Ashraf

A young man called Ashraf Fayadh faces execution by the Saudi Arabian government for ‘apostasy’. Ashraf is a poet and atheist. It is his views on religion that has put his life in danger.

Tonight poets around the world come together to speak on his behalf. To share our poems in solidarity. Here is my contribution.

 

Ashraf

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

Clearly no one told Saudi

How can we be afraid of just words

Words well thought fly like birds

And we just have to keep tweeting

Tumbling

Sharing

Swearing

There’s nothing more validly strong

Nothing that could be less wrong

Than speaking words.

We humans are the storytelling mammals

But here we are acting like anmals

What are we doing?

Ashraf.

Daphne

(Listen to Reading of Daphne Here)

Babe.

As you break in the arms

Of an auntie to be tethered to

With cottonwool thoughts

In no language that can be taught

So rocking that ‘just out of womb’ hair.

Stretching like a cat without claws

Surfacing from hibernation.

Into our world of autumnal flakiness.

Darling

They put the clocks back a whole hour

Just to give us more time

To hold your head and mumbling heart.

Child.

Sleeping in the warm

Your eventual exiting lacking elegancy.

Rocking from abstract to realism

In the blink of an eye.

Girl.

You see in black and white and blur

But in the taking of a breath

Your legs set into hips

Daddy builds a turret to tuck you in,

To keep you safe

At night.

Ball games,

Bus lanes,

Veins.

Adding pages to the map

As skin grows to cover a woman’s frame.

Melting Mummy’s heart every day.

Latched into the world with love.

Lovely little lady.

Daphne.

But Freedom Beat The Fear

Freedom is cold air,

Long nights,

And rain on the clothesline.

It’s swimming in the pool:

Pretending I think I’m cool.

It’s sore throats and a berocca.

Going to the sales,

Even though it’s chocka.

Strange places,

With ex strangers.

And coffee,

And kissing,

And drinking,

And singing,

And chatting,

And thinking.

Becoming bolder.

Shrugging a shoulder.

It’s:

This. Is. Me.

I. Will. Be.

You. Will. See.

I never found my lifeguard.

But tomorrow is my bankcard.

Yesterday was time well killed.

Forever is a notebook to be filled-

Meanwhile I’ll just scoff pick and mix,

And smile at the world…

Which is quite significantly full of dicks…

But:

DONT STOP ME NOW

I sit.

I laugh.

I dance.

Because once upon a chance.

I didn’t think I would get here.

But it looks like freedom beat the fear.

 

An Ashtray in Pompeii

You are tentative with your words
As if I am made of butterscotch and bite.
Like you are building
Straw houses in Haiti,
And you aren’t quite sure
If time repeats itself to me.

So I will try not to smile because I know
that my history with the past is recurrent.
I try everyday to sneak and creep,
hoping it won’t spot my silver linings,
But the monster never seems to sleep.

But one day we will try and forget.
Sit and bask in the light.
And play Bach in our bus shelters
And build those houses,
In this heritage site I paid the price for.
And we will see the irony
When we can simply be
As we place an ash tray in Pompeii.
Because we’d buried the past that day.

Those words were my ashtray in Pompeii.

To Kill A Mockingbird – The Man

The Man
He polished his shoes
Before he came
He felt threatened
By the nerds
With their dungeons
And their dragons
Down the stairs.

His daughter told him to come,
Because lately he’s been missing Mum.
His shoes squeaked during the film.
He carries coffee, milky, in a tiny thermos kiln.
He’s surrounded by no. 7 faced women.
Picking at him like partnerless peacocks.
And as the daylight is dimming
He thinks he better be off…
Everyday he misses his mockingbird.