EPIC Poetry Group Poet’s Corner: Safe from discovery, Ends, Ache, Mummy

Here’s the latest installment of Poet’s Corner, presented by the Edmonds-based EPIC Poetry Group

Safe from discovery

I want to search
and I want to find

in one fell swoop,
the discovery of the real root.

I want answers
and I want to know
how this hidden menace came to grow.

I think of secrets and of pain,
I think of places, I want to go,

but you have travelled
far and wide, they said,
where and why
do you want to go?

I want, I told them,
to go to a place
where I don’t have to see
her brave, sad face,

her soft withering loveliness,
her skin fading with silent grief.

Her courage caught somewhere
between denial and acceptance.

I want, I told them,
to hold her in my arms
as she held me all my life,

to look into her hazel eyes
and say with calm surety
‘Mummy you will be ok.”

I want her to believe me.
Not humour me.

Instead she holds my hand,
her frail, weakening fingers
trying to clasp mine.

Her warm brown eyes full of love,
she murmurs that it will be ok.

I want, I told them,
to go to a place

where neither of us lies
and we don’t have to try.

I want to shield her from reality,
from the CT scans and their audacity,

to be brave, to be calm,
I want so much, you see,
to save her from harm.

There must be a space
of this kind, with such care,

where the truth is kind
and discovery rare.

I could point out to her,
the sunshine outside,

amidst sweet nothings,
I could continue to lie.

Zeinab Masud

~ ~ ~ ~

I want to be a fire breathing dragon
I want to exhale fumes of fierce stories
Of stuff that gripped my heart
Like splinters slowly injected in soft, pulpy flesh
Drawing drops of exquisite red blood
Each one, a perfect crimson stain
Each one, a reminder of an end.

For it was just that
Many beginnings and ends
My parents tried to shelter me
as we went from shore to shore
But everything always changes
When you go from shore to shore

And that’s why I want to be
a fire breathing dragon
Exhale gusts of smoke
Wrapped up in stories I want to share
These tales live in my heart

My soft, pulpy heart
Pricked crimson with dots of blood
For splinters slowly bore through
Reminders of endings which always came true

All the while I had hoped
that ends were just dreams
for I so badly
just wanted it all to continue…

Zeinab Masud

~ ~ ~ ~


A mix of cultures and I came to be
not confined, never meant to be,

but this world, it darkens…
it begs to define,
in biased tones,
my heart, my mind.

Black, brown, white or more,
I am more than a color,
I need you to know.

In insidious whispers, they do say,
‘we are different now, you and I.’
You can stretch your wings but you may not fly.

Stay close to your shores and do not blend.
You are the stranger and not the friend
I must know my place, in soft tones they say,
‘choose your tribe,’ then walk away.

From dry earth to warm flames of fire,
from silken, wet waters
to winds
lifting me higher,

I am of the elements, can you not see?
I soar high. Do not define me,
I fly above in a turquoise sky,
I look down and I choose to be
reflected below in a warm, blue sea.

Married to the earth,
yet, I roam free.
I could be the white in soft, satin snow.
The molten orange in a volcano.

I could be travel through East and West,
I could be all people searching for a place of rest

I can be night or day, dark or light,
the cripple’s cane, the blind man’s sight.

My souls is spilt over sands and seas,
for remember,
I was born of cultures,
fierce and free.

Today, I search for a safe, kind place,
beyond color, beyond race.

 Zeinab Masud

~ ~ ~ ~


I looked down and saw her ultra sound results
Her CT scans
I saw swarms of doctors peering like piranha fish
Poised to tear to shreds
Soft flesh
Her soft skin, her arms which once cradled me
It was now shriveled and sagging
And hiding the contours of a savage poison
Corroding her insides
A rare kind of cancer they said

It comes camouflaged
Masquerading as normal cells
So as the doctors stared at the white speckled scans
I searched their faces for some sign that did not signal defeat
But their eyes were cold, factual and scientific,
like compassion had gone on a coffee break
And so I wheeled her out
Her head tilted elegantly to one side, her back straining to stay erect but still slumping slightly

There was a chief of doctors
and he called his students
Presented Her to them
in brutal, basic terms
He taught them about her illness,
about the frightening foreign guest in her body
I wanted to put my fingers in my ears so I wouldn’t have to hear him speak
Spouting his scientific jargon

But a young student doctor was watching
so I remained calm and
looked out of the hospital window
The young doctor with a yellow scarf,
she was searching my face
Her own eyes full of sympathy,
she looked away from me and at the ground
I held back the ache in my eyes
with all the strength in my heart
But in my ears I could still hear the robotic droning of their dark prognosis.
Unabashed, shameless voices.
That’s what they sounded like to me

I had nowhere to hide
I thrust my pain somewhere so deep inside even I couldn’t reach it

Then I held her still beautiful face
And pointed out to her
the sunshine outside
Amidst sweet nothings, I lied.

Zeinab Masud

~ ~ ~ ~

Zeinab Masud Agha is a trained Humanistic Counsellor and a Certified Tiny Habits Coach. She has a passion for prose and poetry and has had articles published in newspapers and magazines. Zeinab is currently working on her first book as well as a collection of poems. She loves the writers community in Edmonds and the greater Seattle area. Zeinab was one of the recipients of the non-fiction award at WOTS last year. Currently based in Seattle, Zeinab has straddled cultures and crossed continents, having lived in over 10 different countries. She’s now searching for a place to call home…



  1. I was touched by your poems, Zeinab, every one of them. So beautifully written, so full of heart. Mummy reminds me of something that happened to my dad back in 1976. A panel of doctors summoned him and his family to a large, cold, empty room. We sat quietly at a table of white laminate and listened while they pontificated on his lung cancer. At that time, we didn’t know how serious it was and that it was inoperable. As in your poem, “their eyes were cold, factual and scientific,
    like compassion had gone on a coffee break.” I had hoped that kind of behavior had changed since 1967.

  2. Zeinab: Your poems express the depth of human emotions. With your words you paint a picture that is universal in nature and speaks to the hearts of life’s experiences.
    Very well done.

  3. Thank u all for your kind words,
    Jerry, a big thank you for your encouragement.
    Grateful to be able to share with like minded souls.

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