3 poems by Shahidah Janjua


    Shahidah Janjua was born in Pakistan, where she lived until she was fourteen, at which time she moved to the UK, with her family.  She is a published writer.  Her poems have appeared in several Anthologies including, Charting the Journey (Sheba Publishers) and The Redbeck Anthology (Redbeck Press).  She had a book of Poems and Shorts entitled ‘Dimensions’ published in 2015 in Ireland. Shahidah has lived in the South of Ireland for the past twelve years.  She is a writer and a community development worker, supporting rural women’s groups and local services for Refugees.






    I paint the colours of you,

    Azure blue with golden threads running through,

    Volcanic dust beneath your feet,

    Autumn leaves of red and yellow.


    I paint the sounds of you,

    A violin and a plaintive bow, notes of Barber’s adagio

    Piercing the ether,

    Releasing the silent snow.


    I paint the shock of the loss,

    The double helix’ snaking down the page,

    Intermittent spatters of blood,

    Fragmentation, letting veins.


    Each year the body remembers

    The day, the time, when your heartbeat stopped,

    My pleas of no, no, no, bouncing off the tiles,

    Into the olive grove.




    The Flower


    The tongue is razor edged,

    It slices through surfaces

    Paring down to the essence.

    The tongue is silk.

    It licks at wounds,

    Is honey to kindness,

    Is slavish to truth.

    I was in Brazil and Columbia, it says,

    In the back of a van with the band.

    Metal, heavy, rock,

    Black boots, tattoos, and drugs.

    It left me there, my mind, it says.

    The parade came in one by one

    Then went – me hollowed out.

    No one loved me before you, it says.

    Don’t leave me – no, you must leave me.

    This is my gift, forever, it says.

    A dystopian photograph

    Of a bright red rose, growing,

    Out of a crack in the concrete.




    Small Bones


    There were no words to name it

    No words to tell it,

    But the small bones knew.

    They locked the messages

    Into her body,

    The bones in her back

    The bone in the arm which died.

    The mother who left,

    Once, twice, too many times.

    The father, just a word,

    A name for a stranger,

    Who lived behind high walls,

    With gates and bars.


    My promise to myself,

    To be a human being,

    Hard as it may be.

    Bad words bring exile and loss

    But also freedom.

    Disconnection means

    Having to re-invent the wheel.

    Find connection where you can.

    She said you were insane,

    You knew it as rebellion.


    Countless lives lived in one.

    Long years searching for something,

    Still un-named,

    Until she landed on another icy shore,

    Where bombs and bullets

    Were more real,

    Than the silence she left behind.

    She saw the marvel of a blackened tree,

    Clad in a cloak of snow.

    That is where the golden boy stood,

    Drawing her into the future.







    1. Shahidah, these poems, as with everything you write or say, go right to my heart. I am so proud to call you my friend and to have the privilege of hearing you read these words.


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