Tag Archives: poems

For The Women

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For the Women

For the women who think
I’m too dark
my hair is too tangled
I’m too tall, too short
too round, too flat
I forgive you.

For the women who pity me
because I’m alive
but my womb is always vacant
because I’m a mother
but all my children are females
I forgive you.

For the women who shame me
because I’m putting a ring on it
I’m not putting a ring on it
I took off the ring
I don’t want to put a ring on it
I forgive you.

For the women who mock me
because I wear my face
with or without hiding my acnes, birthmarks, burns
because I wear what I want
without being ashamed, weak, or sorry
I forgive you.

For the women who condemn me
because I slap back, talk back, fight back
cook, clean, drive, ride, fly, protest
read, write, design, travel, study, love
I forgive you.

The Broken Jars

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She plans her protest
tucks a handkerchief in her satchel
she writes slogans and fold them like flags
she wears that dappled jeans shirt
she never liked and will never again
she checks on her voice;
the one she’s been storing it in a jar

she makes sure no one suspects anything
mother worries too much; forgot her voice in the jar
father sides with gargoyles, till he became one
brother thinks only men go to square and become martyrs
sister thinks it’s not too late to find a husband

 she closes the door behind her
knowing her jaw might get broken
by men like her father and brother
her bones might sleep in a dirty cell
guarded by women like sister and mother

 she broke the jar and let her voice out
echoing across every square
her the sound of other jars
breaking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a Poetry Writer

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I am a poetry writer. I find it very difficult to say that I am a poet. After all I’ve never published a collection of poems. My poems haven’t appeared in famous poetry magazines or websites. The word poet for me is like buying your child size 5 while they are still 3. They will grow into it.

I am a poetry writer. I’m currently writing poems for my assignments. But I wrote my first poem in 2003 and since then I have not stopped. I’m not planning on stopping. When the deadlines stop, I hope I will still sit and write, or try to write.

I am a poetry writer. Sometimes I feel like I arrived to the party late. All the guests have left, all the food was served, and all the decorations were removed. They say that poetry is dead art. And sometimes it does feel frustrating that of all writings, I write the least popular, the least prestigious, and the least profitable. I sometimes do wish I wrote computer programs instead. But then I come to read a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye or watch Suheir Hammad performing one of her poems. I feel that something so powerful, poignant, and so moving can’t be dead. It fills me with this urge to write and write more, to think of what magic tricks words could perform, what messages it could deliver. I know that writing poetry probably won’t take me places. It is not the next big thing for me. But I know it’s THE thing for me.

I am a poetry writer. Sometimes I feel that I wasn’t even invited to the party, but I crashed it anyway. English isn’t my first language. My mother tongue is Arabic.
But my poems chose their own, English. I have loved English since I was 10. I learned it through English songs. Maybe that’s why my poems are in English. But this makes me want to place emphasis that my poems are in English, but they aren’t English. They are everything that I am; Muslim, Palestinian woman of color. This may make people take my poetry less seriously. But I have no interest writing poems like Wordsworth or even T.S Eliot. My poems are like my fingerprints. They distinguish me. They define me.

I am a poetry writer.
And I will keep writing poems; Crappy ones, mediocre ones, excellent ones.
I will probably keep writing poems that will be only published on my personal Facebook page.
I will probably keep writing poems that I only read and like.
I will probably keep writing poems that make me feel that I never want to write again.
I will probably keep writing poems just  for the sake of it.

 

 

 

On Poetry and Social Media

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I don’t claim to be an experienced poet or an expert on poetry. These are observations that I’ve come to realize since I am excited about poetry and I do use social media to promote my poems.

1-Poetry always finds a way: let’s talk about poetry journals, magazines and books. They are those far and formidable fortresses that reject most of commoners, unseasoned poets. Rejection letter after another, poets start searching for an alternative to share their work. And social media, particularly Instagram, has offered this outlet. And it’s not only accessible, it’s also popular and innovative. So poets using social media hardly come as surprise.

2-Social media is changing the form of poetry and its length. And it’s not a bad thing. William Wordsworth would be delighted that in the age of social media his daffodils are on Youtube. Fast pace life requires fast pace poems. Shorter and more poignant poems. And in the age of 140 digits, 1080px photo as a poet you have to accommodate your poems. #Instapoem, #poetrygram are a real thing now. And it’s proven that it has an audience.

3- Poetry is a craft. And that’s what poets on Instagram often forget. While it’s true that social media is game changer for poetry and poets, it’s crucial to remember that poetry is something you learn. It’s a science. You learn its different terminology, its theories, and its craft. Poets are born, but you still need to learn its ins and outs to write better. And believe me, it’s not an easy thing.

4-Don’t mistake diaries for poems. While dairies can be poems in the making, they aren’t poems. And motivational, emotional, and inner thoughts that operate within abstractions fall short to be full-fledged poems. An advice to fellow poets read Ezra Pounds essay on poetry. And start from there.

5-Find a middle ground: people shy away from poetry thinking it has to be perplexing labyrinth of language and thought only understood by the elites . And some people, thanks to some very simplistic shallow poems found on Instagram, think that social media has ruined poetry. It doesn’t have to be this way though. One has to study poetry ,no doubt. Social media isn’t an excuse for mediocre poems. But also one shouldn’t give up writing poetry , because poetry journals are some exclusive clubs.

If you are a poet and write good poetry and read good poetry, you shouldn’t hold it back. But don’t compromise quality because you want to be a popular Instagram poet. And don’t despair because poetry journals are rejecting your poems. Write for yourself first and foremost. And have lots of coffee and self-doubt.

And by the way I have started my own Instagram account where I share my poems Poeticalaspirations

While Reading This Poem

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I’ve never intended to let my voice
crackle with sultry tears
while reading this poem
but a mother kissing
the forehead of her dead child
took over my chimes

I’ve never intended to sound
like laboring lava
while reading this poem
but a soldier’s strip-search and spits

a cop’s stop and frisk
made me erupt

I’ve never intended to close
my eyes and lose breath
while reading this poem

but my boat is sinking
washing me ashore, face down in sand

I’ve never intended to write this poem

Laila

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After all this time,
I still remember her
The most
Laila,
my doll, my first doll
Made by my grandma
As a gift for Eid

Laila,
Black woolen hair
Sack of rice body
Filled with cotton
Pink dress with a small white apron
“She feels what you feel,
that’s why her face is blank”
grandma said

Laila was my friend,
my only friend
we hopped scotched together
Read stories, swung on trees
Laila and me didn’t understand
The big world
we just knew that we were here
For each other

Laila fought my fears
“it’s just thunder!”
“men in ugly green uniform will go away soon”
“daddy will come back soon”
“Mommy is crying because of the onions”

I gave her safety
“if we have to run,
I will take you”
“I will never let anyone take you away from me”
“You are my best friend!
“I love you,”

But bad things happen
I was woken up
And taken from my bed
We ran to the sea
“But Laila!”
“We will come back for her”
mama said

That night Laila slept alone
In their bed
Laila was waiting her friend
From that night
Laila had a different name
There was no thunder anymore,
Laila remained blank