Thursday, 31 October 2013


The trick or treaters have been thin on the ground for some years now that we are grown and flown. But when I caught wind from my Canadian cousin of the thing you are meant to do to entreat the treaty hunters, I inveigled my sister Angelina to get carving...
She is truly artistic and gleefully carved into that pumpkin, slicing and dicing his teeth with swashbuckling finesse...
I placed him by the foot of the willow tree, under the lantern. Sweets at the ready, inside the door, and I felt sure the calling card would entice, even though my mother was completely without faith - "They won't come," she foretold gloomily, "they never come anymore"...

But within minutes of our sniggering, smirking pumpkin lighting up the street, the doorbell rang!

I've lost count of the number of children who have rung the bell, in droves, others hot on their heels...but my favourite little Halloweeners are the nieces, dressed as pumpkin and bones...
(The doorbell just rang while I was preparing this post - a young girl, not vamped in blood, scars and gore, but looking for someone named Rosie...who apparently definitely lives here... the same address! Her ghost maybe?? Spooky!!)

Sunday, 20 October 2013


The most important thing, when you are terribly late, is to make an entrance...
Masked warrior is my best bet tonight at the 6th Annual Willow Manor Ball, where festivities have been swinging for hours already and Tom Hanks has probably already swiped all of the caviar dressing. It helps the Warrior Style (I feel) to turn up without a date, for how can a mere man compete with this vast crinoline silhouette (no room for him in the doorway!)... 
This haute couture robe à la française is the Maria-Louisa for Christian Dior by John Galliano, and I know exactly what you are thinking... you were expecting butterflies and a riot of autumnal colour, but mes amies, that's where the shoes come in... Sophia Webster is a genius!
The hostess, Lady Tess Kincaid, is celebrating her birthday in blush pink so my gothic attire will not compete with her effect and in any case, she's been at the Guinness a while so hopefully she will simply throw her arms around me as Miloš Karadaglić heats up the floor with 'Libertango'...

The real reason I didn't bring a date is because I heard Billy Collins might be here tonight - Tess introduced me to him years ago and the thought of hearing him recite 'I Chop Some Parsley While Listening to Art Blakey's Version of Three Blind Mice' is thrillin'. He is a former Poet Laureate, and subverts the usual idea of a poet - he is witty, droll, simply magnifeek... Here he is reading for the Obamas - the video is unclear, but the words are all that matter...  
Someone is playing Autumn Leaves, moonlight fills the Scioto (I'm in Ohio, of course) and I all but forget that I can only see out of one eye (naturally I am wearing a black lace patch over my left eye). Seamus Heaney is wooing Tess beneath the trees, and I walk alone by the banks, thinking of the Native Americans who once made their home here and for the slaves who escaped the antebellum - the Scioto meant freedom. I feel no pain, only the sheer blissful relief that comes with imagination and the magic that creates virtual worlds of friendship and beauty. Happy birthday Tess! It's time to dance in the spirit of, and for, the Iroquoian warriors.

Images from: Fashion In History
Native Americans Online

Friday, 11 October 2013


'This too shall pass',
my grandmother said,

over and over to me - 

There was always something
that needed comforting

in me.

Yesterday I glanced up
to find a hospital plaque

talking to me - 

'It will pass, whatever it is',
it said, and time looped back

to watch over me.

 © shaista, 2013

Today is the day the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Today is also the 87th birthday of Vietnamese Zen monk and peace embodiment Thich Nhat Hanh. Martin Luther King Jr. strived to put forward Nhat Hanh's name for the Nobel prize in the 60's but time has moved far along from the Vietnam War, and the monk moves in much quieter waters now. 

Without his teachings in my life, my own peace struggle with pain, fear and anxiety would be a sad and terrible failure. The greatest of the lessons has been the simplest - to stay present and if fearlessness is available in the present moment, revel in it, trust it, be grateful for it. It passes. The gratitude and the pain. The fear and the remedy. It passes, whatever it is. For days I had stitches that had worked themselves into such positions that I could neither sleep nor breathe without the constant scratch scratch against the soft inner linings of my eye. I wrote to the surgeon with hope, and two days ago he kindly saw me, plucked out the offending irritants and trimmed others he saw might irritate me in time. Purple stitches they were, caught just in time - he was leaving for China that night to perform complex surgery on a train. Lucky travelling patients, lucky me. Perhaps they don't need prizes and awards, the heroes of our world. They just need to exist. And practice.

images: The Mag

Friday, 4 October 2013



Till morning comes
a princess remembers
secrets of the heart -

the bride stripped bare,
the blue flower,
the glass palace,
a city of bells;

Old path, white clouds,
clear light of day -
surprised by joy,
our feet walk the sky;

Only love is real.

(c) Shaista Tayabali

This piece is inspired by a New York artist, Nina Katchadourian, creator of the 'Sorted Books' project - where photographs of clusters of books form an idiosyncratic poetry of sorts... a hidden, spine poetry, revealing something of the reader's tastes, and simultaneously testing the constraints of language and grammar. I was hoping to include a poem in time for National Poetry Day, but I am excusing myself on grounds of an outrageously painful eye. I did have a poem published in time for Volume Magazine though!
Most of my books are in boxes in the garage (I have been living a nomadic life this summer moving from place to place, but I will be settling somewhere 'propah' soon) so a couple are a selection from the general home library as opposed to just my own. 
This poem joins part of the dVerse - Poets Pub where a constellation of poets share their talents, offer advice and challenges... try writing a spine poem with your own library selection :)

I think this one by Samuel Peralta is brilliant...

The Passage

Only the sea keeps
crossing the chasm

Inside the tornado,
the conjuror's bird
the possible past:

the hundred secret senses,
the gates of exquisite view.