Sinking until we stand
after Andrew McMahon's Don't Speak for Me
most of you clings to the back of my eyelids,
pulsating every time the sun kisses my skin.
your grip branches into thready veins and before long,
I am the forest I have always been.
we disintegrate me, together. break branch to twig.
home to debris. wall to brick.
here, you can only blind me.
here, the fall only feels like floating.
our raft swims at high tide, driftwood slipping in
and out of help. we wait for pirates, hoping
we don't drown before our execution.
perhaps, we can sink until the sea bed
becomes the ground we walk on.
water balloons our lungs, we barely resist.
you shift between, behind, my eyes; reigning
my eyelids, shuttering them shut.
somewhere near the bottom, we remember
we've got our eyes closed.
I stitched hushed nights in blue lingerie
together with the hem of my torn
fabric hurdles for all the times we felt
alive together, for every morning
you heard my heart climax as it skipped,
slipped into our interlaced synapse,
for each relapse I allowed after blowing
into emotional confetti before your eternally
For once, don’t
scan my weathered heels
up to my laced torso. My dear sussuras,
you live inside my ears
and I tighten your vocal cords
with my aural vigour. I hear
your evanescent stay
closing in; can you
smoothen me out
with the sleepless incandescence
of a night we spent
rediscovering the human
My shoulders bear the weightless-
-ness of the narcoleptic mess I made
of this implosion. I try my best
that pictures lie and I smiled
at you too soon,
that we are better than the blues of meant
apologies and sincerities; I am just
as the echo
of your stirrup,
in your ear canal
as you slip into the expected tide
of your vowed
On Not Traveling Anymore
"You brought the rain with you, now
take it back home." Every time,
my parents took us away for a weekend,
we changed the winds in our wake.
We left behind a fight so loud, it echoed
in my dreams, nights after.
I remember thinking, "I should not alter more
than I already have." How does one tread the earth
lightly when all my ears let in was a hundred ways
to leave a mark on this world? Even when I left,
the air followed me. I carried my wrong
in breaths I was always too hesitant to take.
Accountability so terrifying, honesty oscillated
in my hand tremors. I took the monsoon back
whenever I could. I soothed its thunder
to tree rustles, limited its all-consuming rain
to secret cheeks. Its lightning to nur
in my shuffling rosary.
Now, I am static. The air is angry.
Monsoon turned to thunderstorm.
Stillness to heatwave. Now,
no one takes blame for the weather.
Bio: Orooj-e-Zafar is a storyteller/spoken word poet based in Islamabad, Pakistan. Her work explores the human condition, more specifically unabridged themes of trauma, mental health, reclamation and emotional resilience and has been widely published online in places such as Words Dance, Quail Bell Magazine, Off the Coast, Rufous City Review and Up the Staircase Quarterly. Offline, Orooj performs at local and national events like TEDx PIEAS and Islamabad Literature Festival 2017. She was also the recipient of the second annual Judith Khan Memorial Poetry Prize, the winner of Where Are You Press Manuscript Contest 2016, and the author of HOME AND OTHER DEBRIS, her debut chapbook released in July 2017.