Layla’s first foray into writing was through poetry. She has been penning verses since she was a young child and has always found it to be a relieving and creative way of processing her thoughts, feelings and experiences of the world.

A mostly private concern of hers for years, Layla started to publicly perform her spoken word at poetry events in Dubai, Beirut and London throughout the 2010s and up until the onset of the pandemic.  

While Layla balances the different pies she currently has her fingers stuck into, this page will be where a few of her poems – past and hopefully future ones – will live. 


came and spun the
flipped the w in wealth
into the h for health
took away our flighty fancies,
no more hugs or kisses.

Forget soft hands
or warm embraces,
click on the icon,
see only faces,
toys about,
a messy life,
being lived throughout.

queue outside of Waitrose,
stocking up in the throes
of a pandemic
so epic,
spread across the pacific,
neither racist, bigoted nor specific –
just horrific.

Our universe
unleashed her infected breath
into the air,
a vomit of what
we’ve fed her.
you’re tireless,
and now the pied piper
comes to collect,
shutting stores
and grounding jets,
food to go,
rush back home,
live your life through a phone.

Life has quietened down to a hum,
a scaled back song we used to blare
into our daily living,
notes of doing,
replaced by silent stressing
as keyworkers
lift the weight of
the shirkers
of responsibility,
it’s plain to see
the callosity –
time to use that money you taxed me!

Its more than distance
we’ll have to get.
There’ll sadly still be a debt
we’ll feel as we
hear the sighs
echo across skies –
those lives.

There’s no going back to the ways of old
‘cause this dis-ease
is showing up the degrees
of imbalance
the nonchalance
of a Z generation
in by continued corporate molestation
willing to forsake the aged,
they’re waiting,
for things to go back to shaking –
got feeds to feed and moves to be making.

Nah human, it’s not that way!
We’re all stuck in this repeated day.
Talking, writing,
sharing feelings.
Cooking, planting
doing healings.
How you feeling?
Locked down
boxed up
closed in
freaked out?

Slow it down.
There’s no getting out of town.
Look around at
what’s been found.
Heroes revealed,
liars exposed.
Cracks in the system,
solutions imposed.

People are now talking
‘bout crashing economies
built on inequalities,
we’ve been led to believe
could not be relieved.

People are now seeing
that you can work from home,
take meetings on the phone,
cut down your commute,
produce without rebuke.

People are now hearing how
business is more than the
profit and the loss,
the triple bottom line
has to factor in the costs.


None can thrive alone,
just like we’ve come to feel
isolated in our zones.

Idle hands, chafed bums,
back we go to the humdrum,
to the what’s important
in the end,
the food, the family and the friends.

Priorities need re-ordered,
we’ve had them in reverse,
or things will not get better
until they get much worse.

Trauma, Beirut

Verdun (5 km from the blast)

Stoned and standing in his underwear,
he opened windows for fresh air
started on some humous before
the shaking began and
the blast followed;
I was sure a missile had struck my building.

He stared out at the moving mushroom cloud,
carefully wrapped the half-eaten plate with cling film.

Gemezzeh (2 km from the blast)

He walked into his apartment
the crunch of glass under every step,
rooms swapped their broken bits,
but he searched for his young mint
its soil strewn by his feet,
traced her torn leaves to the roots.

The neighbour below regards the ruinous rubble, yells:
I told you a million times not to drop your leaves on my pavement!

Mar Mikael (1 km from the blast)

I was standing by the window
watching the fire at the port but
my husband told me not to worry, so
I turned to look for Sunday before
Thunder. Slap. Blast.
Hinges exploded into fractured confetti.

Passport quickly in hand, but there was nowhere to go;
I found her ginger fur shaking behind steel.

Beirut, Port (60 metres from the blast)

She rode with her squad in the red,
first responders to the unexploded trauma,
no-one revealed what Hanger 12 stored,
she face-timed her fiancé at the scene but
he knew power held on to evil,
and begged her to run before the call went dead.

I wanted to carry her in a white dress,
Instead I am carrying her in a white coffin.

Beirut Port, 40 metres from the blast

He stood on the roof of the city’s grain silo
filmed the billowing black,
reminded him of the kohl in his mother’s eyes,
he’d called her when his shift had started,
thanked her for the dinner he would never have,
Bless your hands, ya mama.

Another film, same roof, a man
Screams and the blast cuts to nowhere.

Mind for two

at your mind’s door
circling sorrow
as if to comfort, as if to hold, but
gravediggers come for it all.
Hollow hugs leave spirits trembling,
robbed of their resting places for buried dreams.

When they come,
through keyholes
find a spine to climb
find the last safe room
to reveal themselves, and
embody the dead demons.
Rattle, rattle! They’ve found your cage.

When they come,
freestyling your mind
a rainbow of white noise
pirouettes dust,
sambas a solitude, but
two left feet always leave you
on the chair, deafened by
music that never stops.

When they come,
immortal frenemies,
amorphous anxieties
veiled by a truth
they whisper in red:
and you, a captivated statue.

When they come
sleep-bandits with
their hill to die on
not the Palo nor the Sage nor the grass
will suffocate spiteful spirits,
gangsters holding the pin
that will unpiece you.

When they come,
unsettled settlers
to occupy and divide
your peace,
do not mistake them for unfortunates
nor kindred spirits to console. The
needy bastards will
toss your hunched back on the yard
and make gravel of your bones.