Tag Archives: Arabian Gulf

Squid

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A poem presented at Colours of Life 2017 – the annual poetry festival of the Bahrain Writers’ Circle.

Now I’m not vegetarian

Nor yet pescetarian

Not even a pure carnivore

I’m an eat-everything-atarian

There’s not much that I don’t adore

When it comes to the fishes

I can devour most dishes

But there is one thing I abhor

 

It’s that strange little creature

With a tentacular feature

It’s name down my throat wouldn’t slid

Although my ol’ teacher

Demanded that I just say ‘squid’

I shuddered, I quaked, I all but flaked

I felt my life, on it was staked

“Oh, please don’t make me!” I pled

 

“Why not squid, you’re so silly,” she said              

“Er…Ummm,” I so wished I were dead

“It’s so slimy, so squiggly, so terribly wriggly.”

“Oh child, it’s just all in your head.”

“No, ‘taint.” I retorted, albeit feebly

And blanched at the thought of the squid

My face on my desk I then hid

While my breath went all wheezy’n’queasy

 

Many years soon sped by

So I thought I should try

To dine on this marine delectation

So….“I’ll have calamari,” said I

With a measure of great trepidation

Along came this dish

Of the offending fish

All battered and fried to damnation

 

But…In spite of the batter

In spite of the crunch

In spite of the fact that I’d have it for lunch

The rubbery squid, it all but did

Me in… as it stuck in my throat

I gasped, I choked, I nearly croaked

And swore once more as I had before

That I’d never again eat squid!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To view the live presentation please click here.

The Cactus Blooms

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My publisher, Ex-L-Ence Publishing has a brand new website, from which you can now purchase directly. However, if you prefer to purchase your books on Amazon, there is a link on the page to take you there too.

Here’s an extract from Desert Flower… perhaps it will tempt those who haven’t read it yet to do so.

This time I entered the majlis quietly, slipping through the archway, less than a shadow, less than a breath. My face was properly covered with the niqab drawn across it. I had pinned it in place to make sure my face would not be exposed. After all, this was a foreigner who had come to the house, not another person from the Arabian Gulf, a Khaleeji, which if it were, of course, I wouldn’t have been called. This time my black abaya shrouded my entire body. All that was exposed were my eyes. I could see that the stranger was drinking a small cup of gahwa, our thick, rich coffee, and a small piece of baklawa. The fine pastry stuffed with pistachio nuts that I had the cook make that very day lay untouched on his plate. Eihab’s mother had seen that the servant had provided that.

And now that my frantically beating heart was somewhat stilled I had my voice under control too. I inclined my head slightly in a silent salaam and raised my right hand just a little.

“Have you got your wits about you?” Father asked gruffly.

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In a Bay off old Muharraq

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This poem was submitted to Lucid Rhythms – an online magazine – and when he accepted it, that was the first time I began to hope that there were still venues that would accept ‘rhyming’ and metric poems.

I don’t know the journey that the genre has taken ever since I last studied it, but in my humble – and not so elevated opinion – any art that needs excessive analysing and interpreting and that can’t or doesn’t connect with people is somewhere missing the point.

In a bay off old Muharraq

Lies an ancient wooden Sambuk

That still goes out on moonless nights

Searching for th’ eternal light

And the master of the Sambuk

Who’s the master of that Sambuk?

A ghost, a wraith, a memory

Singing songs like Fidjeri.

 

And who is it that sits beside him?

Playing on the double hand drum?

Drumming on the mirwas lightly

While the Sambuk skips so spritely

Across the waves out to the sea

Recalling ancient memory?

Why he too is a distant past

That’s lost forever, lost alas!

 

And what is it they hope to find

Tossed along by wind and mind?

Why it’s the lulu treasured pearl

‘Durrat’ more prized than any girl.

And so the divers scythe the waves

Seeking what we all so crave

To bury hatred, soothe the pain

So we can all be one again.

 

And all who live upon this isle

Wherever he or she may come from

Join together, hug and smile

And truly say, “Salaam alaikum.”

 

Note: Fidjeri is an old Arabian Gulf/ Khaleeji pearl divers’ song, mirwas is the double handed drum that pearl divers used on their dhows (like the Sambuk) the lulu is the word for pearl in Arabic and Durrat is a particularly highly prized pearl. Muharraq is the second major island of the archipelago that constitutes the Kingdom of Bahrain. The poem is not political but expresses the desire to recreate a more friendly unified time in Bahrain. Salaam alaikum means ‘peace be upon you’.

Drinker of the Wind

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Some time ago when I was at the ad agency in Bahrain, I worked with some very talented artists and illustrators. One was Linda Strydom – who created the illustrations for Corpoetry and among so many others there was Francis Tiongsen, his brother David Tiongsen who is nothing short of amazing and many others who do so much more than computer graphics. If you check out their portfolios in the links provided you’ll know what I mean.

All that is by the by. Just thought I’d give some friends a plug!

This poem came about because Francis loved horses and at the same time we were doing a brochure for a real estate project created around the theme of horses, in particular the Arab. He’d created some captivating illustrations which then prompted this poem based on an old Bedouin legend.

DRINKER OF THE WIND

He was Erebeh, he was mystery

He was the Arab steed

And he flew across the desert sands

Chasing the storm

His hooves thundering

A warning to those who had sinned

He was the first Drinker of the Wind.

 

His mane it was midnight

His eyes were the stars

And the light from his hooves

Four galaxies that shone from afar.

One look from him, one shake of his head

And the other steeds followed

Their leader, their messenger

Who ruled the old dunes

He ran wild and free and his sinews were limned

With good honest sweat: the Drinker of the Wind.

 

Long was he hunted

Hard was he sought

And the Bedouin tribes

Over him once had fought

But his was a spirit born to be free

A being not to be broken

Nor ridden was he.

 

But legends tell us

That one wild winter night

A lone Beddu approached him

So humble, polite

And our Arab stallion pawed the hard dunes

And took unto him a mare pale as the moon

 

Then he left as he came that dark winter night

Like a vision, a dream, a mere flicker of light

Never again to be seen by mere men

For he truly was the first Drinker of the Wind.

 

Some say they saw him

Against the dawn sky

Some say they hear him,

When the wind rumbles by

But the Bedouin know

And their legends declare

The Drinker of the Wind can’t be seen anywhere

 

For he left as he came

On that wild winter night

When the sky was a mantle as dark as could be

And the wind moved the dune tides like waves on the sea.

 

No moon, not a star shone

That magical night

When the Drinker of the Wind

Disappeared from all sight

 

He flew up to the heavens

The night sky took him home

Where, as he was meant to,

He still freely roams.

 

Note: The Arabian Horse –

And God took a handful of South wind and from it formed a horse, saying: “I create thee, Oh Arabian. To thy forelock, I bind Victory in battle. On thy back, I set a rich spoil And a Treasure in thy loins. I establish thee as one of the Glories of the Earth… I give thee flight without wings.”

— Bedouin Legend

(Byford, et al. Origins of the Arabian Breed)

 

The Pearl Divers’ Songs

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Their music was so strange and distant
From hymns they sang straight to the sea
Or praises raised to mighty Allah
Those lovely songs, that fidjeri

Above the waves of Bas Ya Bahr*
The Nahhaaam raised his melody
Along with him the clappers played
The jahlah or mirwas, plaintively.
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