Verse Sanctum: Write your way to healing
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,
Because there is always a rewind,
To the blood and slaughters.
“Let’s catch up over coffee today.”
“See you after work babe.”
“Something is burning.”
“Are you okay?”
“I love you”
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]