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Sultana Raza

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?

Crown Palace

 

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,

Of mirages

 

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

Will forever

Sift through your fingers.

 

So see through the illusions

That surround you

That trick you

Into thinking otherwise

Than who you truly are.

 

II

 

The slippery dunes that

Shift shape

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.

 

III

 

The winds that blow sand in your mind

Cluttering clear seeing

That conspire to

Replace your self-esteem

With worthlessness

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.

Be determined.

Persevere until you reach the oasis of

Calm, plenty, and beauty

Where you know that many things

Are right, and just, and true.

Perfusion

 

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,

forever weeping

at its own reflections

 

What am I?

wondered the dreamer,

as she vainly tried to

snatch at flakes of

her reve

floating carelessly by,

leaving her bereft

of her real identity.

 

Just perfumes that

got infused in her

unconscious imaginings

to remind her

of all her playmates

that had once strewn

bubbles of jasmine, lily

queen of the night

carelessly in their wake.