Poetry: Water Under The Bridge by Hibah Shabkhez

Fevers of the Mind

Water Under The Bridge

I looked away, and Time did steal A sliver of my home; Licked it off like a mud-sauce streak From a sea’s drying foam. ‘You owe me water,’ said the dam To the river. ‘My dish Body cracks, dries to a mud-jam Of dead and dying fish.’ ‘Thief,’ said the river, ‘you have leached And stagnated eaux Destined for my rock-bones, now bleached And withered in their woe.’ Time flowed past us, its zeal unworn And scooped up homes amain; Scattered its birds like popping corn On the floor of my brain. Bio: 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 Fevers of the Mind, Black Bough, Zin Daily, London Grip, The Madrigal, Acropolis Journal, Lucent Dreaming, and a number of other literary magazines. Studying life…

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Come One, Come All

Fevers of the Mind

Come One, Come All


To Señor Örümcek’s Human Circus

Greatest Show On Earth!

Wholesome Fun for the Whole Family!

Sunday, September 5

“It’s silly to be afraid of an insect,” said a deep man-voice from behind the door.

“Ooh, a newbie!” said Hava Fare to his brother, craning his neck to see over the rows in front. “I love it when they have a newbie.”

“You don’t understand!” said Hava and Atesh together, at the same time as a woman-voice behind the door.

“She always says that,” scowled Toprak Fare, sticking her ear-buds back in.

“I’m going in now,” said the man-voice.

“Well, I think it’s cruel to torment the poor creatures,” said Su Fare.

“Don’t cry, Su. They’d kill us in a cat’s pounce if they could,” said Hava. “Here, have some water.” He put his arm around her but kept his eyes on the…

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Poetry Showcase from Hibah Shabkhez

Fevers of the Mind

Know, Please, That We Know Nothing

Before your just-shrouded head, in the first
Numb hours, the brain's pencils are already
Out, sharpened and scribbling. Straining to burst,
   Finding itself sewn into words instead,
Her heart, which would fain break in peace and thirst
Until obliterated, curses them
   For doing so.

Her mouth twists and barks, drawn by self-contempt  
   Into a crooked sneer. Self-written all, 
To our own secret shame, we must attempt
As we watch, to not understand this dread
We know, to not see why she is laughing
And bidding your still, shrouded head
   Turn and laugh too.

  Reason Enough Why is happiness not reason enough For the doing of things? Because the tough, The dreary, the harder-to-do we deem More worth our while. Because we cannot seem To be made of quickly soaked, shallow stuff Like tissue paper. So we must be gruff, Leatherly, even to our own…

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“Gift”, by Hibah Shabkhez



My six new soup-bowls line her shelf    
each with a lacy leaf and rose
that cringes from the seventh's scowl
from the memories it dredges
out of the misting past

Resolute to the last
at my remonstrances she smiles
like a hollowed-out egg, and goes
on eating in the cracked old bowl 
chipping gently at the edges

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 Plainsongs, Microverses, Sylvia Magazine, Better Than Starbucks, Post, Wine Cellar Press, 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.

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/HibahShabkhez

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Wilder Literature

promise. you smile as i mumble of green horses, my eyes wandering and lustreless. i see them as i have not seen them since the days when i could still laugh.

one green rose sings in the meadow, and the green magpie cocks its puzzled head at me as i fling it a glimmering gold ring. you have haunted me for five and seventy years; now i shall haunt you. promise.

i promise to haunt, terrorise and mentally flay you, till undeath do us part.

like the burn on the table-cloth the vase never quite hides, i shall crawl into your consciousness at odd, unguarded moments, and you shall flail and gibber.

they will think you mad with grief at my passing, you who are cradling the lucent vial of poison-nightshade against your heart as you glide smiling into my chamber. bella donna. how fitting.

i was a bella donna…

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this is not who we are

Wilder Literature

ears that heard rustling foil, mouth that gloried
in the soft sweet silk resting upon it,
i exonerate you both. these storied
squiggles that frolic on the dimly-lit
screen, imprisoned these poor eyes, and lead
these limp, erring hands inexorably

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 plainsongs, microverses, sylvia magazine, better than starbucks, post, wine cellar press, and several other literary magazines.

studying life, languages, and literature from a comparative perspective across linguistic and cultural boundaries holds a particular fascination for her.

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Juliet and Her Romeo

‘Three whales do make a school,’ said Cidybaum. ‘We are Mysticetti, daughter. One of us is worth a dozen Odontoceti.’ ‘I prefer us to be “herd”, anyway,’ said Reldnahce, and Meirrow groaned. 'Not just seen. Perhaps then we would be spared, not speared. Or we could be a shiver?’ ‘We do not speak of sharks … Continue reading Juliet and Her Romeo

A Poetry Showcase by Hibah Shabkhez

Fevers of the Mind

photo by Zoe (unsplash)

Articulate Sashes

Spurred by a long night's rasping breath
  Window-sashes flutter the call
To arms, songs of glory and death
The world answers. Shadows grow tall
About the unsleeping head that lies
  Untranquil in the mist.

Patches of moon-cut darkness scan
  Its stark eyes for ways to set free
The flightless bird under the ban 
Of ice, the joy its frozen sea
Still holds close. Mosquitoes become flies
  Flies demons, in the mist.

Each dawn's grey-coated light must mourn
  A loss: the beauty of the night
It slew. Each Joy bears an ice-thorn
Thrust by the axed sea which will fight 
Life to lure it back, unless it dies
  Or dissolves in the mist.

Dissertation I am crawling through the maze in the mud On three limbs, hauling a square lead orange Up rocky slopes. It laps up the blood And erases the traces of my…

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Y U Like Dis

"We do have one reservation," The voice, hitherto mellifluous behind the smile the 'still buffering' loopy arrow had blurred to a snarl, crispened suddenly, and I straightened up. "During a quick glance through your Facebook activity – standard company procedure, nothing personal – our psychoanalysts found a disturbing number of memes about drinking at work. … Continue reading Y U Like Dis

Egg-And-Butter Sandwiches

Your cousin is boiling alphabet pasta for her children. “You used to tease your Mom to make egg-and-butter sandwich-stars? Remember?” “She always said it was a waste of bread.” Your cousin’s smile fades. When you wake up, you see a plate. With an egg-and-butter sandwich-star on it.

Two In The Bush

Eunoia Review

A bird in hand is worth two in the bush
A bush in hand is worth a chair
And a chair is worth a hack and a push
To plant it a house new and fair

So they sang, the first of the axe-wielders
And we said nothing, though the birds
Told us of their woes. But now your chippers
Take a hundred bushes for words

And worlds we do not know. The culled starlings
Taught us dread. Leave us as before –
One bird each in hand to give our feet wings
And two in the bush to yearn for.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Finished Creatures.

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 Bandit Fiction, Shot Glass Journal, Across the…

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La mer ronge le soleil couchant     Alors que je vous dévore,O mon beau gâteau, o mon croissantChéri. Pâtisserivore,     Je lance notre défi au ciel,Coudes plantés sur le sable. Une cicatrice dans la nuitL'auguste lune se dresse,     Outrée par nous. Le soleil s'enfuit ;Avec fougue et allégresseElle tire son ciel du néant     Pour un fol instant de gloire De son … Continue reading Jouissance


“I'll wedge between the digits and pinch the web. When he squirms, I'll blister him!”“That’s a bit extreme?”“He went for a run when he knew I was fraying. I ripped open, he went on running. Torn as I was” Sock gulped. “He hung me out to dry!”

Buy Me A Magic Mirror

“If Your Majesty alludes to Judges, I would say Shoe String, or perhaps Cold Pipes. If we speak of complexions, the snowman your step-daughter and her friends have built would appear to be – oh dear, the young ladies have had a falling-out, and our erstwhile pristine friend is much bespattered. If beauty be your … Continue reading Buy Me A Magic Mirror


‘Older people are quite likely to become xanthodontous even if they do brush their teeth.’ This observation, muffled by a phone-and-hair shield, left me a little nonplussed, until I realized it needed no response because it asked nothing of me, but was simply so many words shared, like waves of the pine air-freshener sprayed liberally … Continue reading Xanthodontous

Zombies, Bring It On by Hibah Shabkhez

via ZOMBIES, BRING IT ON by Hibah Shabkhez

Jotted Down What I Heard Me Saying, And…

Rejection Letters

“This metaphor in the third poem is amazing, and the last line – gut-punch! Should we shortlist it?”

“This is an experimental poetry magazine and that frigging rhymes. No.”

“So we …”

“So we send a rejection.”

Dear Numpty L—-,

Thank you for your submission. While we appreciate the chance to read your work, we regret that we are unable to accept it for publication. You’re really good, but did you have to rhyme, like, every second line? It does say ‘experimental’ and ‘avant-garde’ in the guidelines, you know.

We wish you the best of luck finding homes for these poems!


Y– S—


“Onto the next one… Okay, this is pretty experimental. Good too.”

“Yes … But the writer lives in X–. This is a print magazine with no budget and that’s half-way around the world.”

“So … Okay, yeah, got it.”

Dear Writer who lives in a…

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Last night when climbing the stairs in the dark, I slipped, hit my face against a wall, and bruised it. Bruised it with a thick black wedge like a blueberry cheesecake slice right above the left cheekbone. I winced and swore but thought no more of it: when you live alone your dreams are not disturbed just because an idiot of a wall decides to slash your face. Until I reached the metro station this morning, and it suddenly became my new visual identity card.

Here I am, beskirted and bescarved, brown-skinned and Muslim, humming Kashmiri ballads with a bruise on my face. Until the silence starts to strangle the words in my throat. In every eye that I encounter or that flies mine sheepishly, I begin to see something new. Pity. Sympathy. Outrage. Derision. Shame. Disgust … ‘Husband? Father? Brother?’ I can read the questions – and the answers…

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Nestling by Hibah Shabkhez



She scanned the ground, shaking her head to unblur her eyes. Slitheries or crunchems? He would eat the slitheries if she took him those, but she knew it was the crunchems he loved. So it was the crunchems she hopped towards, even though he was so difficult to fill up on them. It was the first time they had hatched only one egg, and the gawky creature who had emerged was utterly unlike any of their older slender-winged families. They had mourned the inexplicable smashing of the other eggs, but once he hatched they were too busy to remember them very often, except for the occasional pang when they saw other new parents with a full nest.

But they were so very proud of him too, their big strong boy with a voice like a trumpet, not the feeble cheeping of the Daffensy children or the thin treble of the…

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The Fall

Hrothgar Valinaryon was a bit of a jerk. From the first it was evident to the canny that the fall of the House of Valinaryon was at hand. The new King was neither properly cruel nor respectably dissipated. In defiance of all precedent, he would hold none of the dusk to dawn orgies that had … Continue reading The Fall

The Unceasing Plaint of The Sea

Ash-grey shafts shot out of the cliff rock, racing into the embrace of the clouds. Stone sewn seamlessly to stone, the jagged steely glitter spiralled thrice, curtaining a little piece of the earth from the hungry sea. The chain of craggy cliffs slung out along the wavering shoreline, their hoary heads held high in defiance … Continue reading The Unceasing Plaint of The Sea

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Once upon a time there was a shepherd boy who spent his days sitting on a hillside watching the village sheep. One day, he saw a wolf, and instantly he began to yell "A Wolf! Help! A Wolf is chasing the sheep! Hellllppp!" The villagers came running, armed with sticks and axes, and drove the … Continue reading The Boy Who Cried Wolf

The Rebellion of Conallan Virai

King Wenestl was a short, stout, ruddy-faced man – a caricature of a middle-aged merchant. All praised his munificence and graciousness, his wisdom and strength; did everything, in short, to keep him in a gift-bestowing land-granting mood instead of a banishing and boiling-in-oil tantrum. But eventually someone would lose his cool, and then there’d be … Continue reading The Rebellion of Conallan Virai

A Stupid Mistake

(Based on a true story) Farya’s parents were the coolest in the whole world. Her Papa had a Dumbledore-beard, and her Mama wore a long black robe just like the Hogwarts uniform. Her only regret was the pointy wizard hat. Mama had bought Farya a black one for her last birthday that became pink when … Continue reading A Stupid Mistake

Ashes of Roses

“Only one thing can heal me,” She said. “I must change what I did.” “Ask me for another gift,” I said. “I can give you a new life far from here, with no memory of the demon that haunts you.” “That would be another lie!” “Pray then for a repentant heart, and peace will come … Continue reading Ashes of Roses

A White Lie

“The King signed it!” He was beaming at me with the fierce tenderness that always set me alight, like the morning sea glowing in the warmth of the sun. “Look!” Gingerly I took the scroll from him, and traced the beautifully inked markings with my finger. I could not yet read whole words, only the … Continue reading A White Lie

A New Life

“The Science agenda for the month states,” Mrs Hassan frowned at the circular. “That you have to teach Plants, Magnets and Electricity. You barely finished Plants.” “Well, you see, they were interested in photosynthesis, so –” “The English agenda,” continued Mrs Hassan. “Required you to complete Chapters Five, Six and Seven. You failed to do … Continue reading A New Life

A Proper Confession

“You know me as a hunter,” began Mr Fox “a warrior, a leader among fox-kind … But – alas! It was not always so. There was a time when –” Who shall blame him if his voice faltered to confess it? “I became a Subject of Mockery – at the hands of Poultry!” Poultry! It … Continue reading A Proper Confession

Until There Was Nothing Left To Cut

Slowly, lock by tumbling lock, she let her hair glide down her shoulders. Rich, black, mane-like, it snuck its snarly bristles into her bare chest and into the raw shin of her back. Inside the locked, shuttered, mirrorless store-room, with shrouded caskets on every side of her, she shrank still, shrank instinctively within herself as … Continue reading Until There Was Nothing Left To Cut


The rich, ripe corn spilled out of its austere sheaves, the bright yellow cobs brushing gently along the shoulders of all who trod the narrow cart-road. They stretched away to the Eyrlyndyne in a myriad waving, whispering rows, simmering green and glorious gold. Scare-crows leered in vain. Upon their straw-heads, their stick-arms, their stump-legs - … Continue reading Winter


Once upon a time there was a girl. She went one day to the sea, as she had gone since babyhood, wriggling her bare toes in the sand, revelling in the wind and spray that whirled her tangled curls into a frothing, frenzied cloak. Then she saw the shells. She saw them as she had … Continue reading Shells

The Desert River

Chafing at its narrow levees, smashing upon and barging through stone, the Valuné leapt into the Cundrie Hills, easing out as the land softened. Lithe despite its bulk, humming, it inundated the dips and basins cradled between eternally verdant hills, crooning to them of beauty and splendour beyond the wildest swish of their most wilful … Continue reading The Desert River

Le Secret de la Vie

Comme je suis la sœur aînée d’une famille nombreuse, mon dix-huitième anniversaire a été un événement assez important pour tous. Lorsque la fête s’est terminée, on m’a dit: «Tu es maintenant une femme. Alors, dis, que veux-tu faire dans la vie?» «Mais elle a de la chance!» pensez-vous sans doute. «Voila une famille vraiment aimable … Continue reading Le Secret de la Vie

The Cross Monkey

Once upon a time there was a monkey who got cross very easily. One day it got so very very cross it went poppity-bang in a puff of smoke and flew right out of the chimney. Up in the sky a cloud caught up the puff and tied it around itself as a  silver lining. … Continue reading The Cross Monkey

A Table for Two

Once upon a time there was a lonely little cottage on the bleakest mountaintop in the whole world. Inside this cottage lived a lonely little wolf.  She always set the table for two and kept a freshly trimmed lamp in the window after sunset. But no one ever came to see her. This made her … Continue reading A Table for Two

The Vanishing Monkey

(A guest post by Maiza Shabkhez) There was a little yellow cottage on a hill, inside which lived a little brown monkey. He loved to go and tease people here and there, so they got annoyed. One day he threw a stone at a very large and grumpy bear. The bear got angry and ran … Continue reading The Vanishing Monkey

On the other side of the fence

The ridge curves sharply, imperiously into a beak, belying the simmering tranquility of the two pale lakes on either side of it, of the smooth snowy plains below, matching only the starkly jutting plateau of chin that completes my impression of a nature eternally at war with itself. Short, scuttling, plump, with long brown hair … Continue reading On the other side of the fence

Pour devenir professeur de français

Une jeune fille pakistanaise vient à la réception pour demander des cours privés de français. La réceptionniste : Est-ce que vous avez déjà étudié le français ? La fille : Je regarde beaucoup de films français, donc j’y connais déjà quelque chose, n’est-ce pas ? La réceptionniste : Bien, d’accord ... La fille : Qui … Continue reading Pour devenir professeur de français

The Purple Moon

Ausania didn’t know if it was a wonderful sign or a sign of disaster, but Ausania knew a purple moon when she saw one. And this moon was as cheerfully and blatantly purple as – well, as everything! The walls were purple, the bedspread around her a deep magenta, the bars on the window slicing … Continue reading The Purple Moon

The Dreams of a Young Girl

Sleek and lithe, she bounded forward, the slanting feline eyes glowing like emeralds against the silken darkness of her glossy black fur. Her razor-sharp teeth glinted in the moonlight, but the cruelly curved claws were sheathed, and the padded paws fell steadily and harmoniously on the murmuring grasses. She ran on into the silence, the … Continue reading The Dreams of a Young Girl

The Adventures of the Chunaché Family

Here we shall write the adventures of the Chunaché Family, being composed at this date of Kyunké, Halanké and Goyaké Chunaché. They descended into the Faevelt by night, in a hired ox-cart, and settled in the little tile-roofed cottage at the end of the winding path that leads upward from Zéloc Vale. Who were they, … Continue reading The Adventures of the Chunaché Family