Two Poems

Stories We'll Tell our Grandchildren
We know now for certain that the world is coming to an end
and that we are the bricks falling apart.

Eighty years on when we sit with our grandchildren
under a smoke-stung sky for a heavy
medicated drink to keep our souls
from succumbing to the dementors
within and without—
eighty years on, 
if the world survives the next eight decades,
we will not tell them stories
of green grass and playgrounds
and sunny skies, starry nights and rainy days,
the stories which made up our bedtime with grandma.
We will tell them stories of
rape, violence, war and abuse,
of Islamophobia and terrorism,
of cows as deities
and lynched human bodies as meat
and everything that was ghastly and could be named.
The princesses and princes in our stories
will be the leaders who raped children
and rioted to kill millions—
the leaders we chose for ourselves.
The palaces in our stories
will be refugee camps and orphanages,
the kingdoms war-torn, bloodstained deserts,
the chariots trucks loaded with dead bodies,
and roses the skeletons of used machine guns.
The end of our "once upon a time"
will not be a happily ever after
because, eighty years on,
we will be praying once again to our fairy godmother,
as we did on those starry nights and rainy days,
for dry eyes and happy endings,
for the clock not to strike midnight,
and for magical stories to tell our grandchildren.


Graveyards and Rubble

I have found peace in both graveyards and rubble,
for what is rubble if not a building-grave
and what are graveyards if not the rubble of human existence.

Rubble and graves are both conceived by war,
both signifying an end to something that breathed and lived,
before the war epidemic spread futility like the plague.

War has questioned my understanding,
my sense of the world and humanity,
my ideas of peace, love and hope,
my belief in miracles or prayers,
the extent of my existence
and of the universe in which I exist.

War has questioned everything
I ever believed or loved.

They tell you it is always for the greater good, and
it won’t last forever.

They tell you in war everyone is together,
the Muslims,
the Christians,
the Dalits,
and the Hindus,
and that everyone suffers
the same loss of belonging.

They tell you there is unity in futility.

But what, really, do ‘always’ and ‘forever’ mean?

How long do they last, ‘always’ and ‘forever’?

How true is their promise, ‘always’ and ‘forever’, when even the promiser doesn’t know their extent?

Beginnings and ends are simultaneous, for war, life, love, poetry are cyclic.

To hope for beginnings never to end, and ends never to begin, is hopelessness.

And this, perhaps, is why wars are fought, why futility is widespread, and why the world is coming to an end.

Graveyards and rubble both impress the faintest hope upon my soul, that if war can end life, surely peace can end war.

Only a question remains— When?








Sobia Abdin is a feminist, a poet, a storyteller, a Muslim woman of colour trying to make sense of her life and identity, and of the ongoing devastation in the world around her.  Her poetry is her way of mourning for humanity, for the bodies being burnt by hatred—black or white, male or female, covered or uncovered.

These poems are part of ICF's unfolding Citizens against War series of literature and art, initiated in the spirit of listening: to our poets, artists, fellow citizens against war and warmongering, and the hatred contrived by our "leaders" day after day.

Images: Wang Hui, 'Peach Blossom, Fishing Boat' / China Online Museum ; Wang Hui and assistants, 'The Kangxi Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Three: Ji'nan to Mount Tai' / Metropolitan Museum