International Times

The Way It Is, at International Times today.

New Verse News

Posted today a poem about the elections in Saudi Arabia.



by Shirani Rajapakse

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — In elections that allowed Saudi women to vote and run for office for the first time, more than a dozen women won seats on local councils in different parts of the country, officials said on Sunday. While the move was hailed by some as a new step into the public sphere by women in this religious and conservative monarchy, the local councils have limited powers and the new female members will make up less than 1 percent of the elected council members nationwide. —NY Times, Dec. 13, 2015. Photo credit: Ahmed Yosri/European Pressphoto Agency.

What use a vote
when they are all shrouded

in darkness? An
image at the periphery of the horizon

crying to be acknowledged,
a shadow fluttering past, a sad cloud

shielding its eyes from
a dust storm,

a puppet in the house
dancing to someone’s idea of a

tune. None of these are of much use,
except to entertain

and you don’t
need a vote for that.

Shirani Rajapakse writes poetry and fiction. Winner of the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013, finalist in the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards 2013, and shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award 2010 her work appears in Flash Fiction International (Norton 2015), Silver Birch, Asian Signature, Moving Worlds, Berfrois, Counterpunch, Earthen Lamp Journal, Dove Tales, Buddhist Poetry Review, TheNewVerse.News, About Place Journal, Ballads (Dagda 2014), Poems for Freedom (River Books 2013), Voices Israel Poetry Anthology 2012 and many others.


 Sad eyes stare at the world outside,

iron bars lock you in. Four thick walls

mark your space. This is all you

have and nothing more. Proud strong

woman from my homeland you live

imprisoned in a web of lies they

churn out for money from crowds

that come to ogle as you stare

out of your cell with lonely gaze.

Your feet hold scars of neglect yet

the pain in your heart

can never be seen by those that claim

you are well. There’s no one in that space

that can share your grief. You hide it inside

as you have all these years. Can you

still speak oh woman of my land?

Do you understand the words

your ancestors spoke, recall the stories they

whispered to you as a child? Do you yearn

to walk across the lands they owned,

feel the breeze on your skin

once more as it blows warm and free?


Remember your life long ago dear friend,

in that faraway place divided by earth

and sea. You roamed with your

family, played in the woods,

picked up trunkfuls of earth that you

smeared on yourself, bathed in rivers deep

and narrow as the fish swam below between

your feet. Remember the days, you walked

with the herd across vast tracts,

brown and green and azure up above.

They promised you happiness

the day you were sent as a gift yet all

you got was this prison lonely

and sad. Solitary confinement yet you

committed no crime. How long will this last?

Every day you die

a little and every day the lies grow strong.


© 2012 Shirani Rajapakse