27 Aug 2011

Library book: An analogy

Jurisprudence has always been my weakness, my supervisor has continuously criticised my writing of the philosophical basis of my thesis, I have written and rewritten this chapter so many times that I have grown to hate it, but he will accept nothing less than perfection and so I found myself - again - on the 5th floor of the library, in the depth of the smelly section of legal theory, I left with ten books on Rawls, Nozick and Hart and their analysis of justice, fairness, and redistribution, not the most exciting read! As I rummaged my way through their complex ideas I found that these books were borrowed quite frequently and used heavily, some students have left pencil marks, others were more intense; circling important points, vigorously underlining and highlighting phrases with black, blue and even red markers, the pages were bruised with attention begging arrows that were embossed on the next page and even the next. But if we are borrowing these books knowing, without a doubt that we will return them, either because we are obligated to do so, or because we feel our use of them is temporary and no attachment to such material will ever be formed, then why do we abuse them? What is even more selfish is that if these books were ours i.e. we had spent a good sum of money to own them, we would have been a lot more careful and gentle, we would have thought twice about bruising or marking them, we would probably not lend them to others in fear they will not be returned to us. As people we get borrowed too and we are hurt by marks we are left with by our borrowers (and the marks made by our predecessors on our books) things that have been done to us stay with us, we never rid of them, they become a part of who we are, and we are never quite the same people as we were before being unkindly borrowed.

Someone I knew - not so long ago -  recently sent me a moving letter about how I had left things unsaid, how I mindlessly and selfishly underlined and marked pages before putting the book I had borrowed back on the shelve, in his message he demanded an explanation for my insensitive behaviour, he called it ‘his final stab for closure’. I said something about me being fire and him being water, that although water is pure, cool, nourishing and radiant, fire needs fire not water. It was just an excuse, and it was foolish and cowardly of me to have said that, what I should have said, is that I myself was borrowed, that I’ve been borrowed and scribbled on so many times and for so long that things have become blurry, leading me to become a scribbler too, but I didn’t say that, I couldn’t. I apologised for the pain I caused, but I know it was not enough.
I don’t scribble in borrowed books anymore and if absolutely necessary I keep my highlighting at a minimum with a very soft pencil that can easily be erased.

17 Aug 2011


In this unsettling silence
I spoon your silhouette  
I fit my shadow to your shadow

there are moments when loneliness opens
like a cracked egg
with its yellow gooey eye
its runny edges reach out
frying on the burning slate
it crackles and sears
nothing in this dead disfigured chick
resembles a living thing.

14 Aug 2011

Old self

Since I’ve come to live in the UK I’ve sent my niece numerous presents on birthdays and other occasions, my older sister (her mother) probably felt she had to return the gesture, so for my last birthday she did, I opened a box that came in the post and found a small shiny red coffee cup. When I was still living in Kuwait I was a Turkish coffee addict, I worked hectic hours at the law firm where I practiced and came home around midnight with a mountain of cases to read, Turkish coffee (drank only in small cups due to intensity) was my only salvation. She must have made the connection; I like Turkish coffee and I like the colour red, therefore this red coffee cup must be the perfect birthday present, what was funny though was that I didn’t get it! Not right away at least. This is not surprising seeing how much I’ve changed; living in the UK, Turkish coffee became a luxury, even if I did find it in scarce Arabic shops it was never the good kind, I often didn't have time to make it, as it was – comparing to instant coffee – a bit of a hassle. Now I drink instant with milk in a large mug. However, these small - perhaps trivial - connections people have of us in their minds intrigue me; I am in my older sister’s mind a coffee drinker who likes the colour red! Which was once true, it is my old self, and it stayed with her all those years. But since I left home, I’ve had a child, divorced, moved house, done a postgraduate degree, had some of my poetry published, met people who have had tremendous influence on my thinking, and avoided my old life and my old home by not going back to it for as long as I possibly can. Thus, I’ve changed considerably, but how many old selves do I have? And who did I leave my old self with?
Am I to the doctor who treated my (vicious) asthma from the age of 3 to 14, still the frail, ill little girl who could not master the simple task of inhaling and exhaling? Am I to my old teachers still the obnoxious young woman who thought she knew everything, who always wore white cotton socks and glasses? Because I haven’t had breathing issues since I was 15, I’ve swapped glasses for lenses, and I only wear nude coloured silk holdups with lace tops, I like the feeling of lace and silk hugging my thighs.

I have shed my old selves, even though they were once who I am, I’ve outgrown them, or lost them. But they continue to live in other people’s memories - if a memory exists at all - otherwise my old self is swept away and forgotten like last autumn’s leaves. In most cases I am one of the many names that a person encounters, insignificant and similar, this perception materialized when I received my divorce papers in a DHL envelope a few months back, I was pleased to finally be unshackled after I had been separated for two years, my singularity finally validated, but what was astonishing is that the judge who signed my divorce paper is the same one who verified my marriage contract many years ago. Amongst the hundreds of women he marries and divorces every day, I am just another self, who had agreed to be someone to somebody and that agreement has now come to an end.     

13 Aug 2011


I take you like a pill
reluctant, compelled.

I press you through the
thin, silver, metallic sheet
there’s a comic yet evil
sound to your piercing through
the malleable metal foil
always taking some of the
health warning in bold print as you go

20 mg capsules of chemical
substance I am unable to pronounce
your ridiculously complex name
is only an added emphases  
of your hazardous
side effects

You pop out so easily
but that is not how you go down  
you need to be pushed, thrust, forced
down my throat.

I feel you tumbling heavily
bumping blindly into the interior walls of the canal,
the hallow tube of my muscular chamber where my
vital air and food passages cross

I feel you twisting, turning upside down, down side up
I can never be sure on which face you have landed.

11 Aug 2011


Rummaging in this plastered world
what do I hope to gain from giving the ever hungry?
what do I hope to save from my sieving religion?
i have loved, but never a love I could not poke holes in
sunk in pleasure, but never a sweetness that didn’t turn acid
in people’s hollow mouths, I feel defeated
i want a language that renders silence
a home that doesn’t grow small or weary
no door I’ve bolted ever barred these winds of unhappiness
no man’s warmth ever stopped my shivering in the night
i want to satisfy this female who rides me with reins harsh and jagged
i want to find a face under the cracks of my flawless foundation.

9 Aug 2011

Romance amidst British riots!

Let us love now
Let us love now
and live to tell our offspring
how the riots stood a hindrance to our kisses
your eyes as flames set to pound shops
your embraces as fierce as thugs to Primark
your words can undo chaos, reverse violence
I am in your absence as a Cameron is to his people’s forgiveness
I am in your arms as redeemed as a cackling Clegg.   

4 Aug 2011

Love is born mature

When I became a mother I expected everything;
the terrible fevers when I was desperate for sleep
the agony of teething and tantrums and waking up
at 5:00am to a little voice calling from the toilet ‘mummy I’m finished!’
the bitterness of nail biting solutions, the persistent persuasion to eat vegetables
the hectic school runs, the awkwardness of ‘mummy where do babies come from?’
But nobody told me that love is born mature
‘mummy, you rest in bed and I’ll bring you everything you need, okay?’

3 Aug 2011


Sometimes I would want to go home,
but I’m not sure where that is

isn’t home another man invented sentiment?
an illusion to legitimise his other illusions
of loyalty, nostalgia, love?

a woman who survives an oppressive man
lives the rest of her life homeless
her unhappiness coiling around her waist,
slithering between her thighs
she knows 
how misery takes without asking.