Why I don’t trust shisha smokers

There are certain people I don’t trust.
One of them is a shisha smoker.
“Why how judgemental you Wes”,
True, but how can I take a man seriously,
that puts a pipe between his lips,
proceeds to suck billows,
and billows,
and billows,
and billows,
and billows,
and billows,
and blows,
and blows,
and blows,
and blows,
and blows,
and blows,
hot, air
hazy air,
smokey air,
worse yet,
flavoured, hot, hazy, smokey air,
into the face of the world.

I can’t see through their breath,
I can’t hear a word of truth in their exhale.

The meandering, the pretending,
the display of being so wound up,
they need a device to unwind,
not only comes to me as a cry for attention,
but is a smoke screen they prompt for coolness,
and I don’t do well with cool-addicts.

Little boy,
grow up,
you can’t comfort yourself,
in a vapour of pillows forever


Then I find out thirty eight years deep into my life my great grandfather had the same disdain for shisha smokers.


Beat this poem out of me,
like a towel against a wall,
let my sand fall,
I’m wet with lust, anger and melancholy,
I’m arid with sorrow, disappointment and worry,
yet I have to endure,
for the breath of seven,
to remain pure.

What traps a man,
between embrace and a shackle,
is the limit of his imagination,
every emotion,
is a welcome expiation,
a meditation,
a realisation,
and we long for the weight to shed,
just to cipher a stanza,
be it spoken or toil through fingers,
contorted in sinew and spine,
whether the work of heart,
or absent of mind.



revoltedMy safe space,
my comfort zone,
is too taboo,
so I have to do it alone.

So long as I keep my hyper masculinity on my sleeves,
like bulging biceps or an inflated chest,
I can keep my emotions buried and hidden,
between this fleshen nest.

Men can’t be both,
we’re either too soft,
or too hard,
too together,
or too apart,
fragmented into convenient bits and lots,
able to be filed and sorted into slots,
convenient for comfort,
but let those feelings rot.

Keep them buried,
leave the platform for the meek,
let women herald the stage,
as for men,
leave their emotions only worthy,
for ink on a page.


What’s up with that huh?
Can’t a burly bloke walk the lines of poetic prowess,
whilst like a gorilla, size you up, fisticuffs ready and beat his chest?



Like him, I don’t say much,
but in writing, I chatter and prattle,
word bloat and fat, like well fed cattle,
the cure he didn’t find, the endless rattle,
mind bend, mind broke, bludgeoned in battle.

How many a man loses this fight,
how many a father with sleepless nights,
how many lay idle, and out of sight,
dormant in quiet, you’d know not their plight.


caves and dragons


Art by SaiKayden


caves and dragons

Why does a woman crying in the dark,
conjure empathy to crawl out of our hearts,
even if they’re as dark as ravenous caves,
whilst a man crying in the light of day,
unleashes from the same cave,
dragons of apathy,
in fire breathing disdain.


the double standards are real.
intentional or not
Why do you think so?



there are two things which break a man
being taught how to be one
by his son
or by his wife
both are necessary
if he struggles on his own


Pray you have a good one of each or either.
As heartbreaking  as it is,
To be shown how to be something,
You assumed you already are,
It leaves a tranquil etch in you,
Too proud,
You still wear the achievement,
Despite the bereavement.

Pangs for alphahood,
Missing manhood,
Courage, chivalry,
Wayward gentlemanly,
Finding galantry,
Sitting on your sons shoulders,
Sitting in your wife’s breast.

It’s ok,
Taste it on your lips,
Swirl it on your palate,
Let it dance at the back of your throat,
And fill your belly,
There’s nothing that can sweeten the blow,
It’s something you just have to swallow slow.


Sons under the sun – France, Saudi, same, same


the irony of course is not the women,
not the liberation, not the oppression,
nor the men policing them either,
but it’s the sand.

the connectedness of this dry and pale backdrop,
which I don’t know if the artist meant,
but I also don’t know if people realise.

Men, dry from the moisture of comprehension,
but wet behind the ears,
still oblivious to the idea,
that they don’t own other men,
especially other women.

and despite our outward appearance,
we haven’t evolved anywhere in the world,
secularist, fundamentalist,
dogmatic or pragmatic,
oh they love the words,
both pride themselves on arbitrary definitions.

what kind of wombs bore you,
i wonder if they deplore you,
would you police your mothers too,
would you still hold the same view?

if it were your mother that was dressed,
or undressed,
would you still feel the need to oppress?

I wonder,
what the world would look like if right from the start,
women were just left alone,
how much more would we as a civilisation,
have grown?

This arid backdrop is the wasteland of what we have become,
of two images of things that can’t be undone,
both burned into our retinas,
by women’s sons, under the sun.


Art by Khalid Albaih