Worlds Above – Hour 9

She opened the bottle to let herself go
A flickering light began to glow
The firefly took off into the sky
Zooming through the air up high
She gazed into the distance
The treeline rose to prominence
The world was now below her wings
Yet it was strange
She could not stop looking at the vastness above.

No-mo-ji – Hour 8

“What does it mean when they send me lots of emojis?”
“Why do they type with so many flower emojis?”
“What does it mean?”
“What are they trying to tell me?”

Alright, listen up
I will only say this once
Emojis do not create meaning unless explicitly stated so
The other person just likes emojis
We must stop communicating in a disputed code and using language instead

Season Of The Prince – Hour 7

The sand shakes beneath his feet
The air hangs heavy in rooms graced by his presence
Power shifts across the region at the flick of his finger
His enemies shudder at the whisper of his name
Make way!
He has arrived
Thobe, sandals, beard and all
Make way for Bin Salman!

It started with an all-encompassing vision
A bright future for all Saudis, maybe even the whole Middle East
With every step he took
The chess pieces fell
One-less obstacle to stand in his way
As many uncles and cousins as he needed to toss aside
For the puzzle-pieces of his master plan to fall into place

There is a beauty in the determination of the young
But there is also a looming danger of recklessness
Did Yemen have to suffer?
Did Qatar have to be blockaded?
Did Loujain and her peers have to be tortured?
Did Khashoggi have to die?

They are not the leaders we chose
But they are the leaders we have
Sitting in their grand palace complexes
Their walls graced with works by the likes of Da Vinci
But we must trust them to look out for the frail man on the street

His presence has been felt by the world
Journalists and academics alike chant his initials like a mantra
His grimmest expressions spattered across Al Jazeera’s reports
Discussions of his legacy has turned friends into foes

Maybe, just maybe the destruction laid in his wake
Will be healed by the changes he intentionally or unwittingly set into motion
Maybe underneath the haughty façade is just a deeply flawed human being with good intentions
Or maybe greed and power trumps all

One thing’s for sure
It’s the Season of the Prince.

Promising Signs – Hour 6

The faint pitter-patter of light rain enters my ears
The first tell-tale sign of a good day
I do not wake till the sun shines bright through my eyelids
The corridor is empty
I let my skin soak under a warm shower
I don’t leave without wiping at the fogged-up mirror to find my fresh face

The trees pass by as I head to class
But first, a taste of sweet, milky, toasty-warm tea
That’s when I’m ready
My rear-end lands on that familiar seat in the room
Surrounded by the same smiling faces and laughs
My ears focus on the sound of Dr Jatswan imparting his wisdom upon us
Taking us across the globe, back and forward in time
Like getting an adrenaline rush from all the learning

The sun burns hot in the sky
Something I appreciate more now
The whirring-past of the train rings through my ears
I watch as the city flies by me
Occasional exchanges with strange eyes
Teasing stories I will never know

Loud meows greet me before even opening the door
The keys jangle as I reach for them in my bag
The comforting smells of home invite me in
I close my eyes as my bed wraps around me

I wake again to the sound of a warm voice
The voice that greeted me into this world
Higher and gentler than mine
But clearer and stronger
The gaze from her round eyes give me a sense of security
My home is complete now

The kitchen is alive with my movements
The air smells good enough to eat
Dishes prepared by my own hand
Good enough to fill my own heart
That’s when I am satisfied

The night falls
My Lord calls
The silence beckons
The prayer mat spread on the floor
Aimed straight for Mecca
My forehead touches the ground
And that is where I found
My truest self
In conversation with God
When my mind clears
There are no more fears
Only purpose and understanding
Tomorrow is promising
To be the ideal day.

I Thought It Would Be Pretty – Hour 5

The movies promised it would be pretty
Reds, yellows and oranges would colour the scenery
Leaves would glitter the floor
And crunch satisfyingly under my feet
I don’t know why, but I thought apples would be involved

I didn’t believe them when they told me
The Autumn would be bleak
But it certainly was
Sure, there were reds, yellows and oranges at first
But nothing looked pretty under the heavy grey sky
The leaves did not crunch when they were perpetually soaked wet by rain
The wind so cold it pierced my soul
The sun was nowhere to be found
I found out seasonal depression is a real thing
Considering no one wants to be out and about
To think the weather could suck out so much life from a city

I enjoyed myself though
The novelty of my first Autumn in the North
A gloomy day meant I was experiencing life as a Swede
And more stories to share with my audience
Back home in the tropics.

To My Grandmother – Hour 4

Hej Farmor
I miss you
Though I barely knew you
We barely spoke
Because of the language barrier
But I knew you loved me
And I loved you.

I want you to know
That I can speak Swedish now
Nine-years too late perhaps
But you’re always on my mind when I study Swedish
I wish I had understood the stories of your life
From your own words
Not from inherited family photos
Not from the tales your brother told
I wish I had just one conversation with you
Though I guess it’s normal for young children to take their grandparents for granted

You are still in our thoughts
I can tell that my mother and father miss you
When they talk about the past
The gifts that you gave
Are still part of our lives
The marks you left remain
Till the day we meet again.

My Feelings Are A Joke To Me – Hour 3

Met myself a cute boy
His beauty hit me like a train
Hair flowed gloriously in the wind
Skin glowed bright and pearly in the sun
Voice almost spoke to my soul
His smile shined through the dark

You made heartache fun.

Never been one to take the first step
I wouldn’t even know what to do
Yet somehow because of you
I am compelled
I must do what I have to do
You inspire such excitement in me
Such dilemma such chaos internally
Yet it gives me peace of mind to know how much I am into you.

You made heartache fun.

So I chased after you
I related to your story
I complimented you at every opportunity
I asked you for a selfie
Still you were shy maybe, taken even, extremely responsible in how you interacted with me
So I wailed to myself for half a year wishing I had not put myself through this agony

You made heartache fun.

A Great Quarantine Night – Hour 2

Warm Milo
In my favourite white mug
Just enough milk and Milo powder
Place it on my pretty wooden coaster

Softest pyjamas
Cotton caressing my skin
With pretty floral patterns
Like walking in a blanket

On the other end of a Skype call
Aisha, Tarin, Tasnim and all
The best company a click away

Old movie
To take me back to a nostalgic time
A chance to live in a different world
A classic tale to pass the hours

No responsibilities
Unemployment has its perks
Too much free time on my hands
Anxiety-free and relaxed

Cosiness inside and out
Mind body and soul
Ingredients to my recipe for
A great quarantine-night.

Nazha Khalidi – Hour 1

Born in an open-air prison
Raised with no freedom under oppression
Her people calling out for liberation
They fight with cameras
Recording violations
For the world to see
To hear
Their story
She is Sahrawi.

I met her in Europe
Demanding justice from the powerful
It was her activism that got Moroccans shook-up
Arrested for streaming live on the streets
She is attractive, fearless, and commands a room with her voice
To them, good traits on the wrong woman

You are an interesting person
When I first heard your story
I didn’t expect to be helping you sneak around to secretly smoke
Holding up a scarf at what we thought might be a smoke alarm in the toilet
I didn’t expect to be introduced to your fiancé
The Sahrawi human rights-defending power couple
To be treated to lunch by both of you

Your greatest heroes are ordinary people too
Or perhaps, rather
Ordinary people can be great heroes too
Thank you, Nazha Khalidi

Hello there!

I’m Nadine from Malaysia and this is my first poetry marathon. I’ll be going for the 24-hours with my best friend who’s in Pakistan and hopefully we’ll be keeping each other awake. I started writing poems when I my mother bought me a narrow rectangular-shaped notebook at around nine-years-old, and since then I have written very occasionally (less than twice a year), so this marathon will certainly help me beef-up my collection. I can’t say anything for sure, but expect some poems about love, politics and prayer! I will be starting at 9pm here and the last time I pulled an all-nighter was when I was finishing up writing my thesis a year ago, so this should be interesting!

Wishing all the best to all the participants this year and I’ll see you tomorrow!