Hibah Shabkhez

Country names are odd little sounds when strained
Through the meshes of a many-langue mix;
Sing a pore. Through sun-born trickles of sweat
Or via the skin’s rapture when it rained?
Pak is tan – Pure is brown – How did that fix
Our taan upon self-loathing and regret?

And so, I ran, but whither? To La os,
To whence they bring bones? To Iceland, green still,
Or to Greenland capped in dwindling ice?
To the Mali for a Malta, for floss
To soothe the Cry-mania of the Hill
Bound to Greyhound John by a Thigh-land splice?

Cam, a bodi, a beckoning aa,
Strewn with child-corpses on a move-ey screen,
A land on a Fin, another of Ire
One of Po, one of never Kenning ya
For yourself in a Newsafrica seen
Drowning in disease and elf-set fire.

About the Author

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 the Rockford Review, Qwerty, The Blue Nib, Ligeia, Cordite Poetry, Headway Quarterly 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.