CW: depression, self-harm, disturbing imagery
I’m a stone’s throw from the island called, “good for nothing.”
My depression is my caregiver and I’m his patient.
My parents don’t understxand our relationship and blame him for my rebellion,
“Your depression is a shape-shifter who will eat you from the inside out”, they say,
Nobody understands us. We’re meant for each other like a ribbon & scissors.
He calls me to the “upside-down”, speaks to me in an alien tongue,
hisses like a cornered cat and pronounces the f(s) and r(s) in my name
with a breathy voice, making me feel I too matter, I too belong.
They don’t believe me when I tell them that he is a shadow,
a silhouette you often think of like a ghost but it isn’t;
a trail of blood on the grass without any signs of an injured body;
He is my umbra and I’m his moon.
He calls birds “paper planes” that fly using magnetic force,
trees as “pillars” etched by the architect to bridge the gap between sea and breeze,
and the sun as the “glowing pulp of orange” that you can devour to beat the heat.
“You’re a good poet with an eye for metaphors” I often tell him.
Oftentimes, he makes fun of my feeble attempts to express myself
in a non-native language that kicks me out every time I knock at its door,
and I request him to let me try again.
“I will make you a famous writer overnight if you follow these five steps”, he retorts.
1) Mention Keats and Shelly as your favourite poets instead of Sylvia or Bukowski.
2) Display fake award nomination letters instead of cut-outs of Sylvia’s poems like “Edge” and “Daddy”.
3) Don’t read at all but call yourself an all-knower wherever you go.
4) Doubt every verse you write and never finish a poem because who’s going to read it anyway?
5) Call yourself “idiot” and “dumb” in front of the mirror ten times a day. It works like a charm, trust me.
At times, I wonder how he can be so kind to me.
He is so charming, confident and likeable that he can find almost anyone
in and beyond the cosmos.
(even god would want to have a drink with him, I believe
had he been born earlier, god would have invited him to a late-night party
to get over his breakup with satan.)
On the contrary, who am I?
a walking ball of hair with half-broken glasses, pouched belly and dark circles,
and yet ye chooses to be with me every day. How kind of him!
For some reason, when I begin to think like this,
My bumpy scalp, pale red scars and swollen lips look at me with a wondering sadness,
“Mama, you really think papa needs a reason to love you?!”
and I wonder, are my kids too smart or I’m too dumb?
Yonaguni Monument Says She Is A Great Find!
They taught me about the endless cycle of birth and death
but forgot to tell me of something known as an in-betweener:
a fine thread of life woven from the wool of chaos
to knit the dress of order.
I learnt this bitter truth
when a young diver revived me from the cold, charismatic sea,
and caressed my body with the warmth of love I knew nothing of.
In the very shallow waters, I was
waiting for my bones to deteriorate,
the tears on my cheeks had gotten dry,
the pupils of my eyes had turned to white pearl stones
the strong currents had ripped my body apart.
he looked at me intently, and said a few words like ‘’submerged’’, ‘’monolith’’,
I didn’t know what they meant,
as much as I understood English, sub meant below, merge meant blend,
and monolith perhaps, a stone of unknown origins.
I don’t know how long he kept me there,
and tried to figure out what I was and what I was doing underneath,
but he was curious to see me, perhaps I was his first find.
I tried to close my eyes again,
fearing he would inform other divers and they all would gang up on me
but he looked at every part of my body with curiosity,
touched it, kissed it, held it
perhaps to see whether I was conscious of my existence or his presence.
Each carving on my body fascinated him,
he looked at them with the utmost respect
and when archaeologists and divers came to see me,
they all had a childlike smile on their face,
I was taken out of the water, bathed in freshwater, and inspected
by teachers, youngsters, geeks and the elderly,
they all pronounced me a monument simultaneously.
Dumpster a la carte
A homeless man, named Arif eats food from a restaurant's dumpster and grabs whatever he finds: large loaves of bread, half-rotten chunks of bacon and small slices of cheese sandwiches; you name it. “They have a good menu’’, he often says. He shares his food with his friends too. They all call the dumpster their “God” and bows their head to it/Him. When one restaurant closes its business, they move to find another god and sing another hymn.
A leg piece for my boy
It's a poverty-stricken family in Karachi with three daughters and one son.
Daughters offer home tuition, do household chores and study;
Son earns for the family.
At the dining table, daughters pour water into the gravy to increase its viscosity,
and give a leg piece to their brother happily.
He is the only son and breadwinner of a patriarchal family.
One of those daughters is my mom.
She worked hard enough to feed her children
(Fizza Abbas is a writer based in Karachi, Pakistan. Her work has been nominated for the Best of The Net award and shortlisted for Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition 2021. She has also authored two books, Ool Jalool (Fahmidan Publishing) and Bakho (Ethel Press). Aside from writing, she also runs a YouTube channel)