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Exploded Ghazal in the Land of the Prophets

Shadab Zeest Hashmi

In tribute to Palestine.

Scripture of crushed ribcages

lies under rubble

in the land of the prophets

So small, the body parts strewn

on sidewalks, threaded into shards

Anything shiny in the ash

was once a child

in the land of the prophets

Hourly the bombs go off

All birdsong, calls to prayer

slip into the smallest body-bags

in the land of the prophets

The screams are human,

the soundless gasps from debris

and incubators too

The convulsions of mothers

shake the firmament

in the land of the prophets

Explosions go on ripping apart

child after child

in playground, pediatric cancer unit, park,

in mosque, church, bus, in alley, apartment,

refugee camp

No place is a safe place

in the land of the prophets

After the explosions,

tiny shrouds, like snow flurries, fill the skies,

come down to speak the Truth

in the land of the prophets

Sarah Mumtaz by Nashmia Haroon for Aleph Vol. 3


Shadab Zeest Hashmi, a Pakistani-American poet and essayist, is the winner of the San Diego Book Award, Sable’s Hybrid Book Prize, the Nazim Hikmet Poetry Prize, and has been nominated for the Pushcart multiple times. Zeest Hashmi’s work engages with history, cultures of encounter, aesthetics and the life of the spirit. She has presented in literary festivals, museums, academic institutes, and conferences across the US and abroad. Her books include two poetry collections Kohl and Chalk and Baker of Tarifa, a volume of prose and poetry titled Ghazal Cosmopolitan which has been praised by Marilyn Hacker as "a marvelous interweaving of poetry, scholarship, literary criticism and memoir." Her latest book is Comb, a hybrid memoir about growing up in Peshawar, the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, during the Soviet war. Comb is a rumination on borders, and the larger historical, literary and cultural encounters across the ancient Silk Road, of which Peshawar was a significant outpost. Zeest Hashmi's poetry has been translated into Spanish, Turkish, Bosnian and Urdu, and has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals worldwide, most recently in McSweeney's In the Shape of a Human Body I am Visiting the Earth and The Best Asian Poetry 2021. She has taught in the MFA program at San Diego State University as a writer-in-residence and her work has been included in the Language Arts curriculum for grades 7-12 (Asian American and Pacific Islander Women Poets) as well as college courses in Creative Writing and the Humanities.

Nashmia Haroon is a multi disciplinary visual artist, and the founder and creative head of Tagh'eer Lahore Creative Space since 2020. With degrees in Fine Art Painting (2004) and M.A honors in Visual Art (2012) from the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan, her practice revolves around training in classical eastern music, painting and photography. She explores painting and abstraction through the influence of music. Haroon has shown works in Pakistan widely, and in India, Cambodia, UK, USA, and has regularly published works in local magazines like ArtNow Pakistan, Herald, and internationally published with Reuters, The Boston Globe etc. Nashmia Haroon has taught at the Beaconhouse National University and the National College of Arts, Lahore.


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