Poetry by Hibah Shabkhez: Gaze at the Stars, Homespun Lantern, and The Felt-Tipped Pen

GAZE AT THE STARS

Gaze at the stars and spin me a tale
Of a wish with a golden crown for a sail
For a wind a child’s sweet sobbing breath
And the heart of a dragon that knows no death

Gaze at the stars and sing me a song
Tell me I was right all along, yes, all along!
To keep a handful of courage and barter the rest
Tell me I did it all for the best, yes, for the best!

Gaze at the stars and veil them from me
With those irises deep as a nut-brown sea
Bury them deep, these clarion-bell voices
That murmur still of honour and noble choices!

Gaze at the stars and weave me a net
Cross your gossamer hair with twine and set
My weary years a maze of elusive young ways
A rest and escape for my dreary last days

Gaze at the stars and spin me a tale
Of a wish with a golden crown for a sail
For a wind a child’s sweet sobbing breath
And the heart of a dragon that knows no death

Gaze at the stars and lilt me a lay
To keep wretched reality far, far away!
Croon of the glitter of swords and of battle fey
Never of the laughing dead – so young, so gay!

Gaze at the stars and draw me a throne
Speak not to me of the splintering spine-bone
Of the nation fated to bear me aloft
Sketch instead my pennants fluttering oft!

Gaze at the stars and dream me a land
All mine, all mine, in the palm of my hand
Colour it smooth snow-white and not bright rose-red
For the colour of victory is the colour of the dead!

Gaze at the stars and spin me a tale
Of a wish with a golden crown for a sail
For a wind a child’s sweet sobbing breath
And the heart of a dragon that knows no death

Gaze at the stars and fill me a cup
With the sands of life stuff it quite up
So when old man Time says I ought to be going
I’ll contrive somehow to keep it overflowing

Gaze at the stars and brew me a lie
Sweeten the shrinking gazes that dart me by
Fix me a potion, a potent antidote
Staunch the stream of life, from birth to death devote!

Gaze at the stars and hew me a shield
A screen I may between me and myself wield
And bring back to me that hazily glimpsed hour
When the fen of this world was an innocent flower

Gaze at the stars and spin me a tale
Of a wish with a golden crown for a sail
For a wind a child’s sweet sobbing breath
And the heart of a dragon that knows no death

 

HOMESPUN LANTERN

A hope shines brightest in the dark
Light up the lanterns in a blazing arc
For hope that shines is hope that pines
And despair swells greater at every spark

Beyond the realms of human sight
There dwelt anon a crystal light
Bright as the darkness of day
It vowed unto Moonsun to stay

Upon the lighting of the world intent
Until the eternal lanterns were spent
And across the sky soared the world’s soul
Trapped in the whinny of a newborn foal

‘Oh Rose! Oh Rose!’ Quavered the Nightingale
‘Grant me a scent of thy bittersweet ale!’
‘Woulds’t rob me of it?’ ‘Aye!’ Came the reply
‘To sweeten for thee my desolate wail!’

Die, then, die, die and die again;
Cling, cling to life and die in vain!
Or live an instant of fire, an hour of desire,
Die all at once with joy in your train!

 

THE FELT-TIPPED PEN

And what, noble warrior, befell him then?
Nay, Princess, ’tis too tall a tale for the telling;
Bright day will in wonder to night turn, town into glen
The trees of legend shall stand ripe for the felling!

But what, noble warrior, befell him then?
My lady, equipped, provisioned, armed to the lip
Across the burning plain we sought him, five hundred men
And slew him, wresting back your blue pen with felt at the tip.

And what, noble warrior, befell him then?
He lay dead, Princess, as all traitors should
Though they say he went straight up to Heaven
Lay abed minus his head, for all like a piece of wood!

But what, noble warrior, befell him then?
He strolled up to Heaven’s Gate, his head in his hand
Slipped them a note, a coin, a nugget from his old den
They grinned and let him in, into Never-Neverland!

 

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 appeared online and in several literary magazines, including The Ravi and The Pen. Studying life, languages and literature from a comparative perspective across linguistic and cultural boundaries holds a particular fascination for her.

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