Mariam Saeed Khan
Mariam Saeed Khan is a poet, writer, journalist and digital storyteller. Her poems have appeared in Pandemonium Journal and Daily Times, and she’s given a masterclass as guest speaker on The Desi Collective (The Writers' Block Party), as well on Virtual Camp PK. Mariam was featured on Badass.gal as part of a Young Creative Council UK project marking International Women’s Day. She also appeared alongside other international poets in read poetry’s National Poetry Month video, ‘What does poetry mean to you?’ In December 2020, Mariam took part in Columbia University School of the Arts' Digital Storytelling Lab Program. She is currently at work on her debut collection.
Skyline and Sealed Envelope
Packed the stars in an envelope.
Stamped and left it
at the lamp post.
Just like a message in the bottle.
Unlearned all that I learnt.
Waiting to relearn in the sealed envelope, of what was said and not.
The symphony skyline had my Nani’s heart of her yaadein – that’s what we say
to our memories in Urdu.
It gives us apaniat – that she’s still here.
I never got to say her my final goodbye.
For it was too sudden – death is.
The last of my mother’s legacy from family tree.
For whatever was, is gone.
The last candle to blow; like the airport’s last airplane
that left without one passenger.
That missed the flight and the silence of it, within the terminal.
I closed my eyes.
Listening to my heart beat and thinking, the souls might be on the other side,
floating in the times to come.
When we least expect, they might show up in our unconscious sleeping zone.
Turtle and Frog
Look at how far you have come.
From oceans, beside the chamber of passages.
From hells, where the fire burnt in the forest.
When all else went north; a cup of tea, biscuits, and a melody of silences
in our conversation was all the solace.
I referred to us as, 'Turtle and Frog'; as once, I mistakenly brought a turtle instead of a frog because the green makes it everything serene.
The hand of God with the fragile times, took you along the way.
He heard you praying in the drawings of hidden tales of unspoken words.
Your faith kept the journey.
Struggling, healing, dying and fighting to keep alive.
I heard you saying in a distant miles away in a dream: 'Your trials are not
stronger than you. You outlast them anyway.'
Who held her home and made it alive?
The Divine rhythm rewired in our lives and friendships.
In the cushion of surprises and birthdays, graduations
and your wedding bells.
With the acceptance, to stand up front and to kick the football
when is the time to do so.
After all, a wasted kick is a missed chance. So why not let the turtle
save that and use it later.
After all, the frog jumped from one leaf to another.
Looking back to see where the turtle is now.
We may be circling in stories of different eras and phases;
but our eyes speak, whenever we talk and communicate in unsaid times.
People talk about everything except the friendships that live it up too –
but as with everything, they too need water and supply
of trust, love and humanity.
All in all, the turtle and frog took a detour under that tree of a ground
that had the auditoriums next to it.
To be asked, 'Till we meet again.'
For no one is one man army and there is a backstory; times and hourglass
of the comforting fire that keeps the cold away.
I smiled and narrated this tale of friendship and sisterhood to my niece
when asked to talk about, 'Once upon a time' – and here we are still going.
All poems: written exclusively for iamb
Snowflakes and Cotton Candy
The one thing that our poets have been writing since eternity?
A four-letter word that got a universe within.
But each coating of it, looks different on an individual.
The sky gets its meaning from moods of our selves;
whether we know it or not, the colors changes with time;
our feelings flip over like dripping sound.
Sometimes it is blue, other times very whitish and red-orangish.
Yet, it is what it is – a ceiling full of bulbs with snowflakes.
Over a long period of distance, it keeps us alive.
It doesn’t make us homeless even without any home.
I stretch my hand and watch the palm lines.
Wondering where’s the line of cotton candy in it?
Would the life experiences all about baggage of fluffy memories
that one leaves in past?
I put my hand over my other hand,
the small cottage that makes the sweet candies
is at work.
Love is what the inner thermostat of the person is.
Which is why some bridges leave you; other cross you by.
While the rest are stationed in the mighty mountains, with its inner calling.
Now I skateboard with the walls that got no name.
A pattern of ladders is a mystery.
Between the valleys, there lies within, me and you.
The world was asleep. And we were just getting our first snow of the season.
For me, that is love.