Verse Sanctum: Write your way to healing

Source: Annahar
A helicopter puts out a fire at the scene of an explosion at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut. (AFP)
A helicopter puts out a fire at the scene of an explosion at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut. (AFP)
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By: Carpe Diem 



Welcome to issue #5 of “Verse Sanctum”: The Carpe Diem team will dedicate the segment's upcoming issues to encourage everyone affected by the tragic Beirut blast to find psychological sanctuary in written verse. Submissions of either poetry or prose with a word count of 300-400 words will be compiled and shared with readers of Carpe Diem after being reviewed by the team. Through the "Verse Sanctum" initiative, we want to listen to your emotions, and provide for them a safe and welcoming haven.




  Rewind by Joyce Horkos


My grandparents mourned by dad for years on end,

Without knowing he was still alive.

It was easier for them to believe death,

It was easier for them to embrace a goodbye

Than to live with fear of the unknown

And its horrid possibilities.

With happiness being unwelcome in their household,

Every year, Christmas would stand on the doorstep and wave to my little


And Easter would peek through the window unable to give them chocolate


My grandma mourned my dad’s eyes for many nights,

Not knowing they were watching the sun rise on the other half of the world.

My grandpa mourned my dad’s arms

Not knowing they were holding clinking beers on the other side of the day.

War waging on their side of the sea,

While his overflowed with music and nightlife.

Like the yin and yang,

Like the two sides of the same coin,

Life and death yet play a game of chess with us,

That I will honorably agree to partake in.

So I mourn Beirut.

I don’t dare send her letters.

If she were to answer,

If she were to tell me of her pain,

Of her last faint breaths,

Of her broken ribs,

And fractured spine,

I would know she is still alive, despite hurting,

And I will sleep every night with the thought of her leaving again,

And I will wake up every morning with the fear of her not returning home again.

And if Beirut were to not respond to my letters,

Then I would know she is really gone.

Even the slightest possibility of her enjoying a beer on the other side,

Or watching a different horizon flicker with the first sun rays

Of a new day,

Would be inexistent.

I wouldn’t want to know if war killed my beautiful Beirut.

So I just assume her a simple death,

And imagine an alternative world underneath her rubble,

On her side of the shore,

Or her part of the night –

A chess game in reverse.

I mourn her eyes, and pray they are seeing a better view,

I cry for her at night and somehow,


A spec of hope burns inside of me

And a faint voice of inherited memories

Tells me that mourning is sometimes just a

Pre-welcoming cocktail party.

One thing Beirut taught me,

Is that goodbyes are forever,

And so I bid her goodbye,

Relieving my cracking spirit with

The idea of sharing something eternal with her.


The day my father immigrated

To escape war,

My grandma threw away a dress she had bought that day.


And now, August 4 is as my grandma’s dress,

A Tuesday attire I wish I didn’t have to put on.

I wake up hoping I could skip forward,

Stay naked,

Because there is always a rewind,

To the blood and slaughters.




Traffic lights



“Let’s catch up over coffee today.”


“See you after work babe.”


“Something is burning.”







“Are you okay?”



6:08 PM


“I love you”


Goodbye Beirut.

Rest in peace Beirut.





Wednesdays now stand at the doorstep,

Unwelcomed, watching me

Light a candle in front of my grandparents’ portraits

As I tell them about you, Beirut.

I tell them that you disappeared weeks ago on a Tuesday,

That I don’t know what has happened to you,

That I’m afraid you’re no longer coming back.

They tell me to go on ahead and mourn.


I am still mourning you Beirut,

So please, come back.

Do just as my father did.



Joyce is a 17-year-old Lebanese poet who aims to always write about the

good in every bad. She is studying Chemical Engineering and minoring in

Creative Writing. At the time of the explosion she was at her house in North

Lebanon, awaiting her father’s safe return from his Achrafieh workplace.





  Everything, in Pieces by Zeina El-Hoss


Under the rubble

There lies some dream

Some hope some will

Some sentimental treasure

Now a wreck

On the TV

They're playing songs

About a city as old as time

That rose from the ashes

And never shook under pressure

Now a wreck


But I've seen wreck

In every story-telling wrinkle

On an old man's face,

The collapsing sanity

Of a people

The collective fear time cannot erase


I've seen more damage

In the hearts that didn't stop that day

I see my homeland's inevitable fate

In the aftermath of war and hate

In decades of unhealed trauma


But how could this cancerous state

Be our karma?


Legend says this city has seven lives

But now I realize things have been overglorified

In every poem and song ever sung

There's no mention of the blood

On pavements, shrapnel wounds,

The beautiful child that died too young

The mother who lost her son


I do not care what those songs say

My city is in pieces, along with my faith

In a tomorrow that will never come


 Zeina El-Hoss is a Lebanese writer and freelance translator who dreams of a better Lebanon where freedom and justice prevail. She was at her home in Beirut with her family when the explosion happened.





Welcome to Carpe Diem, Annahar's new literary section featuring prose and poetry- old and new, published or hidden within the nooks of unveiled pages of Lebanese writers. We welcome all contributions with the caveat that the section hopes to see rawness and authenticity in thought and emotion. Please send inquiries to Carpe Diem’s executive editor [email protected]



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للإطلاع على أخر الأخبار والأحداث اليومية في لبنان والعالم