Grey Hair – Hibah Shabkhez

Deep Overstock

Each grey hair I grow has powers unknown
To all but the torchlight that never blinked
In the storm that unlit our beacons, thrown
Into darkness by the ardour that winked

And sputtered hope. All the while that serene,
Stolid tube of trapped and vapid light stared
On, through the thunder, at the drowning green
Faces and porches standing almost bared

Of their ramparts of privilege. But dare
We raise cold grace to the rank of the hiss
Of log-fires, of candles’ need to care
For us? Do we forget to treasure this?

Better to feign and mourn a Love unfelt
And sneak, secretless, into a sphinx’s pelt

Hibah Shabkhez is a writer of the half-yo literary tradition, an erratic language-learning enthusiast, and a happily eccentric blogger from Lahore, Pakistan. Her work has previously appeared in Zin Daily, Litbreak, Broadkill, Rising Phoenix, Big City Lit,

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Not A Road-Kill

Plucked from your seat, tossed like a dollAwaken slumped against a wallNumbly whispering a prayer.xxxJust lie there.Breathe, breathe, breathe your fillxxxUntil –

Just Saying + Envy

Just Saying Pulling on scruffy, badly-laced joggersWith savage triumph, I dig inky handsInto the deep pockets of my tree-brownGreatcoat, ....

Narcissa, Narcissa

into my bones the termite colonyof knowledge thrusts a new branch. allthis anguished inking, and my legacy ...

BEING OLD By Hibah Shabkhez

The Rising Phoenix Review


In our brains the ‘if you want to succeed
You must work hard’ saws and adages they fit
Like whip-toting consciences that feed
On the false promises, oft implicit
Of a lasting happiness. Not the kind
That may soothe and cheer in an idle hour
Spent feeding birds, but a thing you may bind
With chains of gold in a secret tower.

With curving spines and quashed hearts, with heads sore
From inflictions of small torments to foil
Sleep, the struggle must be endured. Wherefore
Having lashed myself to this mortal toil
This optimisation of every breath,
On the road more taken, here in this cold
Knowledge wrung from a life akin to death
I sigh ‘It is difficult being old’.

At seven and twenty, in exhaustion
Of soul, I whisper these my brother’s words,
Stolen for this cry to the sky’s legion,
To be chirped cawed croaked…

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Zoological Studies

They cannot run towards me, or away:     They can only flutter awhileAt the steel bars, then drop out of view.So I distribute glimmers of my smileTo all three bird-cage rows and say      ‘I want to write a poem about you’ The parrots hop and jibber ‘you! blue! clue!’     The macaws cackle their disdain;The peacock preens … Continue reading Zoological Studies


‘Angered seasons have ere now’, creak the bonesOf the old, ‘laid cities to waste. Now timeWill uproot from our earth the enraged stonesAnd heap them upon our heads’. But the grime Of their dreads leaves the young unmoved and sureIn changing with the changings of the freeWorld to find horizons broader and moreAlluring. This time's … Continue reading Wilderness

Minefield of Pain

My mémoire is a minefield of painEach word worms into my chafed fleshLike the trickling salt of summer sweat,The aftertaste of taunts laughed away Cette étude explore once againOases left unfed to the thresh;Ouvre again the gashes that letThe fell words m’effacer, m’écraser Foul acid-rain showers, they still sloughShield after shield from the memoryBound to … Continue reading Minefield of Pain

Conversations With My Diary, Summarised

18y - I am a person. - Are you quite sure? 19y - Am I a person? - You should be more. 20y - Am I a good person? - If you have to ask ... 21y - I am not a good person. - Take yourself to task! 22y - I am a bad … Continue reading Conversations With My Diary, Summarised

Two Poems By Hibah Shabkhez — Grand Little Things

Rent In Twain The eagle within me dreams of soaring Above aught that in earth-tied eyes may gleam: Plucking the richest prey out of the plain To the echo of wails and vain roaring; Brooding over the talon-scarred bones, Adding daily more tokens of the slain, Vaunting each triumph with a savage scream; Queen […] via … Continue reading Two Poems By Hibah Shabkhez — Grand Little Things

Three Poems by Hibah Shabkhez

Bandit Fiction

Eleven Princesses and a Queen

They fled, the brothers, as my prince danced
Feet tapping out the drumbeats to the last;
The soldier at them his fox-hounds lanced
From the tinder; then laughed and let them past,
Twirling his new crown about his finger.

The cobblers begging work from door to door
Cry: alack, the princesses dance no more!

Then my sisters in darkness sped away
For an address carrying one last smile
There in that last minuet exchanged; fey
Frisking feet had needed no names to while
The winter nights; in rent hearts smiles linger.

The cobblers begging work from door to door
Cry: alack, the princesses dance no more!

The last braved a storm, groaned over a pea;
For a space the ninth in fair slumber lies;
The third sold her soul to the demon-sea
For grace; the fifth to Bluebeard…

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Querencia – Hibah Shabkhez

My favourite cat lives on a bookshelf My favourite dog is made of brown thread; My favourite people ... via Querencia – Hibah Shabkhez

‘Man is Clay’ by Hibah Shabkhez

via 'Man is Clay' by Hibah Shabkhez

Uproot the Hobbling Magic – Hibah Shabkhez

via Uproot the Hobbling Magic - Hibah Shabkhez

Pandemic Poems

The first of the virus-work Do Not Use The Word Knit Me Thunder Yearnings Coronavirus Poems      

Hibah Shabkhez: “Quaint Mournings”


Quaint Mournings

In shivers of pain we paint our nails bright
To conceal the arching, skin-fused beauty
Of translucence that mirrors and pools light
To crunch and strew in shards

As we drift through the deserted doorways
Falling in love with sweet melancholy
That grants us the right to languish and gaze
Inwards, backwards, homewards.

Hibah Shabkhez is a writer of the half-yo literary tradition, an erratic language-learning enthusiast, a teacher of French as a foreign language and a happily eccentric blogger from Lahore, Pakistan. Her work has previously appeared in Petrichor, Remembered Arts, Rigorous, Lunate, With Painted Words, The Dawntreader, and a number of other literary magazines. Studying life, languages, and literature from a comparative perspective across linguistic and cultural boundaries holds a particular fascination for her.

Twitter: @hibahshabkhez
Instagram: @shabkhez_hibah

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Warping Teaspoons

Starfish-delved daisies her sight-leached eyes weep To hear the note of glee into the hushed voices creep As they strip into whistling dashes her name via WARPING TEASPOONS

Vanished Smiles

My voice stands for the vanished smiles Of the silenced children, Whose innocence dies Starved and caged, in the knowledge Of having been undone By our self-serving lies; Who grow up to know Hell so intimately, they go Seeking it when sent to Heaven. [First published as a Global Peace Poem Response]

Remember Only This

By the gloating rocks once its refuge, The sun wallows in scarlet rages; Glovers at the ticky-tacky cages, Who feel naught of the coming deluge From the lurching stream that knows no rest. Each ripple is a Mont Blanc unsung With snow-hunches grown out of dark grace, The cragginess of each jagged face; Burnt with … Continue reading Remember Only This

Marginal Voices

"We like marginal voices" He reassures me "Women writers and poets of every nation -" 'Marginal' voices? But that would be Over one half of the world's population. "All people of colour, handicapped, LGBT -" I look at him in some consternation. "Just who is left in your 'centre' then?" "Why - white, hetero, cisgendered … Continue reading Marginal Voices

En frappant à la porte

Mon âme a besoin de lire votre histoire Autrement, veuillez me croire Je ne serais jamais venue chez vous. Vos penchants naturels sont les plus vicieux Vos songes pourris, d’un caractère fou : Mais, une seule fois, soyez gentil, confiez-moi La recette de ce bonheur, ces transports de joie!

Chanson de la vieillesse

Deux caractères en bois Une histoire en pierre Autrement gravée en eau Un songe soupirant Une âme toujours souffrante Les transports trop beaux Reviennent souvent chez moi Me confiant à mi-voix Les penchants naturels étouffés

Bonheur frémissant

Il a un penchant naturel Pour rêves et histoires belles Les songes d’un caractère tel Qu’il n’ose ne se confier qu’à elle. Chez-elle, ces transports de l’âme Qui la font briller comme une larme Sont les biens les plus précieux de la terre Autrement plus que l’argent et l’or

Le conifère

O printemps, dis-je, la neige tua deux fois Dans le berceau tes enfants nouveau-nés Avant l'été de joie qui était leur droit Avant l'automne doré pour vieillir en beauté O printemps, dis-je, nous ne fîmes rien Pour sauver tes petits de cet assaut diluvien Mais si tu te retires, par rage et par peur Aurons-nous … Continue reading Le conifère


Songe, ma mie Songe d’une âme Qui sur le pencha nt de sa vie Brûle toujours pour toi! Songe à ses transports de chagrin À sa triste histoire sans fin Même la Fâcheuse, la perte naturelle N’aura pour l’amour un caractère réel Chez lui, ce ne sera jamais autrement … Songe, ma fille Songe à … Continue reading Songe


«Je pense, donc je suis; je rêve, donc je serai » Ah non, la liberté ne se gagne pas comme ça ! Je pense ; je suis ma volonté, mon coeur pur, Je suis ma foi, ma volonté, ma loi à moi ; Et je redeviens esclave - esclave de ma liberté, Esclave de ma … Continue reading L’esclavage

Cachez-vous mon moi!

Éclatez, les rires! Cachez les songes de mon âme! Pourrais-je suivre ces penchants naturels Raconter ces histoires belles Confier au monde ces transports D’un caractère qu’on croit si calme? Que non, ils resteront tous chez-moi! Ah non, ce ne sera jamais autrement, ma foi! Éclatez, les rires! Cachez-vous mon moi!

La liberté

Mais éclatez, les rires, éclatez! Je m’en fiche … Va-t-en, monde pourri Tes menaces ne pourront rien aujourd’hui Car je ne suis plus cette étudiante molle Je suis Fairy et je suis folle Je suis folle, donc j’en suis libre Éclatez, les rires, éclatez Éclatez, mes amis, pour que je puisse vivre !

Les soupirs d’une âme battue

Amèrement, bien amèrement Mon âme soeur, je te confie Les histoires de ma vie Les transports d’angoisse Doucement, écoute doucement Je t’en prie. Tu connais mon penchant naturel À courir après les songes? Autrement, ce sera autrement! Je te le dis J’ai chassé les rêves de chez moi N’y restent que des mensonges Oui, j’ai … Continue reading Les soupirs d’une âme battue

La chanson du bon-vivant

Laisse-moi lutter contre ces vagues Laisse-moi conter fort ces blagues Dès que j’ai un chagrin à eux cacher Je l’amènerai chez toi sans le tarder Dès que j’ai une fleur à planter Dès que j’ai une danse à chanter Je l’amènerai chez toi en bateau Je l’amènerai chez toi en cadeau Dès que j’ai un … Continue reading La chanson du bon-vivant

Le guerrier

Caractère de fer Âme de pierre Songes de l’enfer Transports ivres Histoires sans livres Chez lui sont-ils Autrement gravés Dans un penchant naturel Confié à la guerre


Lisons-le, ce livre qu’on nous confie Cette histoire remplie de chansons D’âmes vivantes, du bonheur naturel, De transports délires, de la passion D’un caractère si beau D’une tendance si belle! Chez nous, il pleut trop En lisant ces songes jolis En parlant de ceux qui suivent ses penchants Rêvons donc là où c’est bien autrement

Parle, mon âme !

Confie-moi Tes songes, tes penchants naturels Tes histoires, tes transports de joie Mon âme, abandonne ce caractère timide une fois! Soit autrement, reviens chez moi!

We Ride North, Awaken!

Set aside dull labour, set aside cold pleasure We ride for the mountains, for the evergreen treasure Ah! The call of the Lord of the Snows has come We ride North, awaken! We ride North! Set aside raiment of silk, set aside flag of white We ride for the mountains, for every man's birthright Ah! … Continue reading We Ride North, Awaken!

The Lament Of The Maiden-Daughter

O my father, why do they bear thee hence? O father, from this thy hearth and thy haven? Thou, so tall, so proud, so brave, so strong! Thou to lie still, silent, stiff upon a pallet! Thou thunderless, as they bore thee along Thou, with thy voice blood-kin to a mallet! Thou to hear unmoved … Continue reading The Lament Of The Maiden-Daughter

The Land Of The Lost

Come we will an the road is open, Come we will an the door swings ajar, The land we glimpsed longing from fens afar, Shall now be ours to make or mar! Unto the gate we shall be holpen, There with ye forever spar. Perish not, then; cry instead, 'War! War! War! ' After, the … Continue reading The Land Of The Lost

Black Roses

(First published in The Ravi 2015) I flee the jaws of Time's story As they snip me apart twig by twig Black Roses nesting In the flesh that was broken Sand sweeps in, questing Eternity's whittling me down to a sprig An Enting lost in a paper factory

Partially Permeable

A guest post by ‘The Frostbitten’ (Ibreez Shabkhez) Those who keep from them; The unsuspecting who keep, What little toil will bring. The maddening mist, In which the lumbering weep; It blindens not them. They do not dismiss, Delusions favourably deep - Entrenched in dogma. Normalisation. Moral compromise makes sheep. Desensitised! ...  

Mes jouets

Ils sont chouettes, mes jouets! Les jouets que Papa m’a apportés S’il en manque un, je ressens un vide Quand je veux mes jouets je ne suis plus timide J’ai six poupées grandes et belles Jennie, Lucie, Stéphanie, Gretel, Ariel Dont brillant si doucement les yeux Et Kokeshi, avec son chapeau joyeux Je leur enseigne … Continue reading Mes jouets

The Delirium of Daedalus

Dark spinning avius, fly into the sun Icarus, Icarus, hold! Here we come Upon the soaring black wings of life To snatch my son from the Wave To snatch my son from the grave From dancing to the eternal fife, Icarus, Icarus, hold! Here we come Dark spinning avius, fly into the sun

Mangoes for Mango People

Rising, rolling upon the wind Escaped Summer’s first breath Taloned, sweat-spiked, eagle-winged, To my cosy peace is death The serene long dark of Winter The gentle mist-mellowed cool The burning Sun shall now splinter Thy placid rest, O dreaming fool! Raisins, almonds, peanuts, farewell! Fish, I hunt ye no more! Back, snug blanket, ye blazing … Continue reading Mangoes for Mango People

The Gift Of A Friend

Dear Lord, Dear Lord, Dear Lord, Dear Lord, Give me a gift, Give me the gift, The gift of a friend Dear Lord, as Thou knowest full well My soul is full of tears I cannot ease Dear Lord, Thou that knowest the wail of Hell Grant it awhile Thy blessed peace! Dear Lord, put … Continue reading The Gift Of A Friend

I will Grow Up

A guest post by ‘Soul Less Fanwarrior’ (Savez Shabkhez) In time I'll be immune to the pain, In time I'll learn to ignore the need to say or do something. In time, I'll learn the art of ignoring someone as they talk (or text) In time, I will harden my heart to the world. In … Continue reading I will Grow Up

The Song of the Kháyin

“Glory! Great honour shall be mine! Wenestl shall be last of his dastard line! Sword unsheathed and bow taut-strung, We rest not while a Norvajael stays unhung!” Over glen and trail the quaver spread; The Ilken sought sheaths of hapless dead! Seething, as one our spirited gunari rose To take upon glittering steel their vows … Continue reading The Song of the Kháyin

Offer Him a Raise

"'Civilisation shall stand in the dock And answer for her ways! My poesie binds her The Guardian of my new age!' 'How say ye now, Sir?'" "I say, Call up the Person from Porlock And offer him a raise."

Selcouth Folly

Wrapt in the otiose aumbry of pride A glede hythe a quiff will gust aside Her folly selcouth Binds her  fast to her wanweird To speak ever sooth She is thrawn, my sister, my coëval Into fell Truth's ghyll she will smiling fall Morrow's dawnsun, rise! Drown in the throes of today! Sky dragons, melt … Continue reading Selcouth Folly

Handwriting Practice

A guest post by ‘The Frostbitten’ (Ibreez Shabkhez) The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. Bequick, names of, foxes' names: Parren, lumbardil. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The five boxing lizards jumped quickly into the water. The five boxing lizards … Continue reading Handwriting Practice

The Golden Locket

See that little girl in white With the golden locket? She is what you could be She is what you would be If I had a penny in my pocket L’artiste a son atelier Le fleuriste a son bouquet Écrivaine sans histoire Qu’est-ce que donc j’ai ?


Here we lay etched upon the grass The sun rained down in broken rays Seared to smudges,fried-onion brass The colour that will haunt our days Here we stood carved into a tree Wobbly letters at the ends of a spear Driven through a heart doomed to be The lodestone of every shattered tear Here we … Continue reading Here

Heal Me Slowly

Heal me slowly, O death, heal me slowly Leave me the day’s dying light Come for me gently in the night Heal me slowly, O death, heal me slowly Leave me a little while my pain Let me watch a sun set again Heal me slowly, O death, heal me slowly The scent of new-born … Continue reading Heal Me Slowly