Is There Any Hope

This world is getting uglier by the day,

Hate crimes killing us everywhere.

Why can’t we all just wake up and see,

That we are brothers and sisters in humanity.

And you’re no more deserving of this place than me.

Were your ancestors born onto this land?


I didn’t think so! So don’t go tellin’ me to leave my home!

Reject the media’s call to war,

Turn to sources that side with peace,


Divided we keep falling to our knees,

Keep shouting out that ‘we can’t breathe!’

We need to stay united, spreading love,

Understanding that with no community,

We will remain incomplete.

Let’s join forces, join hearts together,

Cure this cancer called hate once and forever.

We are shepherds of the earth,

Appointed to watch over it,

Why do we keep destroying it?

Stop killing our children all around the globe,

Their innocence sees not skin, sees only soul,

But evil tongues keep digging an evil hole,

Filling their heads with lies of supremacy,

Erasing their hearts, ending their purity.

Our children’s smiles keep fading everyday,

Tomorrow’s skies hold promises of gray.

Is there any hope in changing this fate?

© Hend Hegazi 2015

(To give a listen to the audio version of this poem, please click here to visit the Pen Powered Mic blog. While you’re there, check out the other great audio poems in honor of World Poetry Day.)

Return of the Egyptian Spirit

match pic

When I moved to Egypt some 14 years ago, there was a palpable spirit that lived on the streets and in the hearts of all Egyptians. It was loud, and passionate, full of love…and even if we were on opposite sides of the field, it united us. That was the spirit that we saw with every football game here. I remember quite vividly about 11 or 12 years ago, Egypt was in the running for some kind of cup. The time was around 8 or 9 pm. I had watched part of the match, but it was my son’s bedtime, so I turned off the TV and took him to his room. A few minutes later the roaring of cheers washed through our apartment. It was exactly as if I were at the stadium and the cheering crowd was live before me! “We just scored another goal,” I laughed. Such a beautiful spirit.

Please don’t misunderstand: I am in no way a sports fanatic. I don’t watch every game, know all the stats, and most of the time I even screw up the players’ names. But I watch once in a while, and if it’s a match with some kind of cup at stake, chances are I’ll be excited about it. And the great thing about Egypt used to be just that: that even people who were not football fans got into the cheering spirit once the matches came around. It was something fun that united us all. Like I said, it was a beautiful spirit.

But that spirit died with the rise of the January 25th revolution. It was as though people became too caught up in politics to care about anything else. It was as though eating, breathing, and dreaming politics was what would cause the change that so desperately had to take place. I wonder if it’s another manifestation of the Egyptian credo, the one I see in so many Egyptian men: we can only accomplish one thing at a time. Can’t concern ourselves with politics AND care about the game, apparently. So that spirit, the one that kept us cheering for victory, the one that urged us to push forward, even through the sweat and the pain, it took the bullet. And even when various foundations tried to revive it by lifting the ban that kept the stadiums free of spectators, there was always some idiot in the crowd, dead set on causing trouble. The local matches haven’t had any spectators for more than a few years now. Honestly, it’s just sad to watch the games and see the empty bleachers. I’ll bet it’s depressing for the players as well. There is no comparison between playing to a crowd of people cheering you on, waving banners with your colors, SHOUTING YOUR NAME, RAISING THE ROOF….and an empty stadium where the only sound is that of your own heart pounding. No comparison at all.

Tonight’s game between the favorite rivals, Ahly and Zamalek, vying for the Super Cup of Egypt, took place in Dubai. The stadium was packed, split between red and white. It was such a sight! You could see the crowd’s energy being passed to the players. Even the sportsmanship was turned up several notches. At one point a physical confrontation was about to ensue when players from both sides stepped in, calming the scene, refusing to let competition override integrity. And for those 90 plus minutes, that beautiful spirit – the one that united Egyptians no matter which jersey they wore, the one that gave them a reason to smile and laugh despite all the hardships of life – peeked its head out and inhaled deeply.

I really wish that spirit would return. The country is in desperate need of unison, and cheer. Giving some attention to the love of the game doesn’t detract from the importance of working toward building a better country. Just the opposite; if we can maintain the same kind of sportsmanship we witnessed tonight, if we can hold open matches and welcome back the crowds without reaping damages, perhaps we’ll find assurance that something better is attainable. Perhaps we’ll regain the will to keep pushing forward, toward a brighter future, and a better country. Perhaps. I vote we revive that Egyptian spirit.



‘It’s just a little white lie,’ he whispers into your ear. ‘You’ll finish that report after you play the game…your mom doesn’t need to know exactly when you got it done.’ You call out that you’ve finished, the video game shaking in your hand and you hold your breath and listen. When her footsteps fade down the hall you force that feeling of guilt away with an unsure smile.

He’s a little one…still young. They start out small, too.

‘So many people do this; it’s not a big deal,’ he murmurs inaudibly as you nod your head and shove the pack of cigarettes to the bottom of the drawer, hidden beneath neatly folded shirts. ‘Good, now no one needs to know and you can smoke whenever you want,’ he cheers in his unheard voice.

He’s a bit older, a bit bigger. And he accompanies you everywhere you go.

‘If they didn’t want you to cheat, they wouldn’t give you unsupervised exams. You think everyone here is actually following the honor code?! No one is…why should you?’ His voice is firm. Watching you copy the answers from the book, he chuckles imperceptibly.

He’s an adult now. And he thinks he has full control over you.

‘You have no choice,’ he screams silently into your soul. ‘She’s given all her attention away with nothing left for you. That other woman will give you comfort. Call her, go to her. It’s your only chance for happiness.’

He sits between you and the woman who carried you through the years, consoled you in the dark and reflected your sunshine in the light, the one who planned to stand by you and lift you up, even if it meant that would cause her to drown. He sits between you, his presence tangible, causing you to look upon her with disdain. His laughter tears apart your life as he places it on his shelf as another trophy won, another paradise so gracefully brought to rubble.

Following his whispers – one by one – from his child form till he became a titan, you watched goodness collapse and your world crumble.

There had always been another voice, you know. There had been an inner feeling, guiding you away from him, urging you to remain pure, pleading with you to ignore the whispers.

It’s still there, that inner feeling. It’s not too late to tune out his whispers.

Tune out his whispers and tune in to you.

New Breath

bent flower

Your tongue shot the bullet that pierced my heart,

Rang confusion in my ears,

Filled my lungs with smoke…

And choked my soul.

Beaten and broken,

Without a friend to turn to,

I fell to my knees and whispered,

“God…my heart is heavy. I’m so very sad.”

He let me cry all the tears I needed,

Until His Grace covered me,

And I finally fell asleep.

Now my laughter is the dam

Which keeps the tears at bay,

Hanging to the thread of hope,

That the nightmare be forgotten,

That your shoulders have the strength to hold me.

All the while,

I whisper to my Lord,

Begging Him to bless us,

Begging Him to destroy the demons


They destroy


Out of ideas for your current piece? Start another!

image for writing multitasking

I used to think that in order to be focused and effective, I could work on only one writing assignment at a time. I worried that if I tried to write multiple pieces, I would become easily distracted and unable to give each piece the effort it deserves.

A few weeks ago I found myself faced with three deadlines, two separate articles and one for a piece I was editing. Just the thought of working on all three simultaneously had me anxious…but I am NOT one to ignore a deadline! I had no choice but to buckle down and get to work. And it turned out to be such a great experience; I learned the value of juggling several mentally demanding tasks at once, and I have become a better writer for it.

The beautiful benefits of working on more than one writing assignment is that you have a wider creative field, so ideas flow more easily. Often you can use them for one of the projects at hand, which is great for your short-term deadlines. Sometimes the ideas that come to you may not fit any of your current projects, but they will tend to be ideas with potential, so you can jot them down for future use. If you do experience a period where ideas shy away from you, then editing – which requires more analysis and less creativity – can help keep your mind active. By having simultaneous deadlines, you are under more stress to finish the job at hand, but the fact that your brain must stretch into different spheres increases your ability to do so. It’s similar to academically successful students who participate in extracurricular activities; they have just as much studying to do as every other student, but they also have other commitments. Since they understand that their time is limited, they know they cannot simply idle away the minutes, so they finish their tasks quicker and, quite often, at a higher caliber.

So if you’re worried about taking on a couple of different projects, don’t be! Working on them simultaneously will provide great practice in mental multitasking. Starting new writing projects is a great trick to overcome periods where you experience a shortage of ideas. In either case, working at several writing tasks simultaneously will undoubtedly help you improve your craft.

Reviewers vs Editors: Whose Words Are More Painful?

2015-03-06 21.53.27

Back in the day, when we first learned editing and peer critiquing, we were taught that before we point out the weaknesses in a piece, we should always provide a positive comment. The positive comment makes it easier to digest the negative, sort of like a literary ‘spoon full of sugar.’ An encouraging word also gives the writer an important sense – however small it may be – that the editor truly wants the writer to improve, and that improvement is indeed attainable.

It seems that editors are abandoning this practice, however. Perhaps due to the millions of pages they have waiting on their desks, ready to be graced by their red pens, their limited time makes them focus on the changes which need to be made, neglecting to give an encouraging word. But for those of us on the receiving end of that, such an oversight can be debilitating.

Writers need to have thick skin because there is no question that one’s work will often be met with harsh reviews. The difference, however, is that a review comes after publication, after the writer signed her piece and someone, somewhere saw it worthy of putting it out into the world. Regardless of whether or not it makes any kind of bestsellers list, being published is, in and of itself, a milestone, a mark of success. A review can often be more tolerated than an editor’s comments because that review comes once the piece is completely out of her hands. The words of an editor, however, have the power to keep her piece crumbled up inside of her, soaked with the stench of failure.

As an editor, I make an effort to point out the positives in all my clients’ work. I do that because, as a writer, I know that we can swallow a mountain-load of negative…but without a sip of positive, it can easily get lodged in our throats, choking us into a stationary state.

Fellow writers, find solace in knowing that we’ve all been there. The disappointment feels unsurmountable, but breathe deep, and keep moving forward. Remember the last words of encouragement you heard from anyone, and let that reignite your confidence.

And my fellow editors, please don’t overlook the encouraging words. Your are on the same team as your clients; make sure they know that.

Your Freedom


There will come a time,

When your eyes will shoot open

With the sting of your heart,

From the thought

of all the moments

When you turned your gaze away.

When you will look back and wish,

You had stopped the tapping,

The chit-chatting,

The game playing.

There will come a time,

When the fog of your mind will settle,

Shaming you to your knees,

When you will wish you had paid attention,

Wish you had given a glance,

A hug,

A moment.

There will come a time,

When as you think of me,

You will wish

For just one glance,

Just one hug,

Just one moment of love.

When you will beg to sacrifice everything,

For just a second

with me.

There will come a time,

It’s on its way,

When the memories will haunt you,

When you will wish you could rewind,

And give love to those who loved you.

When you will wish you could un-do

The hurt you didn’t see,

The pain you never noticed,

The neglect you displayed

so casually.

But when that time comes,

It will be too late.

I will already be gone,

Far out of your reach.

You will be left alone,

Free to tap,

and chit-chat,

and play as you please.

There will come a time…

When you will be free of me.