The Flower

Yezan Salam

It was dark outside.  Not night dark, but the dark where no sunlight hit earth’s soil.  Thunder could be heard running through the gray clouds.  He had his back to the small remains of a wall that fought to stay standing amidst what was happening all around him.  He said a mental prayer, thanked God for life, and started to run.  “RUN RUN RUN” he thought “FASTER FASTER FASTER”.  He could hear his heart beating, he was tired, yet he only ran faster.  He heard gun shots. POW! POW! POW!  “FASTER FASTER” he thought as he held the loaf of bread closer to his chest.  “FASTER FASTER” mentally urging himself to run like never before.  More gunshot, this time though it caught him by surprise.  He flinched, stumbled across a rock, tumbled on the ground, and rolled across the dirt. He recovered from the roll on one knee and continues…

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Free-spirited Butterfly.

  

To the human eye, butterflies appear the same, but how do butterflies see humans? 

A gentle creature that floats in the wind, a vision of beauty for all to see. The morphism of a caterpillar, that ate, grew, and entered a cocoon to emerge a thing of beauty. A short-lived creature that landed against a window’s glass at angle to witness the pleasure the city views, reflecting two entangled colors. Blended. The ommatidia arranged, allowing the butterfly’s eye to simultaneously see in all directions at the same time with a mosaic of individual images that formed a whole picture. An omni-vision of blended colors forming, heat in thin air. The essence of the city witnessing their urgent lust. 

The sky is a dark, moonless ocean of midnight blues and twinkling white and yellows. There are a thousand billion stars in our galaxy. The butterfly’s painted wings were like falling petals in the gentle wind, tremulous, fragile. It’s delicate wings gaining knowledge from those glowing balls of lights and the meaning of life would become clear. The butterfly motions back to the entangled colors, moving backwards as it detects a subtle sign on a woman’s skin, a sign of commitment to freedom. The ticking of the clock and the desire’s rhythm between her legs. If the butterfly had words, it would say “Why linger? Run to your desire…”.

Desires find a way and so caused the colors embodying the lustful bodies to hover over each other flat against the window, unashamed to show the city the beauty of love, lust, and commitment to your desires. Sweltering and naked, crazed with the craving to press together their gleaming flesh. 

The eyes that meet and scream. 

The nostrils that breathe in the scent as they both become. 

The lips that long to memorize each other’s pulse. 

Voices, creasing names. 

The city, enraptured with with the soft light bending across their flesh. 

The city, witnessing their urgent lust as the butterfly flies away, a winged inspiration of beauty that flutters by leaving its magical imprint on your kernel.

Crowded Words

No, I can’t stop writing. My mind does not stop. My thoughts will never stop growing. The words are endless. Crowded.

No, I can’t stop writing. For I breathe in color and bleed in ink.

I commenced as a former writing short stories of body languages depicted from brief moments. Moments that pulled the collar of a soul’s breath. Moments that depart you to different worlds, different lives, different colors. Moments…. That I stopped writing.
I took heed to an orchestral piece of music and once it’s symphony lingered my ears, my mind, my body and soul…. My essence was never the same ever since. Lately history has indeed cast a trance into my soul that I have never imagined as a former of other likings. It has lead me to a more realistic vision of what’s happening right now. It has lead me to the pictures of my hometown that I have yearned to visit.
You see, what’s the point of imagining colors my eyes have not touched, nor has my soul breathed in its beauty residing in hidden places. Places I’m afraid it will be entirely destroyed..
I might have started as a sensual person with writing endless of intimate short stories, knowing it is nothing but fiction, yet… what will I have to lose If I weren’t sensual diversely in other matters. In matters that I genuinely love. In matters that readers might feel in something candid.

So no, I can’t stop writing. For I breathe in moments, in life, in love, and its colors.

Therapy

  
Therapy is dawn’s color painting across my room. It creates an omnipresent canvas once my eyelids part, taking on its therapeutic blend of colors.

Therapy is the intake of alleviation when the side of my body pressed against the mattress. When the side of my face pressed against the soft pillow of every overnight whisper, whine, and shuddering breaths. My body shaped in a state of tranquil like posing for an artist’s request to paint.

Therapy is the arch my body shapes and feet performs under the fallen open book. Walking undulatingly as every piece of cloth falls side to side like fallen leaves.

Therapy is the squeak sound it makes before the water rushes and embodies me like being cremated when dead. The fresh aroma filling my nostrils before it joins an another aroma. An amber-like scent foam covering my curves. The touch of the heating change of water against my flesh, sending shivers down my body like a sinner being stroked across its spine.

Therapy is the cold breeze pushing through every space inside my clothes. 

Therapy is opening the French doors as the air pushes against me like flowing curtains. 

Therapy is breathing in the brisk air, the very same air every scattered soul has inhaled. 

Therapy is the balance conquering my body as I stand there.. Ready. For everything’s better in the morning.

This is how I build you a shrine (Spoken Word)

Poignant Letters

Ever seen the white snow?
Like falling December snowflakes,
Orange marmalade and weak chai lattes
The traveller singing Rock-a-by-baby
Late night neon grocery store signs
Past midnights of patiently waiting
The wind mercilessly beating

Restlessly bleating
Drowsy dewy mornings
Family gatherings like mango peels
Soft whispers and charcoal fingerprints
Ash smitten eyes and platonic kisses
Apprehension washed over coquette.
I nod an okay
(But you know darling, this is isn’t what I wanted)
Rather – breath me like cigarettes

Call of prayer from bleeding minarets
Whirling Darwishes
Drunk on Italian wine
Occultism and the divine
(This is how my soul tears)
(This is how my soul bleeds)
(This is how my soul bares sin)
I mix blood with fresh goat skull
I dig out bones from fresh earth
(This is how I build you a shrine)

Ever seen the white snow?
It burns like the suffering of the damned
I…

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A Saint Is A Sinner Who Got Up

My mom always told me to never talk to strangers, whatsoever. However, despite all the rules and pieces of advice I grew up with, I decided to break that one, especially.

There’s something about conversing with strangers. They don’t know you and you don’t know them. Strangers are the perfect epitome to my wish of living in a country where no one knows who am I, where there are no questions asked, judgments or discrimination placed. Isolated, and totally alone with so many adventures waiting to be explored. Merely like how a bookworm resides in their favorite place, all alone with fingertips slowly exploring the spine and the cover of the book before reading it.

I always called myself “A seductress of minds”, and that term was constantly set upon strangers with stories I couldn’t wait to seduce, engulf in, and store within the inner portions of my mind. 

It’s kind of selfish, intervening something that is not my own, but I like to render something in return. I like to imprint remnants of my soul into one’s mind. Permanently and never forgotten. That’s how we both become even.

This adds up to the time I once conversed with a Dutchman who happens to be an atheist. This occurs to the line he said that haunted me for years until I surrendered to the discovery of the atheist inside myself. No, the atheist that has a hidden stationary inside the inner ramparts of my mind where it was always abandoned. The only thing my self-conscious did not realize was its intervention in everything that I do in both virtual and real life.

He said, “If you’re a Muslim, why do you sin?”

I replied, “We all sin. It’s when you shouldn’t let that sin consume you, and instead, abandon it forever by never repeating it again. Nonetheless, to pray for Allah’s forgiveness and repentance.”

He then responded, “Fair enough, but you forgot something you, Muslim women, constantly do.”

I frowned. “And that is?”

“Talking to your opposite sex that is invalid in your religion. Having commitments with men whether it’s friendship or love. You constantly sin this way because it soon might evolve into something more. Something like love that will construct you to do things you never imagined to do. Something that isn’t Halal. If it was, then that’s a different case.” He averred.

That’s the line that killed me internally to this day, where I realized, studied, and faced the ugly truth of what is stationed inside my mind. That abandoned, an ugly little drawer that has been controlling me unknowingly.

How?

I come from a very religious family. Standards and self-respect came first before anything else.

After 7 years, I am on a duel with the realization of something so awful. An assumed ‘black history’ of what my tongue has uttered, and hands have written.

This realization was that I am based of two characters. 

                  The pure and The sensual.

The pure part of myself proudly has my real name written on every paper in real life, yet the sensual part has my pen name (Shewhoquotes) written on every blank sheet of paper in virtual life.
I’ve always wondered if sinning has different deeds if done virtually.

That, though, is not the point. My chief focus of my upcoming realization is that I am partly a sensual person. My mind departs to different scenarios that I like to settle in and enjoy watching how literature, poetry, and art crash into one another with a touch of sensuality as it forges into a poetic, intimate masterpiece of compositions of writing.

I genuinely loved my other character and embraced myself for it completely with not a glint of shame or guilt because I believe what I compose is beautifully unique.

The horrifying realization of my sin wasn’t only of this, but it also wasn’t something I had to let go so easily.

A dear friend of mine told me once I confronted her about the matter is that we women are taught to be submissive. To restrain it all in. For every respectable “fit” for Arab culture female writers, there are billions who kill their talent because of the same reason what I’m thinking. We are sensual and others are not. I couldn’t agree more. I was told to bend it, to mold it, to change it as long as my touch is in it then it’s mine.

We are forced to think of the culture of عيب, because of who we are and where we were born. Was Nizar Qabbani ashamed of anything he wrote? No, for he is a man. Nevertheless, whatever pleases your conscious is yours to write.

The quantity of relief I received was eternal.

Yet again, I recall a line my Arabic Literature teacher once said. “A girl is nothing if she has no حياء. No matter what, always keep your thoughts and intentions to yourself because you might never know what that person you’re willing to share the most important part of yourself to is like or how they think or what they believe in.” That’s when another thought came by. 

                              Exposure.

Islam has strongly emphasized the concept of decency and modesty in the interaction between members of the opposite gender. Hijab is part of that overall teaching. This is not a topic about a dress code, but it is only about what inner and outer character we reveal to the public. Physical appearance does affect your overall personality, only the difference is judging what’s beyond the external painted personality. One’s external painted personality might be innocent yet what’s within their depths can be a very different place or the utter opposite. That’s the denouement of it altogether. To share an epitome towards this matter, my friend and I back in Highschool used to get up for Dhuhr prayer during or break. That was one of the things that infuriated our classmates because we’re sensual in our minds, and that is not compatible with being religious simultaneously. What?

Hijab is the most elegant style a girl can wear. Despite how I wasn’t veiled back then at a young age, I always approved of this line. And as a lady now, I’m proud of having to commit wearing one. There’s something beautiful and special of those who cover their hair. Unlike those who don’t, they never attract me.

It leaves you wondering.

It leaves the entire world wondering.

Withal, I advise as an Arab woman to never lose that moment where your physical beauty is unleashed to the unworthy. In brevity, doesn’t entail that I’m capable of speaking my thoughts boldly gives one the authority to judge who I truly am inside out. One thing I’m proud of, is I’ve never been a hypocrite to myself.

Also, I can now answer the question the Dutchman has silenced me. 

“Be wise enough not to be reckless, but brave enough to take great risks.” Frank Warren

If it weren’t for those risks, we women, wouldn’t have learned as much as we have done at present. We wouldn’t have been groomed and experienced for what’s coming next. We, as humans, are curious creatures. You can never deny that. Our curiosity is piqued to reach men mentally, simply like books on bookshelves or mesmerizing art canvases hanging on the wall with a sign next to it saying “Do not touch.” Here is when we tend to explore them. So no, I do not regret taking those risks. For it was a lesson that can be controlled wisely now.
That’s the moment where I ceased exposing myself in the eyes of the unworthy, and to wasting my time and energy conversing pointlessly of those with no outcome.

That’s the moment where I thank Allah in every prayer for having such good, caring parents who taught me the good and wrong. Who support my goals, dreams, and the things I love doing. I reckon it’s a bliss knowing the reality of this world, and what’s beneath it.

A moment before that, I found myself comparing who I am to someone repugnant in everything they do, think, and the sins they commit.

I slapped my conscious self…. For I am not comparable.

Self-Value

I am more than my temper. 

I am more than the desires you have of me. 

I am more than my impulses. 

I am more than feeding your libido. 

I am more than my sadness.

I am more than ripping my walls down to keep you warm.

I am more than dealing with an aged, faded ego. 

I am more than my heart ache. 

And I am more than my fear of never having a healthy love.