as closed and obscure

That would promptly break into three, unbind,

Expose its threads of rot, then be no more?

 

 

 

X-Ray Eyes

 

From wind-nudges we seek sanctuary

Like the tall aspens of song and legend,

Like September leaves clinging to the tree,

Like ashen shells of broken-eggs-to-be.

 

Wind and Water, Fire and Earth,

Build us waiflings a shield and hearth!

 

From gazes that bore flinchlessly without end

Upward, coreward into cringing skies

That to fear-sogged lead baleful glares rend,

We flee, crawl to the grey shadows to mend.

 

Wind and Water, Fire and Earth,

Build us waiflings a shield and hearth!

 

From eyes that deem flesh and skin warping lies,

Immovable as stones pierce through to see

The bare soul-truth that unswaddled in ruth dies,

We fly, and howl in faux bereft-wolf cries.

 

Wind and Water, Fire and Earth,

Build us waiflings a shield and hearth!

 

 

 

Just Human Things

 

You can’t be happy the bees are dying

Even though they sting not in self-defence

Like other insects, but with viciousness

And purpose almost human. You commence

By glaring at the news, long to erase

The grinning bee-coloured sun pointed west,

 

That fuel of life that dips its head and says

‘Remember me, earthling? Yes, I sting too

But you pray for me to go on shining.’

Nature is laughing up her moonlit sleeve:

‘You can’t be happy the bees are dying

Because you’re human. You know you must grieve.’

 

 

 

Quavering at Fate

 

The shoe rolls into a wavering row

These six worn red balls sprawling on the pitch

Waiting for the old man’s square drives to throw

Each one into the net with a skill which

Quavers at fate a full kettle of rage

 

The clouds, grass, birds, planes, flowers are all zoomed

Out of eyes bent upon this one fiddle;

In the trembling strands of the nylon-cage

Glints the stark hurt of a being born doomed

To live laugh love greatly and win little

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