Offering

The wrinkles at the corner of my eyes
can tell many stories.
I am old you see, very old,
older than the faded carpet I sit on.
My eyes are deep.
They contain the secrets of alchemists
and infinite horizons of dazzling colours.
Salaam
I come in peace, always in peace.
I am wrapped in the colours of the desert
and offer a cup of saffron tea
to the ones who visit me.
When it touches their lips,
it turns into wine.
I speak the universal language of the reed,
the one of a thousand smiles.
And I like to wrap each smile
very carefully in words of poetry.
I then offer them to the ones
who have embraced roses.
I know the thorns penetrated their skin,
I have my own scars.
Please accept my offering.

Kenza.


Music: Ney by Ostad Hassan Kasaie استاد حسن کسایی (Iran, 1928-2012).

The Terracotta Army

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The terracotta warriors they call them.

Yet peaceful and often smiling they stand with their topknots and shoes, and without swords.

A few rest on the ground, asleep.

What is our role in this play? To witness the greatness, the whims of an Emperor who never had any misgivings about destroying human life so that he may have a place in heaven and fight the armies of the beyond?

The beauty and calm of all the warriors – what are we to make of them? Should we make something of them?

The sheer size and details are astounding: the perfection of the eyes and the wrinkles on the foreheads of the generals, the slight bellies and pointed shoes of the mid-level officers, and the peaceful faces of the common soldiers standing erect.

They seem to be waiting as though to welcome rather than to fight. Maybe history is just a trick and what the Emperor wanted as threatening, comes to us as peaceful and silent.

Kenza.

Illustration: A photo I took at the Terracotta Army site built in 210-209 BCE, following the orders of Qin Shi Wang, First Emperor of China – Xi’an, China, June 2018.

My heart like a folded rose

My heart like a folded rose
awaits morning to unfold.
The vast garden is quiet
only the leaves sing softly with the breeze.

When the sun crosses the threshold,
a thousand rose petals sprinkle the garden path.
My heart has finally opened
revealing the treasures inside of me.

The scent of the flowers intoxicate my eyes,
my lips still carry the taste of the last kiss of the night.
All I can do is to keep on giving,
peace comes with doing harm to no one.

Kenza.

Hibakusha – 被爆者

A peace poem

Hibakusha –
atomic bomb survivor
… what a distressful epithet.

Loss
tragic loss
carbonized beings
in an urban desert.

And for so many years
discrimination
pushed aside
for being different
branded
feared
– that instinctive fear
brought on by ignorance.

Seventy three years
since Hiroshima and Nagasaki
and still
people have not learned
people fail to remember.

Still playing with missiles
as though they were match sticks.
Still trying out new ways
to kill, to inflict pain.

Big people playing
the games of little brats
for real
because they can
because we let them.

Kenza.


This short text was inspired by a recent encounter with a Hibakusha. My son and I were honoured by his presence and his words, poignant words said with utter simplicity about his experience on that day and the years that followed. We were most humbled as he encouraged everyone to work for peace, no matter the size of the gesture. The gentleman was six years old when the atomic bomb feel on Hiroshima.