POETRY – Home through Frosted Lips

By Syed Riza Qadri

But, of course, Kashmir always wakes up as its own self every morning.

I’m in class but I steal two seconds to smuggle a look out the window. I caper through groaning wintery clouds, through the creaks of frosted bones. I blow my breath over the Chinar and marvel at the ripple of its copper leaves. Ever so plenty, ever so beautiful. I smile at red noses and hands rubbed together. I smile at the sweaters, the mufflers, the boots, and the crunch of gravel beneath them. I travel a thousand miles, yet it is always away. The tree with arms of leafless branches that it holds aloft with pride.

It seems to break down, though, before the One. And the arms are up in remembrance.The birds chirp to its murmurs of prayers as it heaves a sigh of cold gusts, and there appear shards of ice, swords of snow, hugging its very form. The tree is a thing of misery and majesty. It is in pain and it is so far away.

But, of course, it will be here tomorrow. And I’ll be, too.

(I came back today, but it was through a different path that I never chose. I saw upturned firepots and admonishing mothers, and then I saw scraps of papers being adorned with colour. Crisp leaves spiralled off the dusky ground to greet me, to meet me. ‘As-salāmu ʿalaykum.’ ‘Wa ʿalaykumu s-salām!” By the time I reached I had wings of dead leaves and a lost heart.

The tree was not a tree anymore. It was nothing. As though it had never prayed, never sighed, never lived. Never bled.)

The STORM-BLAST came, and he Was tyrannous and strong*

By Aqsa Ahmed.

There is an albatross


About my person.

Sometimes he flies south,

But returns erelong.

I am afraid he never leaves.

I did shoot at him once,

Regained my hold of the helm

And sailed out.

But guilt crept back and hung around my neck until he healed strong.        

I kneel in the dawn,

Just as sunlight begins to trail on my floor and    

beseech freedom.

“Release me from this trammel,

let me swim away merciful albatross.”

                                                                                But he hovers about my person.

“Oh, strange soul”, says he

“My wandering marinere.

I am tyrannous and strong,

You are haggard


and thin.”

                                                                        “And I am sorry my little one –

                                                                 But you do not yet know how to swim.”

*Please note: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner L.41-42 (all lines it italics hereafter reference this text)

You can read more of Aqsa’s poems published on I RISE here.

Featured image credits: “storm waves by Kristian Leov.

Regretfully Dad-Abu.

Regretfully Grandad,

I couldn’t attend your funeral

I wasn’t sad enough.

Not that I was short of love

Or you never let me feel,

I just wasn’t yours grandad- you were never a part of the deal.

Regretfully grandad I forgot you,

Shunned away from the responsibility of being like

You. Of being with you- because my life could never mix with yours.


There’s no room to spare-

There was never any conflict- I just wasn’t there

In that foreign terrain I’ve been made to call home


And you speak Punjabi Granddad.

I can’t and I don’t.


Aqsa Shaheen Ahmed is the Creative Writing Editor for I RISE Magazine. 

An Ode to Robina


Robina was a 70s dream,

Who lived for hot buttered toast and

Michael Jackson LPs.

Her first car was crashed by her dad when she was just eighteen

And she believed powerfully in her own daydreams.


Robina was a free-thinker, a dreamcatcher,

A go getter. She walked around her neighbourhood

With a bucket of toy soldiers in one hand and a pic ‘n’ mix in the other

And she adored her father and mother.

Whom she cared for like no other.


Robina was an amorous Walter Mitty,

Who dreamt of Darcy and Gilbert Blythe,

And of her place in their classic lives,

Roaming moors and mansions alike

As queen of the castle and as wife.


Robina was a smart arse

Guaranteed top of the class

Polite in every conversation

Ready and willing for confrontation.


Robina was a killer queen,

Dynamite with a laser beam

But now she’s got five mouths to feed-


So she gave me all those books to read.


Aqsa Ahmed is the Creative Writing Editor for I RISE Magazine.

Featured image credits.

The Good In Me

The good in me is so breathtaking
The good in me is so mesmerizing
When I started to see the good in me and the value of my worth
I found it hard to stay around
People who didn’t
The good in me is sharp
Like a sword
Like an arrow it pierces
Every negative force that
Does not see the good in me
The good in me is so great
The throne of greatness
When somebody says they
Cannot see the good in me
I hug them with pleasure and
I say,”may the good Lord restore
Your sight for I see
you have lost it”

I cannot wish to be somebody else
To wish you are somebody else is
To waste the person you are
I am happy to be me
The good in me is powerful
I may not be perfect but
I am loving
I am honest and happy
I am what I am because of
The good in me.
I can breath and yes I am living
I am not dead like a stone
I can see the good in me
And it shines like the sun
Very bright and radiantly

The good in me shines so much
That it can give light in darkness
Can you see the good in me?
Yes or No
If yes I am grateful and if no
It is still a fact
The good in me is powerful
The good in me gives me
Wings to fly.
I fly high like an eagle in the skies
Above my enemies and challenges
I fly high above my problems
The good in me gives me courage
It reminds me everyday
That I am a victor not a victim
Blessed and not cursed
That I was born for
A purpose not by mistake

The good in me reminds me that
I can do anything
That I am unstoppable
That I am a winner
That I am victorious
Even if I stand in Africa
Somebody in Europe can see
The good in me
The power of the good in me
Can cause an earthquake
The power of the good in me
Can cool a volcanic eruption

The good in me is a warrior
It chases away my fears
It defends me against those
That critisise me
The good in me gives me confidence
I never feel insecure because
Of the power of the good in me
The good in me chases way
My fears and insecurities
Like a dog chases away a thief
The good in me is my advocate
My commissioner of oaths
The good in me reminds my enemies
That their negative opinion
Towards me is completely
Null and void
The good in me is valid
Do you see the good in me?

©Nancy Kili 2016
All Rights Reserved.

Nancy Kili is a Ugandan poet and Lawyer based in Kampala. She performs poetry performances in Uganda under the Ministry of Education and Burundi. Her poetry book is called “Failure is a wizard” with a version in French called “L’echec est un socier”.

Image credits can be found here.