Tuesday 31 December 2013


So this is morning,
this grey wetness?

The Christmas lights
stay on all night
and the clocks
tick in the new year.

The willow looks ancient
this morning
Each leaf paid for in full;
Spring seems a long way
from calling
these weeping brown strings
her home.

Will the world look different
Will the earth be greener?
Will love be truer?
Will I find my way

(c) Shaista, 2013

Wednesday 25 December 2013


Do you remember when I wrote about my poems being worked into glass by a glassworks artist? The person who suggested my name was a poet herself, living and writing in Oxford - Dorothy sent me the poem below as a Christmas greeting. It's so lovely I know she won't mind me sharing it with all of you...

Rolling a snowball
Utagawa Kuniteru (c.1830-70)

Snow rabbit

Why always snow men?
Why the A, the B, the C of snow?
Round the corner
someone is building an enormous rabbit,
funnelling its ears,
poking in twigs for whiskers,
and clearing a patch
of grass in front of its nose.       

Outside the King’s Arms
they’ve stacked up a snow giraffe,
and the lake in the park is full
of the dangerous whiteness of swans
beautifully sculpted on thin ice,

down to the last letter.

© Dorothy Mccarthy

Carl Larsson (1890-1919)
In Singapore, my brother and sister are witnessing the falling in love of a new generation with the old magic of Christmas… snow in Singapore!!
Elaborate mangers…

And Santa too, no doubt, bursting in with his reindeers to a soundtrack of Walt Disney's Fantasia… I shall be contented this Christmas Day, imagining Rafi's excitement, and eat my Christmas cookies, baked by a loving friend, with gusto…


Tuesday 24 December 2013


The wind is a howlin' tonight and although snow might not greet me tomorrow morning, I wonder how the trees will fare… this year I don't feel properly Christmassy (whatever that ought to feel like when you are no longer a child and the news confronts us with climate change and animal welfare and human rights horrors), and it was only when my beloved friend Mary sent me the poem below, that I felt a little comfort…


       This was the moment when Before
       Turned into After, and the future's
       Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.
       This was the moment when nothing
       Happened. Only dull peace
       Sprawled boringly over the earth

       This was the moment when even energetic Romans
       Could find nothing better to do
       Than counting heads in remote provinces
       And this was the moment
       When a few farm workers and three
       Members of an obscure Persian sect
       Walked haphazard by starlight straight
       Into the kingdom of heaven

                                                      U. A. Fanthorpe

This was the year of the death of a great leader, and in my smaller world, births of a future. Christmas was meant to be about birth and those three members belonged to my people's obscure Persian sect - truly obscure, because nobody ever seems to know the Three Wise Men were Zoroastrians! I like to think of those obscure gentlemen, walking haphazardly, guided only by starlight, (and what else would one want to be guided by?) straight into the kingdom of heaven. Those last two lines? My idea of heaven...

IMAGES FROM THE MAG: The Ice Cutters, 1911, Natalia Goncharova
                                                 Madonna With the Milk Soup, 1510, Gerard David 

Tuesday 3 December 2013


A little boy sits opposite me,
 absorbed in a game,
on a gadget I do not own,
 for which I have no name.

He kicks his heels up,
 (only his toes reach the ground);
in the chair beside him, his mother sleeps,
 curled, legs raised far above the ground.

He calls out to her,
 when he hits a particularly high score;
she jolts awake, unseeing,
 then falls back to sleep once more.

She is my sister, in this place
 where the needles preside;
it heals me with an aching love,
 to see her son never leave her side.

© Shaista, 2013

There are angels everywhere. I saw one in the little boy opposite me. I wrote the poem half-way through my infusion (and hers), but afterwards, I took some cake across to him. A friend recently celebrated his birthday and since I was too fatigued to attend, he dropped by some petit fours this morning. Thankyou Simon! The nurses enjoyed some first (by 7:30pm they were flagging as much as I was) and then I walked over to the angel. He took only one piece, even though I cajoled him to take more, and he spoke so sweetly and gently while his mother looked on and smiled. We suffer from similar conditions and exchanged the usual wry affection, each as tired as the other, and I thought of kneeling before them and reciting my poem, but my brother was waiting to pick me up and so I walked away on a wish of luck and hope and friendship postponed. I think the little boy would have liked 'his' poem, but the cake was poem enough.
I am working on my memoir, slowly, but with great determination - the chemo/monoclonal infusion takes eight hours and I write and create and connect across time with poets and like minds - today, Tupac Shakur, who, at 18, rhymed soulfully in journals that resemble mine.

first image from The Mag