Farrah Akbik is a British-Syrian poet based in London who writes to raise awareness of the hardships Syria and Syrian refugees are going through.
Al Sham (*another name for Damascus)
I want to lay my head in the lap of Ghouta,
Dull my senses with pomegranate wine.
Drift like Ophelia down the river Barada,
Lose myself betwixt the jasmine vines.
I want to run along the Grand Umayyad Mosque,
Just as I did when a small child.
Tie a ribbon at the shrine of John the Baptist;
The last time I visited I’m sure he smiled.
I want to prostrate my body; place my face upon the carpet.
Think of all the tears that proceeded mine.
A Roman temple, a church…a mosque.
Do we not all plead to the same Divine?
I want my first love, my one, my only,
My breath, my soul, my heart…my whole.
I drank but one drop of your spring;
With it you bewitched me like the Jinn.
I want to lay upon the ottoman in the Azm Palace;
Forfeit my thoughts, count its pearls.
Listen to the birds singing in the quince tree,
As the sun rays dance upon my curls.
I want my favourite shisha café;
A cup of tea or two.
Pray tell me what Scheherazade would do?
I want a leisurely walk through your labyrinth;
As if I were travelling through your veins.
To feel your heartbeat through the cobbles;
To dance madly underneath your rain.
I want to sit upon Mount Qasioun once more,
To read your future in my coffee cup.
To eat sunflower seeds and drop the shells to the floor.
To sit and watch Damascus sleep.
I want to drown in my memories lest they fade;
The demise of Aleppo, a price yet to be paid.
Sweet Gabriel spread your wings and comply,
Shield my Damascus from the barrels in the sky.
The fingers of innocence did write upon the walls;
Beaten, tortured…their nails you did pull.
With childhood fervour, they did for freedom call.
‘Bring your wives!’ You said, ‘we will return them to you bellies full!’
The people filled the squares with surrendered hands;
Laid but flowers and olive branches at your feet.
Their cries and pleas did bellow from the stands.
Your tanks and Shabeeha did fill the streets.
No apologies or consolations did you return.
‘They are all terrorists!
They must all burn!’
From your pulpit, with clenched fists;
You did stoke your parliament with an invisible whip.
Like pathetic circus animals, I must lament;
They did gibber and thump to your prominent lisp.
Marie Antoinette did her shopping spree resume;
A landscape garden, bespoke lampshade…a pair of shoes.
If they afford not bread let them bullets consume!
All Western propaganda, a plot…a ruse!
With lead indeed you did spray the crowds.
Like felled flowers they fell to the ground.
Their chants of ‘God, Freedom and Syria’ were loud.
Their bravery and passion you did with tyranny pound.
The black basalt of Daraa you did stain red.
The women did throw but rice atop your heads.
You silenced the masses, you left them for dead.
Little did you know their sisters would come instead?
Hamza Khatib you did like a rose pick.
His leaves you did violently rip.
His bud you did callously cut.
His every petal torn from its tip.
Death is not the end for such a rare rose.
Where he is now nobody knows.
You could not steal the smile from his face,
As he knew he was going to a better place.
In the ancient Al Omari the men did congregate;
Cradled in antiquities womb, they awaited their fate.
Their anguish and pain did penetrate every stone,
Their prayers and pleas did reach God’s throne.
Doors barricaded, warriors of bygone did awake;
To record for posterity a bravery we did forsake.
Bodies broken, blood shed… their spirit did not shake.
New warriors guard the arcades now, ghosts you cannot break.
Dear Bosra…the Romans and Persians you did out live;
Head held high, your stage stands still.
It’s only a matter of time for Assad to give;
But how much more blood is yet to spill?
These poems were first posted on Hikayetna – integration and empowerment for refugees