Tuesday 31 January 2012


your kiss is my awakening
lingering, full of promise 

your embrace is sweet freedom
enveloping, warm fire in winter  

your words, tender gold as maple leaves  
caressing my bare brown feet

father's harsh words faded  
mother's stinging hands mattered not

as you gaze at me,  fragrant 
and dainty as white trillium flower 

"There is nothing more valuable
than family honour."

a woman equal, worthy of
love and honour of your name

believing, i seize my fate 
sinking, falling unto you  

"You are a whore.
You are no daughter of mine."

despite my brother's cruelty
silencing the voices of my sisters

i cry out your name as
father's hand hammers my head

"My hands are clean.  
This is God's punishment." 

my hands are dirty and cold now
face spitted, body bloody bruised 

what price is my honour ?
look to the red sea, and call my name        

Posted for Imaginary Garden with Real Toads - OpenLinkNight - Monday 
and D'verse Poets Pub - OpenLinkNight - every Tuesday starting 3pm EST

Author's Note:   This is to give my support to the Jan. 29, 2012 decision by the Canadian jury on the guilty  verdict for the Shafia family (husband, wife and son) on four counts of first-degree murder. The crown alleged three teenage Shafia sisters were killed after bringing shame upon the family by dating, shunning traditional religious garb and skipping school. 
Rona Ambrose, Canada's minister for status of women, took to Twitter to comment: #Shafia. Honour motivated violence is NOT culture, it is barbaric violence against women. Canada must never tolerate such misogyny as culture."
source:  here and here

picture credit:   here


  1. Zealots often fail to see that the punishment far outstrips the offense. I think fear and control, rather than any kind of honor, are at the heart of something like this. It's abhorrent and outrageous, and a fine topic to write about. Shine a light, girl.

    However, if you'll allow me to say so, I think your poem is much too gentle for its subject. It's too pretty. If you want to expose an outrage, make the reader feel that outrage.

  2. This is hard topic for me to discuss, even difficult as I respect other people's culture and traditions.

    I could have written it in a grimson way with all the horrific pictures but I think I will be stepping out of bounds. As it is, this topic is offensive to some people. Thanks for the feedback Shay.

  3. shocking to read abt this event...shame!
    good to see you bring it up for your readers.

  4. A hard line should always be taken in these cases in the free western world in order to send a clear message that barbaric medieval practices will not be tolerated in their midst. We have no say what happens in other countries but in our own, we do.

  5. ugh...hard hitting piece...the dialogue through out def adds to it making it personal...what a painful situation...and justice should be meted out in kind in cases like this...

  6. This is powerfully and very effectively written - thanks for shedding light on this topic, topmost in our news these days. So well done. I, too, found the interspersing of dialogue hammered the point home really well.

  7. barbaric violence against women indeed and no..no country should ever tolerate..

  8. I was very pleased that a guilty verdict was reached. Kudos to you for shining a light on this issue. It's far more common than people realize.

    I think that your poem does an excellent job of transitioning from a love story to a story of violence.

  9. Sad and powerful...so hard !

  10. I actually heard of this trial and hadn't heard the result, so glad it went as it did and glad you shared the verdict here. Excellent piece, love the tone, the contrast, and the positing of the question of honor, great job. Thanks

  11. Women are meant to be as equals with men not subservient as in some Muslim and other cultures. These were young, beautiful, vibrant girls with whole lives ahead of them and a mother who understood that it wasn't evil to want to be western in their ways. I'm glad they were found guilty and as far as I'm concerned they should be put away for life as in, for all their life.
    Difficult, hard hitting, because it's real.

  12. Sorry about the capatcha code thingie but, I put it there because I was getting a lot of spam left in comments that people left me and that helps to stop the spammers/bots from doing it.

  13. Powerful piece. You did a great job of denouncing this horrible violence, that tries to hide under the name of culture.

  14. This is very dramatic and compelling. The reader is left bewildered by the concept of honor underlying this brutality. You managed to create a moving narrative two lines at a time. Fine job of writing.

  15. Absolutely right.. It's horrific and it's murder...a brave write Heaven...Sensitivity is one thing but I would NOT be tolerant of something like this....good on you for shining a light on this..

  16. This is a wonderful and powerful piece--and the alternating voices make me shiver---


  17. Oh my heavens! been watching this play out, and I think you've handled a very serious subject with grace (that's two puns on you!) and civility. I too am respectful of culture, but one must be respectful of the fact that if you are going to move your family into a culture that is drastically different, then desired assimilation is going to happen. Mercy killings they want to call it...are you kidding me? So I guess certain cultures can be excluded from the law of the land?...and I'm starting to rant. Sorry...I'll put it in a poem.

  18. Such a sad poem - starting with love and then contrasting it with the violence where there should be support.

    You manage to communicate the violence without destroying hope, but it's still sad.

    Thanks for visiting my blog - I appreciate your encouragement.

  19. Well said, Heaven. Really sad. Some serious poems tonight. Like the way you temper the rawness of emotion with some control and seriousness of tone.

  20. You have chosen your words wisely and written this well. I will never understand the kind of culture or religious mindset the not only tolerates, but condones violence against women for perceived infractions against their beliefs, men who would treat their women as less than they would a dog. In this modern and enlightened age to be thrown back to an act like this, and knowing that this happens in many places every day. It boils my blood to hear these things.

  21. Oh, wow, Grace. This is amazing. You had me going in one direction and then ~pow~... so powerful and emotional. I haven't hears about that case, it sounds like I don't want to.

  22. Powerful poem and, of course, subject.

    I have one I wrote some time ago--revised now, but an earlier posted version that may interest you:


    Thanks. k>

  23. hi heaven - some smart internal dynamics gives this piece scope and breadth - delivered though, with your light touch... the balance is affective and impacting

  24. I have really harsh things to say about such "cultures" where woman are brutalised. I think you wrote it well, the italised lines are full of ugly and horror, contrast against the woman's gentle lines like a prayer, who only wants to love. Really portrays it all vividly.

  25. Also I was not aware of this happening...so horrible. And, so often deeds of this awfulness are committed in the name of...'God'...Bravo, blame it on God, of Whom nothing is known, except that It either IS or is NOT.

    Excellent piece on a "cultural" obscenity. So much sadness inside me, when I read of this kind of crime.
    PEACE.....I hope.

  26. This carried quite a punch... Hard to believe that kind of mind-frame trumps parental love...

  27. Heaven this was very moving. I hoped as I read that it would be fiction. :(

  28. This is sad and haunting! You wrote it well and I'm so glad you shared~

  29. This poem should be on the front page of every Ontario newspaper.
    I am proud to say justice has been served. You've written an excellent tribute to these girls and their mother who died as well.
    There is no honour within those murderers now, if there ever was.

  30. Wow - what a wonderful piece of work addressing this extremely painful issue ... thank you so much for writing such a poignant poem about the dishonour killings; the justice meted out was as harsh as it could be here (not nearly enough of course) but better than nothing ...

  31. This is a stunning poem, extraordinarily done.

  32. Well done! I'm glad you shared this piece...this needs to be looked at. It's imperative to respect other cultures, but more important to respect life and freedom.

  33. Excellent write and a good message! Good for you!

  34. Great piece indeed, like how you didn't just go all hard hitting on it, but made it a bit more sublte, even though such a thing deserves it fully. I respect others beliefs and traditions but there is a point when it goes way to far and this just proves it.

    Blogger wasn't nice and didn't show in the blogroll, such I missed on my stroll...haha

  35. The poem on it's own is very good in a number of ways. As a response to the actual events it's even better. I'm another one who wasn't aware of the situation. What a moving, graceful response to brutality. Thank you.

  36. I've been following this case from afar with a certain detachment. Your words have brought life back to these women who were taken needlessly. Touching and heartfelt.

  37. I haven't really followed this case at all. However, I did find that your words were incredibly powerful. Thank you for sharing :)

  38. How sad! I hadn't heard about this case, but how awful it sounds. Your piece made me feel the pain of these young women.

  39. Wow! Very sad news. It is good this issue has been brought to light. Your support is invaluable with this touching and vivid poem.

  40. Wow. No one should tolerate that! Thank you for helping spread the word on this very important issue.

  41. Well tackled subject Heaven. Your voice is still developing. This is cruel, almost unbelievable treatment of women. This is male arrogance, control, and need for power justified by culture and religion. You've begun your journey into this poetry. Your voice will get stronger with every poem. I was there in the 60s when the first real feminist cries were heard. For a while it sounded like whining, but the voices got stronger, and the winds blew change. Stay strong, this is good stuff!

  42. Thanks for all the feedback.

    Beachanny, I am a babe in writing sensitive topics like these. I hope to write with more passion and outrage as Shay has noted, with regards to abuse and freedom for women.

  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

  44. An intensely moving and truly topical poem. I totally agree with all the sentiments you've expressed here.
    We should not be afraid to confront those who would excuse such treatment of women on the grounds of cultural differences.
    We must all oppose cutural and moral relativism wherever and whenever they spread their poison and intolerence.
    It's not true that all cultures are equal, but simply different.
    Not subjgating and murdering women for wishing to be free is 'better' not 'different.'
    I applaud you for writing this condemnation of bigotry and intolerence. Bravo! James.

  45. The ending is so powerful:

    "what price is my honour?
    look to the red sea, and call my name"

    This could work for any number of abusive situations. Beautiful work, as always.


  46. This was well written, but I have to admit that it was too pretty. The outrage has to be felt not just by women, but by men; the entire family as well.
    This was a horrific to happen to these three girls. I've often heard the words, "Don't dishonor the family," but the person or persons saying this don't seem to realize that in treating their daughters like mere property or less than property has already dishonored the family. Thanks for posting this. Be blessed.

  47. I liked how this poem was such a gentle portrait of the victims. I think it's easy to write harsh poetry when something tragic happens, but really, the least we can do to repay the pain of those who suffered violence is to give them love and tenderness in our remembrances. I thought your poem did a beautiful job with that.

    The last two lines were amazingly strong and moving.

  48. I see that I commented on this before (Feb 2/12) - I think probably before I wrote my own poem about this incident ... I just wanted to add that I too believe there is room for poetry like yours in honouring these victims and that it IS too easy to write the harsh, angry poems (of which mine is one) - much more difficult to show the other side, the love and gentleness and respect for those who died of this senseless tragedy - a finer way perhaps to remember them, certainly at least one of the ways we ought to honour them. My poem "Choices", for which I make no apologies, but which, as I say - is the harsher side of this equation, may be found here for anyone who has not yet read it or who is interested in more of this story:
    I think for me, it was as important to finally be able to laud the Canadian justice system for stepping up and doing the right thing as it was anything else ...

    1. This is a tragedy and my heart goes out to all those women who until today are still living under an outdated family value system. Different cultures, but killing is still killing.

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts ~


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