Friday, 27 July 2012


a house collapses
to cry a bit.
borrow from neighbours 

bank some money,
build it again
get rid of our fear
it won't collapse again
in the war,
the repeating is rare .......

a friends death
mean to look,
to the sky,
yell and scream,
to cry my solitude,
to wear black,
to walk with him to a
final destination

I am sure, he is not going to die again
one death,
we all have one death

losing parents,
become an orphan,
permission to be angry.

retreat awhile for 3 days,
place the gardenia
on freshly dug earth,
return for the living,
impossible to be orphaned twice

pain is waiting,
unknown moments,
stop at the gap at the door.
fear overfills,
a tear drops silently,
solitude. a breath.

Neveen Abou el Ola  July 2012

War poetry


wa, grey, black, grey

a house collapses

to cry a bit.
borrow from neighbours 

bank some money,

build it again

get rid of our fear

it won't collapse again 

in the war
the repeating is rare ...

a friend's death

mean to look,

to the sky
yell and scream,

to cry my solitude
to wear black,

to walk with him to a

final destination

he is not going to die 


one death,

we all have one death

losing the parents,

become an orphan,

permission to be angry
retreat awhile for 3 days

place the gardenia,

on fresh dug earth,

return for the living,

impossible to be orphaned twice

pain is waiting,

unknown moment

stop at the gap at the door.

fear overfills
a tear drops silently,


 a breath.

Neveen Abou El Ola    July 2012

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

When Words Are Not Enough - More Conversations with Neveen

We all have those moments, when no matter how long we plan or carefully put words together the result is not enough for what we intend to say.
Sometimes this is when someone is ill or has died and we struggle to let others know that we share their grief or anxiety and despair. often we have had similar experiences ourselves so it's natural to want and to be able to give comfort.

Today I am not only lost for words but also lost as to how to feel and respond to a situation.

Neveen is seventeen years old, one of five daughters of my ex's sister and brother in law.
She and her friends and family watch tv, movies, chat on the internet and listen to music.She has her own likes and dislikes of most things, as any teenager. She has her own views and opinions and mostly these are quite different from her parents views, also as any teenager.
Neveen reads a lot - poetry, fiction, whatever - and she also writes. 
Perhaps this is why I feel an affinity with her which goes beyond the ordinary concern of a middle aged aunt. After all, I do class myself as a writer and as such should be able to use appropriate language in appropriate situations to convey appropriate meaning. 
That's what writers do.
I am also a parent who has watched three of my own children and two step children go through the child to teenager to young adult troublesome years. So why am I now so useless at knowing what to say and how to say it ?

Because Neveen and her family and friends are in Syria.
As I wrote the news on my television tells me that fighter jets have bombed eastern areas of Syria's second city Aleppo and that there are 1.5 million people homeless in the country and more than 1,000 children have been murdered in the conflict.  
In a report released yesterday on the 16 month uprising, the international charity War Child says young boys and girls are being deliberately targeted in Syria's war.
It calls it a "War on Childhood"

Not only is Neveen and her family in the centre of this dire situation, but they are also Palestinian - refugees from birth and forever second class citizens to the country they live in.

Last night I asked Neveen (on the internationally important Facebook) how everyone was and was she able to go out. She said no she wasn't, but her dad had been to work for the first time in 5 days. He is a doctor with a clinic in Damascus, but had stayed at home the past days as the family are so fearful of the gunfire and explosions.
I asked her how she was spending her days and if she is writing. 
She said she has written something, in Arabic which she will try to translate into English for me. I am not surprised that the subject of her work is "war".

And here is where I run out of useful sentences ... ... 

What can I do to help ? Nothing.
Should I send money ? They don't need it.
What do I talk about now ? The weather ?
I tell Neveen that I am looking forward to receiving her writing, in English, for this blog.
I tell her that she will be a famous writer soon.
She tells me that she may be if she stays alive.
Then she tells me that all of them are ok really. It's just that sometimes you lose hope.

Today Neveen says she is "fine and happy". No reason, she just decided to be strong and happy and today she will translate the poem. 

My heart overflows with unwritten and unspoken words.

Letting Go - 250 words

The last of the sunset lingers behind the hill glowing orange as the sky darkens.
Sitting beside your bed, I reach out and brush my fingertips onto the paper thin skin covering your cheek bone. I will you to respond to me, just a flicker of an eyelid or a ghost of smile. But you lie still and silent and a chill creeps into my soul.

My memory does a rewind to the day we climbed that hill, laughing and stumbling as we tugged at each others clothes, trying to make the other go slower. You reached the top first and stood there arms above your head, waving and smiling as I collapsed, breathless onto the ground beside you.
“Look, down there ! “
My eyes followed your pointing finger to the field below us where a small child held onto the string of a coloured kite. The kite swooped and swirled pulling the string taut then loose as the child struggled to stop it escaping.
We watched spellbound, willing the kite to stay aloft.
Then, in an instant, it was free of it’s tether. The string slipped effortlessly out of the child’s hand and we gasped together as the kite swirled off into the sky. Away and away on the wind while the child stood motionless, watching it float into the distance.

You inhale deeply, then exhale one last time. You are off, soaring into the air as I raise my hand to wave you on your way.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Excusing ourselves - or being unaccountable ?

I've found them.The words that I can use as a get out clause for anything that I planned to do, spoke out about doing, wrote about doing - but never actually did do.

Or the things that I have done that in hindsight were plainly stupid or inappropriate.

        "It's a moving target - what we think that we are able to achieve" 

states Nick Buckles, Chief Executive of G4S the security company who is making such a mess over fulfilling the contract for the Olympics that he accepted and signed. 

Substitute the 'we' for 'I' and I reckon that many of us could put these words to effective use. 

Did you plan to clear out the kitchen cupboards once and for all today but didn't quite manage it ? It's ok. As fast as you put things back neatly, someone comes along and takes  stuff out again. It's a moving target.

Were you going to cut the grass but it's rained again and it's now too wet ? Not your fault. Moving target therefore out of your control.

Drawn money out of your bank account and gone into debt? Well, they keep changing the amount of the overdraft. Moving target.

That list of of "to do" s can all be easily explained away by acknowledging that there are so many moving targets in life that non of us can possibly be accountable for what we do or don't do. 
It used to be called 'making excuses' but with a little tweaking of our language we can ensure that we are never accountable for anything and therefore never to blame either. In other words we don't need to take responsibility for our actions or even our thoughts.
 Life itself is a moving target.

Mr Buckles thinks that no matter how incompetent his company now looks because of his mis-management that he is still the man to carry on doing that job.

Mr Vaz of the Select Committee finds it  'astonishing' that Buckles believes that.

I would also add the words incredible, unbelievable, astounding and depressing.
Shows a further decline in our attitudes and social and personal morals.

But that's just my opinion and I can't be held accountable for that.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Paying For A Moment You Never Had ?

Flicking through the telly channels this morning and came across this snippet of information - on the Matthew Wright show.

Someone on the show tried to buy an autograph of their hero John McEnroe from a friend who refused to sell it on the grounds that there's no point in shelling out for a moment you've never had.
This then leads to the question - what are autograph hunters and memorabilia collectors doing with their lives ?

Well. that got me thinking.

I know I'm a hoarder desperately trying to distinguish between things that could be classed as memorabilia and general junk (or if you like, making excuses for not throwing things away)
Many of us experience this situation at some time in their lives and others experience it for all or most of their life.  But I must say that when I look at my 'saved' items - photos, books, old tickets for shows, programmes, letters - I do have memories of being part of these events and occasions. Sometimes I have forgotten the event and the piece of memorabilia reminds me of things that have happened over the years that I might not otherwise remember. As I get older I am finding that often this is an invaluable aid to retrieving the memories that have been stored in the rather complicated filing system that is my mind. And I know that in this case anyway, it isn't 'just me'.

I've had collections of things in my time too. The small packets of sugar that you get in cafes was a particular favourite when I was a child. The collection developed quickly and I had sugar packets sent from all over the world as well as to places I had visited. I didn't exclude a sugar packet from Australia just because I hadn't been there. People who I didn't know sent me sugar from their local cafe and from the ones they had visited on their own travels. I took great pleasure in arranging them into areas, colours and themes - and they also came in handy when the sugar in the bowl ran out and we decided which was the least important or pretty and guiltily use it's contents. That collector's habit is still with me today and at the bottom of any bag I possess will be a couple of leaking, screwed up packets of sugar, from Costa Coffee or the little tea shop we visited last weekend.

Rubbers (erasers), pencils and beer mats were other collections but they didn't take off so well as lots of other people seemed to collect them and I like to be original if nothing else ... ...

As for autographs, yes I love those too. The ones I have are in books signed by the author which is a sort of double collection - the book itself and the signature/autograph. I prefer to 'know' the author. 'Knowing' could be that I chat and discuss things with them on a writers' forum or a different social network, or that I have actually met them.

So no, I don't think the autograph owner's grounds for refusing to sell are justified. But of course this is a 'free country' and we can make our own decisions on whatever we want.

Now, anyone interested in buying a copy of a book signed by the author 

(Click  here  or  here)


Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Lady Bracknell will be turning in her grave

The headline did make me do a double take :

"Couple arrested at airport after trying to smuggle baby in hand luggage "

There are strange, sometimes unbelievable stories in the news. Depending on which paper or website I am reading I usually skim over the ones that are not to my interest, but this one caught my eye. Apparently, a couple were attempting to smuggle their 5 month old baby through an airport, when the security scanner spotted the baby in their hand luggage. 

It was at this point that Lady Bracknell 's voice entered my head and I'm having trouble getting it out again. 

Clearly, it was a very dangerous thing to do and not having a visa for the child seems a bit of a lame excuse for doing it. I hope the baby has not suffered any detrimental effects of any radiation from the x ray machine - and also that this is not the catalyst for a lifetime of claustrophobia.
I understand from the report that that this happened in United Arab Emirates, but of course the line is immaterial.

The good news is that at least this child has not been 'born and bred in a handbag" which as we know  displays contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life and reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.

Let's hope that this child does not grow up to form an alliance with a parcel and marry into a cloakroom ... ...

Monday, 2 July 2012



Haiku in English is a development of the Japanese  haiku poetry form.

Most commonly haiku uses
three lines of up to 17 syllables
use of a season word
use of a cut, sometimes with a punctuation mark, to compare two images.

The idea is basically to paint a picture using few words and without "showing all".

Here is my (winning !) entry for Writers Online One Word Challenge on the word SHIMMER

Glistening pollen

leaves shimmering afterglow

on butterfly wings



Haiku in English is a development of the poetic form of Japanese haiku in the English language.

Usually in English the criteria is 

Using three lines of up to 17 syllables
Using a season word (kigo)
Use of a cut or kire to compare 2 images

Haiku uses an economical amount of words to paint a multi- tiered painting without telling all. 

As Matsuo Bashō puts it "The haiku that reveals seventy to eighty percent of it's subject is good. Those that reveal fifty to sixty percent, we never tire of "

Here my (winning!) entry on the word "Shimmer" for the

Last minute Haiku


                                     Glistening pollen
l                            eaves shimmering afterglow
on butterfly wings