Archive | poetry RSS feed for this section

Also Libya, Suheir Hammad

28 Aug

no one tells you
if anyone does you do not listen anyway
if you do still you do not understand
no one tells you how to be free

there is fire in your neck
ocean in your ear
there is always your fear
the words you cannot even

no one is here
when the world opens upside
down you reach toward dawn
your weight on the earth changes

some of us plant deeper
others ache to fly

Another Birth (Tavalodi Digar), Forugh Farrokhzad

10 Aug

My whole being is a dark chant
which will carry you
perpetuating you
to the dawn of eternal growths and blossoming
in this chant I sighed you sighed
in this chant
I grafted you to the tree to the water to the fire.

Life is perhaps
a long street through which a woman holding
a basket passes every day

Life is perhaps
a rope with which a man hangs himself from a branch
life is perhaps a child returning home from school.

Life is perhaps lighting up a cigarette
in the narcotic repose between two love-makings
or the absent gaze of a passerby
who takes off his hat to another passerby
with a meaningless smile and a good morning .

Life is perhaps that enclosed moment
when my gaze destroys itself in the pupil of your eyes
and it is in the feeling
which I will put into the Moon’s impression
and the Night’s perception.

In a room as big as loneliness
my heart
which is as big as love
looks at the simple pretexts of its happiness
at the beautiful decay of flowers in the vase
at the sapling you planted in our garden
and the song of canaries
which sing to the size of a window.

Ah
this is my lot
this is my lot
my lot is
a sky which is taken away at the drop of a curtain
my lot is going down a flight of disused stairs
a regain something amid putrefaction and nostalgia
my lot is a sad promenade in the garden of memories
and dying in the grief of a voice which tells me
I love
your hands.

I will plant my hands in the garden
I will grow I know I know I know
and swallows will lay eggs
in the hollow of my ink-stained hands.

I shall wear
a pair of twin cherries as ear-rings
and I shall put dahlia petals on my finger-nails
there is an alley
where the boys who were in love with me
still loiter with the same unkempt hair
thin necks and bony legs
and think of the innocent smiles of a little girl
who was blown away by the wind one night.

There is an alley
which my heart has stolen
from the streets of my childhood.

The journey of a form along the line of time
inseminating the line of time with the form
a form conscious of an image
coming back from a feast in a mirror

And it is in this way
that someone dies
and someone lives on.

No fisherman shall ever find a pearl in a small brook
which empties into a pool.

I know a sad little fairy
who lives in an ocean
and ever so softly
plays her heart into a magic flute
a sad little fairy
who dies with one kiss each night
and is reborn with one kiss each dawn.

This, Unspoken

22 Jun

Sometimes in the evening,
you at your stove, me at mine,
I imagine that we are living together.

I see us through the window,
me chopping, you stirring,
inches apart instead of miles.
I see us through the doorway,
you washing, me drying,
the cupboards stacked neatly,
the knives all in a row.

Would we be miles apart, I wonder —
me, only inches from your crook’d elbow,
your soapy hand.
And, if so, would we be
Comforted by the nearness made easy by distance?

Sometimes in the afternoon, —
the fan in the corner eyeing the room,
I wake in the circle of your uncomplicated arms
and ask myself if I ought never lie down
unless you are beside me.

I see us through the curtains,
me sleeping, you dreaming,
you sunk into sleep, me riding my uneasy dreams.
I see us in the moon’s light,
first my turning, then your shifting,
the moon hung in that spot where the big tree used to be.

Would we be dreaming to risk it, I wonder —
me, a mere hairsbreadth from speaking,
from wondering out loud.
And if we were, would they be
the dreams that come while we are sleeping,
or those that come while we are widest awake?

  

Robin Halevy

Forgetting something, Nick Flynn

20 May

Try this—close / your eyes. No, wait, when—if—we see each other / again the first thing we should do is close our eyes—no, / first we should tie our hands to something / solid—bedpost, doorknob—otherwise they (wild birds) / might startle us / awake. Are we forgetting something? What about that / warehouse, the one beside the airport, that room / of black boxes, a man in each box? I hear / if you bring this one into the light he will not stop / crying, if you show this one a photo of his son / his eyes go dead. Turn up / the heat, turn up the song. First thing we should do / if we see each other again is to make / a cage of our bodies—inside we can place / whatever still shines.

thinking of Syria

28 Apr

Dars fi al rasm/Lesson in drawing, Nizar Qabbani

My son places his paint box in front of me
and asks me to draw a bird for him.
Into the color gray I dip the brush
and draw a square with locks and bars.
Astonishment fills his eyes:
“… But this is a prison, Father,
Don’t you know, how to draw a bird?”
And I tell him: “Son, forgive me.
I’ve forgotten the shapes of birds.”

My son puts the drawing book in front of me
and asks me to draw a wheatstalk.
I hold the pen
and draw a gun.
My son mocks my ignorance,
demanding,
“Don’t you know, Father, the difference between a
wheatstalk and a gun?”
I tell him, “Son,
once I used to know the shapes of wheatstalks
the shape of the loaf
the shape of the rose
But in this hardened time
the trees of the forest have joined
the militia men
and the rose wears dull fatigues
In this time of armed wheatstalks
armed birds
armed culture
and armed religion
you can’t buy a loaf
without finding a gun inside
you can’t pluck a rose in the field
without its raising its thorns in your face
you can’t buy a book
that doesn’t explode between your fingers.”

My son sits at the edge of my bed
and asks me to recite a poem,
A tear falls from my eyes onto the pillow.
My son licks it up, astonished, saying:
“But this is a tear, father, not a poem!”
And I tell him:
“When you grow up, my son,
and read the diwan of Arabic poetry
you’ll discover that the word and the tear are twins
and the Arabic poem
is no more than a tear wept by writing fingers.”

My son lays down his pens, his crayon box in
front of me
and asks me to draw a homeland for him.
The brush trembles in my hands
and I sink, weeping.

Love Is Not All, by Edna St. Vincent Millay

5 Apr

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink

Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;

Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink

And rise and sink and rise and sink again;

Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,

Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;

Yet many a man is making friends with death

Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.

It well may be that in a difficult hour,

Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,

Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,

I might be driven to sell your love for peace,

Or trade the memory of this night for food.

It well may be. I do not think I would.

Horses, by Pablo Neruda

8 Feb

From the window I saw the horses.

 

I was in Berlin, in winter. The light

had no light, the sky had no heaven.

 

The air was white like wet bread.

 

And from my window a vacant arena,

bitten by the teeth of winter.

 

Suddenly driven out by a man,

ten horses surged through the mist.

 

Like waves of fire, they flared forward

and to my eyes filled the whole world,

empty till then. Perfect, ablaze,

they were like ten gods with pure white hoofs,

with manes like a dream of salt.

 

Their rumps were worlds and oranges.

 

Their color was honey, amber, fire.

 

Their necks were towers

cut from the stone of pride,

and behind their transparent eyes

energy raged, like a prisoner.

 

There, in silence, at mid-day,

in that dirty, disordered winter,

those intense horses were the blood

the rhythm, the inciting treasure of life.

 

I looked. I looked and was reborn:

for there, unknowing, was the fountain,

the dance of gold, heaven

and the fire that lives in beauty.

 

I have forgotten that dark Berlin winter.

 

I will not forget the light of the horses.