Introduce me to a God
That does not love looking at the bare ankles of angry men
More than he does
The sharp turns between a woman's waist and her thighs

Introduce me to a God
That is not more disturbed by the sound of art
Echoing out of a guitar's belly
Than he is by the pyramid of skeletons building up on Syrian soil

Introduce me to the one
That loves loaded metaphors and coffee stained lips so much,
He wrote 604 pages of perfected poetry...
To carress peace into the frail thing behind your ribcage

Dear Rosary Men, 
Pace your bead-strokes and murmurs to the speed of your heartbeats
And pour me a cup of religion
That does not taste like the metallic flavor
Of bloodlust and dynamite hymns of Haram
Chanted in trance, over and over and over again...

Dear Rosary Men,
Stop telling me to carry you around my wrists
And chant your names like grace for blessings.
When you are nothing more than strung beads
Made of woodwork carved out of the tree
That was Adam and Eve's first undoing.

Echo of a Shadow // Hessa Albanafasaj & MAHA


In an eastern land where bronze sands roll like waves and is home of the brave. Where horses prance in a rhythmic pace. Where sun shines with glory and grace. There you can hear voices of mothers, telling tales of the evil that smother. They speak of an inhuman fay, in night’s veil it killed all those who stray.

Her shadow-like figure swayed in the darkness, as she walked towards the village in silence. She reached the valley where little huts' lamps glowed. Her eyes traveled from door to door as she spied into the windows of every home. In one of the houses, she heard a little boy crying defiantly “I won’t sleep, I won’t obey”. The mother glared at her young boy, and told him “Fine, but you can’t avoid the evil that is Umm Al Duwais”. The mother wrapped the boy in her arms, and told of a tale from a legend of old. She spoke of a beautiful creature that was very bold.

“There are many tales of late, that spoke of this devil and her angel face. She walked the valley wearing Arabian gold that shone. Her anklets rang. Her bracelets banged. The silk dress covered her dreadful truth. She had donkey’s foot. Her hands were made of sharp sickles, weapons to behead her victims. She was the mother of sickles Umm Al Duwais was her local name. The name that runs shivers through veins. Her perfume scent traveled the wilderness, to seduce a man that strayed, from home he came faraway”.

The mother gazed into her boy’s eyes. The eyes so reminiscent of his father’s, it almost brought her to her knees in grief and sighs. She journeyed within her memory for words although she could not forget the events of this tale. After all, she was telling her son about his own father, who strayed.

“Mother what happened to the man” asked the wide-eyed little boy.

“She starts walking around the valley, gold clanging and spreading her mystic fumes. She finally got the man’s attention; he was drawn to her without suspicion. He thought she was lost; he wanted to help the lonely lady at any cost. She kept her eyes low; she had long lavish lashes, a perfect beauty that turns flames to ashes.

“Are you lost” the wonderer asked.

“She turned around to claim her prize, When he got close enough she lifted her eyes, her cat like yellow gazes could not be disguised. He turned around and chanted his prayers; he ran with eyes full of tears. He knew the myth he came across, she wasn’t a ghost as he once thought.”

“Did he get away, Mother? Did he escape?” asked the little boy in sorrow.

The mother tenderly kissed her boy’s forehead. She placed him down into his bed, covering him with a blanket, and walked away. She approached the door and said in despair, ”No one has ever lived to tell his tale. Anyone who meets her ends up meeting their fate”.

The shadow at the window, stood still, unnoticed by those who lived within. She listened to her own story with pain in her heart she could not bare. She gave the boy a final look; she had always liked children and their innocence.

“I would have been a great mother,” she whispered under her breath, before turning to walk away.

She traveled back to her cave, to escape from the lies’ wave. She remembered the time when she was young human. She was as fair as a moonlit night, long black hair and a face of light. Caravans traveled to her father’s palace, to ask for the hand of his beautiful daughter. She was not always a cursed creature but a victim of a cruel spell from a wizard of hell. She had refused the wizard’s marriage proposal, so he was compelled to avenge his lost honor. On her wedding night upon witnessing her full beauty, he cursed her mirror until she become a monster that spread terror. She remained as beautiful as she was on her wedding night, untouched and petrifying.

Little did everyone know what she was hiding, the helpless creature desired understanding. She wandered the land searching for that wizard. She sought for any means to end this curse that consumed her spirit. She wandered the mountains that he roamed, but she never could find him, nor find solitude.

The myth that was there that she seduced and killed. There was no truth in that, as she is not skilled. She hurt only those who wanted to capture her, hunt her down and keep her captive. The savage hunters had a cruel heart, they wanted to cage her and display her to the masses. “Sell her to who would place the highest bid” She heard them arguing while she hid. They ran a freak show where she was the freak, she killed only those and left them reek.

She retreated to her cave night after night, crying in pain and shriek on her life. The mountains screeched at the sound of her voice, only to be deafened by the wind's hollow screams. An immortal, she became no end to her misery. As a legend she would live, just a mystery.

text // hessa albanafsaj
art // maha 


I am woman.
Painted lips and painted eyes,
underneath my black Abaya
is where I hide my fists.

I am woman.
Words loll around my skull and tongue,
breath somehow enters, leaves my lungs -
a galaxy of bruises on my wrists.

I am woman.
But when hair grows where the hair grows,
when I’m more hot blood and less red rose,
don’t chide me for my human-ness
and ask me why I’m pissed.
I am woman. 
I resist.