Spotlight: Ayesha Raees

Updated: Apr 21

Lahore, What Happened—


Everybody wants to leave you now

and maybe they should

so you can grow in yourself

a free tree without the discourse.

Joy is easy: dub smog

as fog, summer as a season,

dust as the dirt we were built from.

I remember my first bright blue sky

was at a parking lot

outside Toronto Pearson

where I mistook my first

breath of fresh air

for freedom.

No one has held me

like you have, Lahore.

So please-- don’t cry.

For this is acid.

The monsoon burn my eyes,

flood the streets, swell up

every mosquito in sight.

Remember the hail? The snow?

Every winter we endorse

God, call His every warning

miracle, His every nature

natural. I burn against blazing

gasoline, layer my skin

in the skins of authentic

kids and lambs, try to keep

warm in all this cloud and sand.

Remember, you are not fit

for snow, that these flakes

will one day drown you,

will one day poison you,

will one day make everyone leave you.

Lahore, was my asthma,

my phlegm, my consistent lack,

because of you?

I held a breath so clogged,

my chest begged its acid

to burn a hole for a way out.

We have thickened the dusk,

killed food and shelter

for food and shelter.

We have become the smokers,

the juul puffers, the hot duds,

our love, a love, like love,

dying after each and every

practiced misuse.



Ayesha Raees identifies herself as a hybrid creating hybrid poetry through hybrid forms. Raees currently serves as an Assistant Poetry Editor at AAWW's The Margins and has received fellowships from Asian American Writers' Workshop, Brooklyn Poets, and Kundiman. Raees's first book of poetry, 'Coining The Wishing Tower' won the Broken River Prize hosted by Platypus Press and judged by Kaveh Akbar, and will be forthcoming in March 2022. From Lahore, Pakistan, Raees is a graduate of Bennington College, and currently lives in New York City. Her website is: www.ayesharaees.com

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