smoke and mirrors

smoke-and-mirrors2
I thought about buying a mirror,
nothing fancy,
old, long and slender,
but reflective.

I don’t mind if the edges are chipped,
or if a crack runs through it,
reminds me of myself.

I remember the hours spent in front of it,
a boxer has to stare at themselves for hours on end,
most people become vain when they do so,
not us,
we grow weary,
we see the ugly,
we see the worst of ourselves,
but we don’t wallow there,
we fix it.

We toil with blood and mucous,
acid filling our bones,
muscles imploding with calcium drop after calcium drop,
sweat, stench and metallic tongues,
what a delight, what a treat.

What, you thought we were just made violent?
The act of violence takes a lot of abuse against yourself,
until you don’t recognise a self,
you stop being human,
and start being just a data bank,
with lightening recollection of information,
relevant to the pinnacle of abuse.

So here I am,
stuck at the dichotomy of awareness and neglect,
wondering,
should I buy that mirror,
or, should I pick it up off the side of the road,
and erect it in my garage,
for my son.

Do I want him staring at himself,
do I want him wondering in and out of self abuse?
How does a father reconcile nurture and punishment,
how does a father,
pass on manhood,
and womanhood,
with the same breath,
with the same clenched fist?

How am I to show him,
how to grasp a man’s throat,
and hold dear life between the vice grip of his claws,
recognising the inches it takes before death,
and knowing the look in a man’s eyes,
when their ego is removed,
so as to release your clutch,
and with those same hands tending to roses,
plucking olives from trees,
covering a seedling with enough soil,
for water, breath and light.

How do I do all these things son,
without you looking back,
to blame me for too little or too much?

How do I teach you,
that the purpose of a mirror,
is to stare at yourself long enough,
to see the ugly,
and fix it.

W.E.

skyward hand

sufi-beggar

Where is that beggar I used to see,
this street is lonely without his upward hand,
his smile, his well wishes,
blown away,
like a dervish in the sand.

My mock, my wit,
won’t avail, with time conspiring against me,
his prayer, his litany,
might be the only thing that avails me.

How oft we tread on hallow ground,
but aloof with our eyes towards the sky,
it’s not heaven were looking towards,
but the mountain of grandeur,
we’re so accustomed to tell ourselves lies.

Whilst there on the floor,
my beggar friend sits,
aware of all that is above him,
and I, in ignorance,
took him for a peasant,
without noticing he was a king.

Sufi literature is heavy with example,
with history of princes, kings and queens,
abandoning their position,
donning the garb of a beggar,
because they were afflicted with the unseen.

And here I am,
sound faculty of mind,
intellectualising all that I know,
when what I should have been doing,
is walking to divinity,
and like the dervish,
with wind and sand,
allow myself to be blown.

W.E.

There is a beggar who usually frequents a mosque I pray at. I never see him inside, always outside, waiting to ask someone for a dollar or two.

It’s usually at noon prayer that I find myself in the midst of hustle and bustle,
fleeing from the noise to the sanctuary of silence hidden in crevices of the city, in this little mosque, unknown to most of the outside world.

Perhaps, by the sincerity of the peaceful folk that frequent there, God has veiled it from preying eyes, and left it for crying eyes, and praying hearts, perhaps God has shrouded the hearts of the non-followers with veils of peace, or indifference but this iron barred solace, remains unscathed, in a time and place where it doesn’t belong.

He waits, he knows, he remembers the ones that place money in his palm.

My teachers always taught me, never to refuse the palm of a beggar, to assume it is God himself asking, perhaps through a medium, perhaps to test me, to see if I am really devoted to Him, to see if I truly believe ‘to Him I belong and to Him I return’, everything is in His dominion, all of wealth and all of poverty. All of it, His, and perhaps this is my litmus, the trial of me, the Jihad, that I must undertake against my wretched soul.

My teachers were never ones for small talk, they made sure they drove home the message with utter clarity and that it laid in a bath of conviction in my heart.

With this in mind, I’d always give this man something. He was always grateful.

I don’t know what overcame me, perhaps annoyance, perhaps arrogance, perhaps the devil in me, I don’t know but the last time I saw him, I grew annoyed, I pestered him when he approached me. I asked why he was lying to me. He told me a very tall tale as to why he needed money.

I dislike lying and grow agitated and extremely angry when lied to, and perhaps I used this as an excuse to justify my pestering him. I was never not going to give him something, but I pestered him and asked him why he was lying to me and that I would give him what he wanted if he just didn’t lie, Muslims are not meant to lie, it is considered of the utmost of major sins.

He kept saying ‘ok, ok, I’ve got schizophrenia, I’m here to see the doctor’. (it was a public holiday). I still didn’t believe him, nevertheless I gave as I usually do and as usual he was thankful and left as I went inside to pray.

It’s been a couple of weeks and I haven’t seen him at all. Today, I grew sad walking towards the mosque, wondering what happened to him. I grew annoyed with myself and anxious, I wanted to punch myself and as I thought of being a failure, at letting my fat ego get in the way, my bloated mind, my obese yapping heart, I felt bruised all over.

That feeling I got when I lost a fight I could have easily won. Lips busted, shins busted, knuckles making holding a spoon near impossible and a jaw you can only drink fluids through, I felt battered.

I hoped nothing had happened to him, and I wanted nothing more than to see his hand outstretched, his teeth broken and rotting through and to hear his Afghani accent, soft and inviting, like he was the one calling me to a banquet, into his home, the gesture of asking, a metaphor of God inviting, and there I was analysing the invitation card, forgetting I have been summoned to a meal with my creator.

I have never felt such shame, ever, and after all this, I wondered still yet, if perhaps I am just so conscious now of what had transpired and only wanted the soft cushion for myself, out of again another hidden trap within my ego, to assure myself that I was generous, like as if I own anything, like as if it is mine to give in the first place. Perhaps I just wanted to avoid the punishment I was ready to fledge myself with. I don’t know.

I do know, I still wish his hand was there, so I could place something in it without him even asking.

W.E.

balance

balanceCowardice,
has subconsciously become the default,
men and women overwhelmed,paralysed,
submerged in laxity, passiveness and gluttony,
too busy being fed the lie that they matter,
and all that matters is taking care of themselves,
putting themselves first,
and thus they grow,
age, and un-mature,
yes, UN -Mature,
candles flickering barely keeping a semblance of light inside them,
and never develop the character and spine it takes to help others.

Cowardice comes from never being vulnerable,
cowardice comes from believing your own hype,
never taking one on the chin,
just to see what it feels like.

Both the warrior who won’t engage his soul,
and the sage who won’t engage his sinew,
are complimentary cowards,
bathing in faux austerity of  character.

W.E.

dear grief – 5

dear-grief-5
Aren’t you ever the penance,
the saviour for my sins,
giving me a scapegoat,
from all that lurks within.

How dare they look at me,
with all my faults and gloat,
can’t they see this pain,
and tussle with the goat.

This horn and fleece,
this wolf and berceuse,
if ever a wrestle,
to lull and cease.

These dragging feet,
bones that creak,
grip strong, fingers weak,
solid, astute, meek.

And all your cohorts,
a reply to this deceit,
the gathering pool,
where flesh, grey matter and vapour meet.

Ay this grief,
is just irreconcilable,
unpicked,
meat between teeth.

And we all know,
how quick meat rots, and stenches,
hence why this grief feels like
vice grip clenches.

It lingers and lingers,
pungent,
always on your fingers.

Stains your sheets,
you wake up in sweats,
remembering someone,
un-relinquishing debt.

W.E.

self conscious – perpetuity

surreal-photography-by-martin-stranka-153
The company of an exhaust hum,
a cicada song,
heat vaporising of asphalt,
or the shore of breaths,
inwards and outwards as you sleep on my arm.

Ice cubes fighting cup walls,
conversations of people,
like I’m not in the room,
the fake smile of a girl,
who just wants to keep her job,
I don’t hate her,
I like her more,
but I wouldn’t converse with her.

Does anyone else,
look for the quietest corner of a room,
and the minute you’re sitting in it,
you’re suddenly the most noticeable person there?

Perhaps then I shouldn’t hide,
but wear the same mask everyone else does,
problem is,
even then, I know I’m wearing it.

Self consciousness,
is utter sensitivity,
a womb of paralysis,
helplessness,
to perpetual analysis.

Your ears ring,
your mind buzzes,
your body vibrates,
and your being hums.

It’s not an exhaust,
it’s not a cicada,
the waves off the asphalt are an illusion,
breath, is syncopation of your soul perspiring,
and that’s just it,
it’s all soul,
always the soul.

Where are you then,
with your works towards it?

W.E.

Art by martin stranka – meet me half way

Meeting

 

54860b2883f54c73d2cf571a49effc60

Bring your disorder,
and I’ll bring my anger,
perhaps we’ll revolt each other,
into calm.

Does it take one,
uglier than the other,
to acknowledge how vulgar we both appear?

Does it take,
fear to persuade,
to see past,
our masquerades.

There’s nothing nice,
about two people playing niceties,
just to pass through necessities.

Perhaps,
rising up to the subtlety of fine character,
is what is needed,
an acknowledgement,
that you are not sick,
nor am I angry,
but we’re both lazy.

-Wesam El dahabi

Art: KwangHo Shin – Untitled

Shadows of me

me5
And what are shadows,
but bits of ourselves that allow light to bounce off,
and make pretend we’re not temporary.

We’re definitely temporary,
ever so non necessary,
if granted pardon,
for the folly of ignorance,
and being carried away with importance,
we still, are responsible for remembering.

None of us have amnesia,
not so long as we have breath,
the soul records everything,
to the egos vexation,
and the scroll awakens,
when we lather,
to the spume of death.

A prayer bead hovers over my right shoulder,
ever the reminder,
that it should be between my fingers.

Were it not I had family,
I would have wandered in starvation,
in rags,
in desolation,
isolation,
a dervish, a gypsy, a vagabond,
nomadic, poetic, troubadour,
an alchemist of the heart,
absorbing strangers misery,
sorrows and hurt,
and returning a poem.

W.E.