Long, White Thawbs
I half expected Snowy to come running out
from under some flapping curtains, or from behind a bench,
or even to be sitting in an open suitcase on the luggage belt,
Waiting to be claimed by Tintin.
Yet, neither the young reporter from Brussels ran
Diagonally across the Arrivals Terminal,
Nor did Captain Haddock swing around in a chair,
Holding an unlit cigar, and neither did
Any Thom(p)sons trip over anyone’s long golf case.
Just the white, ultra-clean thawbs kept swishing along long corridors.
Many more varieties of ghutras and egals than in comic books.
Were there any villains like Muller in Herge’s stories?
I got the impression most men didn’t have time to play the role of bad guys
As they tried hard not to glance at women, hurrying on their way to
Pushing their profits through the roof of the Stock Exchange,
Or to cash in the cheques given by their foreign partners.
The hot wind slapped me, as it whistled past,
In Land of Black Gold, how long will you last?
Out of the mists, it comes floating
here a minaret, there a perfect cupola,
proudly silent, as it drifts,
lost in time and place,
dropped from the crystal city
of gentle sultans, ethereal houris
With their gauzy, shimmering
silks, pashminas and organzas
bedecked with rubies, emeralds
multi-hued crystals, competing for
brilliance with their ardent eyes
refined gestures, artistic fingers
silver-bell laughter, scimitar-sharp minds
Whose love miraculously crystallized
into a translucent dream
built on pure and noble lines
That the wind loves to caress
as it carries away it sighs,
while branches nod in sympathy
The sun does its best to cheer it up,
warms its heart, melts away its tears
the night nurtures, by hiding
all traces of an unfamiliar landscape
But the mysterious moon
with its tempting glow,
encourages it to give into nostalgia,
dream of the silver city
where it was one among its brothers
not alone in its uniqueness
as here, on this planet…
The stars, not to be outdone,
cover it with their shimmering mantle
as one by one, with twinkles and winks
they recount in its own language,
a fresh story from its home,
their brightest brother, and whisper
that they are just a light year away,
as it sits in patient splendour,
waiting to go home.
Of Indian origin, Sultana Raza’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Columbia Journal, The New Verse News, London Grip, Classical Poetry Society, spillwords, Poetry24, Dissident Voice, and The Peacock Journal. Her fiction has received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train Review, and has been published in Coldnoon Journal, Szirine, apertura, Entropy, and ensemble (in French). She has read her fiction/poems in India, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, England, Ireland, the US, and at CoNZealand
Shifting Desert Dunes
As you walk through the desert
Thirsty for knowledge
Thirsty for the nectar of truth
Forget not, O wanderer
That this is a desert of illusions,
Where things that seem near are forever faraway.
And visions of oases that seem far
Can suddenly appear to be near.
It all depends on your vision
On your perception, O wanderer.
As long as you believe
In the illusions
The tricks that keep you craving,
That keep you running
After material satisfaction
Through the sands of time
Sift through your fingers.
So see through the illusions
That surround you
That trick you
Into thinking otherwise
Than who you truly are.
The slippery dunes that
As soon as you near your destination
That lead you astray
Far from your destined path
Into the valley of ignorance and suffering
Will you willingly follow
The beguiling lights
Of winking lanterns
That promise deliverance
Yet hand you neatly over
To a lifetime of cravings
That cannot be fulfilled
By any material substance.
The winds that blow sand in your mind
Cluttering clear seeing
That conspire to
Replace your self-esteem
Robbing you of your rightful heritage of truth.
Though the sand may shift,
The wind may blow
Mirages appear, disappear
Then re-appear further on,
Find your way, O wanderer
Through the compass of your heart.
Before it’s too late,
Before you sink into the quick sands
Of guilt and regret.
Persevere until you reach the oasis of
Calm, plenty, and beauty
Where you know that many things
Are right, and just, and true.
Some fragments were fragrant with saffron,
others reminiscent of rose.
Lavender cried unshed tears wistfully,
while willow had long ceased to emit
a pleasant scent,
as it hung its head in shame.
Guilt? Nostalgia? For what?
Perhaps some secret deed it had done,
or not committed,
when it had been female.
Long before it fueled the
seeds of trees that grow by waters,
at its own reflections
What am I?
wondered the dreamer,
as she vainly tried to
snatch at flakes of
floating carelessly by,
leaving her bereft
of her real identity.
Just perfumes that
got infused in her
to remind her
of all her playmates
that had once strewn
bubbles of jasmine, lily
queen of the night
carelessly in their wake.