Poem – Sonnet 

The way the world is not
Astonished at you

It doesn’t blink a leaf

When we step from the house

Leads me to think

That beauty is natural, unremarkable

And not to be spoken of

Except in the course of things

The course of singing and worksharing

The course of squeezes and neighbors

The course of you tying back your raving hair to go out

And the course of course of me

Astonished at you

The way the world is not 

Poem  –  Chicago 

‘My age, my beast!’ – Osip Mandelstam 
On the lips a taste of tolling we are blind

The light drifts like dust over faces

We wear masks on our genitals

You’ve heard of lighting cigarettes with banknotes we used to light ours with Jews

History is made of bricks you can’t go through it

And bricks are made of bones and blood and

Bones and blood are made of little tiny circles that nothing can go through 

Except a piano with rabies

Blood gushes into, not from, our wounds

Vietnamese Cuban African bloods

Constellations of sperm upon our bodies

Drunk as dogs before our sons

The bearded foetus lines up at the evolution-trough

Swarmy bloods in the rabid piano

The air over Chicago is death’s monogram

This is the Were-Age rushing past

Speed: 10,000 men per minute

This is the species bred of death

The manshriek of flesh

The lifeless sparks of flesh
Covering the deep drums of vision

O new era race-wars jugular-lightning

Dark glance bursting from the over-ripe future

Know we are not the smilelines of dreams

Nor the pores of the Invisible

Piano with rabies we are victorious over

The drum and the wind-chime

We bite back a voice that might have emerged

To tame these dead bodies aid wet ashes 

Poem – Picture 

Meadow of matchsticks,
soon to be rekindled

by Spring the incendiary.
The exact flame of your blossoms

will ignite the passions

happily sapped by time–
Dripdrop their excess went

and now miners’ hats

light up like love before
your vein, the frame of which

is there to depict the drift,

the waste when I painted
all the review copies

they sent me. But those books

open to polar pages where you
and I weigh the ends of this

teeter totem down, you

at the head and nadir me;
where postmortem is

the aura of self-portrait,

its other half regained at last. 

Birsi Birsi – Madhav Prasad Ghimire

लीला माइतका भुलेर घरका धन्दा तिमीले गर्यो
आमाको ममता भुलेर कसरी माया मलाई गर्यो

छातीबाट झिकेर प्राणसरिका छोरी मलाई दियौ

हेरी आखिर घाटबाट रसिला आँखा ममा चिम्लियौ
‘ख्वै छोरीहरु छन् कता, म त गएँ, ख्वै माइती छन् कहाँ !

प्यारा ! यति रहेछ भेट, टुहुरी हेरेर बस्नु यहाँ !’

धोको यत्ति कहेर के हृदयले उल्टीरहेकी थियौ

हेरी आखिर घाटबाट रसिला आँखा ममा चिम्लियौ
मैले सोधिनँ, अन्त्यकाल कुनमा धोको अडेको थियो

मैले रोइनँ, प्राण जान कतिको बाधा परेको थियो

हेरेँ टुल्टुल खाली, दीन मुखमा हेरीरहेकी थियौ

हेरी आखिर घाटबाट रसिला आँखा ममा चिम्लियौ
आँसू झर्न सकेन खालि रसिला आँखा लिएकी थियौ

बाक्लो फुट्न सकेन खालि दिलको भाषा भनेकी थियौ

मेरो ध्यान गरी मभित्र कसरी आत्मा मिलाईदियौ

हेरी आखिर घाटबाट रसिला आँखा ममा चिम्लियौ
गथ्र्यौँ दम्पति मृत्युका पनि कुरा माया र सन्तोषमा

भन्थ्यौ– मैँ पहिले मरुँ हजुरको प्यारो यही काखमा !

साँच्चै भाग्यवती सती हृदयकी सच्चा ! मलाई जित्यौ

हेरी आखिर घाटबाट रसिला आँखा ममा चिम्लियौ
तिम्रो पाप थिएन, चार दिनको चोला थियो कञ्चन

तिम्रो धर्म थियो, सुन्यौ दिनभरी श्रीकृष्णको कीर्तन

राती शीतल मेघको मनि महानिद्रा सजीलै लियौ

हेरी आखिर घाटबाट रसिला आँखा ममा चिम्लियौ
तिम्रो रुप र माधुरी धमिलिँदै जाला कुनै कालमा

जानेछन् अनि बिर्र्सदै गुन पनी यो बैगुनी विश्वमा

बिर्सि बिर्सिसकिन्न किन्तु कहिल्यै जो यो अनौठो गर्यो

हेरी आखिर घाटबाट रसिला आँखा ममा चिम्लियौ

Lagdachha Malai Ramailo – Madhav Prasad Ghimire

लाग्दछ मलाई रमाइलो मेरै पाखा पखेरो
हिमालचुली मन्तिर पानी भर्ने पँधेरो
लेकै हेर्यौ लाली गुराँस बेंसी हेर्यो प्याउली

पिरती बास्ने परेवा बिरह बोल्ने न्याउली

हिमाल छुन्छ बेलुकी सप्तर्षिको ताँतीले

जुनेली रात बिताउँछु गाउँदा गाउँदै साथीले
सम्झन्छु म हिउँचुली आँसुको ढिका खसाली

यो बिरानो मुलुकमा बस्दैन माया बसाली

वनमा घाम नलागे जगत सारा अँधेरो

नौडाँडाको पारीमा प्रीतिको देश छ मेरो
मेरो कान्ले लेकैलाई पाकेर जाने बादल

हातले मैले नछोए पनि छ कति कोमल

डर लाग्छ मलाई यही बादलु छायाँले

पार्दछ जहाँ इन्द्रेणी पाइला भिज्ने मायाले

Poem – Man of the House

It was a misunderstanding.
I got into bed, made love
with the woman I found there,
called her honey, mowed the lawn,
had three children, painted
the house twice, fixed the furnace,
overcame an addiction to blue pills,
read Spinoza every night
without once meeting his God,
buried one child, ate my share
of Jell-o and meatloaf,
went away for nine hours a day
and came home hoarding my silence,
built a ferris wheel in my mind,
bolt by bolt, then it broke
just as it spun me to the top.
Turns out I live next door.

Poem – Mortal Shower

I met my butt in a Pittsburgh
hotel room. My face
still looks like my face
but not my butt, my hair

no longer resembles an ad
for Jell-O pudding, people thought
it was chocolate pudding for years,
so thick

and rich. There was fog
in the bathroom and then not fog,
I faced my face
and then not my face, the mirror

staring at my ass
winked at the mirror
staring at my face

and the future was defined
as an effort
to use the word sag in my resume.
Have sagged, will

sag, am looking for a position
in which to maximize my sagging
potential. I once cared
what went on back there, about

the extent of grip and rise, just
as some birds crave
the reddest plumage, and I propositioned
mirrors, watched women’s eyes
follow, turned in shop windows
to see if my pants
fit their purpose. Then love

and car payments, love and the sofa
needs to be moved, love and her grandmother
dies, my grandmother
dies, love
and she comes home and I’m thrilled
by her coat and voice
and the brown habit of her eyes. She

likes my ass and lies
about its travels, how it’s lost
focus, and there are wattles
to come, please God
if dentures
only partials, may Depends

be cheap in bulk and the earth
generous with its telepathy, I’m

in Pittsburgh tonight
and with her,
mirrors don’t scare me,
room service is a gas
because she’s alive, I’m a giant,
a tight-assed
titan because she’s alive
and says

come home, the Honda needs
new brakes, a robin flew
into the window today
but shook it off, just
dizzy, stunned
by reflection.

Poem – In the Loop

I heard from people after the shootings. People
I knew well or barely or not at all. Largely
the same message: how horrible it was, how little
there was to say about how horrible it was.
People wrote, called, mostly e-mailed
because they know I teach at Virginia Tech,
to say, there’s nothing to say. Eventually
I answered these messages: there’s nothing
to say back except of course there’s nothing
to say, thank you for your willingness
to say it. Because this was about nothing.
A boy who felt that he was nothing,
who erased and entered that erasure, and guns
that are good for nothing, and talk of guns
that is good for nothing, and spring
that is good for flowers, and Jesus for some,
and scotch for others, and “and” for me
in this poem, “and” that is good
for sewing the minutes together, which otherwise
go about going away, bereft of us and us
of them. Like a scarf left on a train and nothing
like a scarf left on a train. As if the train,
empty of everything but a scarf, still opens
its doors at every stop, because this
is what a train does, this is what a man does
with his hand on a lever, because otherwise,
why the lever, why the hand, and then it was over,
and then it had just begun.

Poem – Full Flight

I’m in a plane that will not be flown into a building.
It’s a SAAB 340, seats 40, has two engines with propellers
is why I think of beanies, those hats that would spin
a young head into the clouds. The plane is red and loud
inside like it must be loud in the heart, red like fire
and fire engines and the woman two seats up and to the right
resembles one of the widows I saw on TV after the Towers
came down. It’s her hair that I recognize, the fecundity of it
and the color and its obedience to an ideal, the shape
it was asked several hours ago to hold and has held, a kind
of wave that begins at the forehead and repeats with slight
variations all the way to the tips, as if she were water
and a pebble had been continuously dropped into the mouth
of her existence. We are eighteen thousand feet over America.
People are typing at their laps, blowing across the fog of coffee,
sleeping with their heads on the windows, on the pattern
of green fields and brown fields, streams and gas stations
and swimming pools, blue dots of aquamarine that suggest
we’ve domesticated the mirage. We had to kill someone,
I believe, when the metal bones burned and the top
fell through the bottom and a cloud made of dust and memos
and skin muscled across Manhattan. I remember feeling
I could finally touch a rifle, that some murders
are an illumination of ethics, that they act as a word,
a motion the brain requires for which there is
no syllable, no breath. The moment the planes had stopped,
when we were afraid of the sky, there was a pause
when we could have been perfectly American,
could have spent infinity dollars and thrown a million
bodies at finding the few, lasering our revenge
into a kind of love, the blood-hunger kept exact
and more convincing for its precision, an expression
of our belief that proximity is never the measure of guilt.
We’ve lived in the sky again for some years and today
on my lap these pictures from Iraq, naked bodies
stacked into a pyramid of ha-ha and the articles
about broomsticks up the ass and the limbs of children
turned into stubble, we are punch-drunk and getting even
with the sand, with the map, with oil, with ourselves
I think listening to the guys behind me. There’s a problem
in Alpena with an inventory control system, some switches
are being counted twice, switches for what I don’t know—
switches of humor, of faith—but the men are musical
in their jargon, both likely born in New Delhi
and probably Americans now, which is what the flesh
of this country has been, a grafted pulse, an inventory
of the world, and just as the idea of embrace
moves chemically into my blood, and I’m warmed
as if I’ve just taken a drink, a voice announces
we’ve begun our descent, and then I sense the falling.

Poem – Mack The Knife

Oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear
And he shows them pearly white.
Just a jack knife has Macheath, dear
And he keeps it out of sight.

When the shark bites with his teeth, dear
Scarlet billows start to spread.
Fancy gloves, though, wears Macheath, dear
So there’s not a trace of red.

On the side-walk Sunday morning
Lies a body oozing life;
Someone’s sneaking ’round the corner.
Is that someone Mack the Knife?

From a tugboat by the river
A cement bag’s dropping down;
The cement’s just for the weight, dear.
Bet you Mackie’s back in town.

Louie Miller disappeared, dear
After drawing out his cash;
And Macheath spends like a sailor.
Did our boy do something rash?

Sukey Tawdry, Jenny Diver,
Polly Peachum, Lucy Brown
Oh, the line forms on the right, dear
Now that Mackie’s back in town.

Poem – Radio Poem

You little box, held to me escaping
So that your valves should not break
Carried from house to house to ship from sail to train,
So that my enemies might go on talking to me,
Near my bed, to my pain
The last thing at night, the first thing in the morning,
Of their victories and of my cares,
Promise me not to go silent all of a sudden.

Poem – United Front Song

And because a man is human
He’ll want to eat, and thanks a lot
But talk can’t take the place of meat
or fill an empty pot.

So left, two, three!
So left, two, three!
Comrade, there’s a place for you.
Take your stand in the workers united front
For you are a worker too.

And because a man is human
he won’t care for a kick in the face.
He doesn’t want slaves under him
Or above him a ruling class.

So left, two, three!
So left, two, three!
Comrade, there’s a place for you.
Take your stand in the workers united front
For you are a worker too.

And because a worker’s a worker
No one else will bring him liberty.
It’s nobody’s work but the worker’ own
To set the worker free.

So left, two, three!
So left, two, three!
Comrade, there’s a place for you.
Take your stand in the workers united front
For you are a worker too.

Poem – Alabama Song

Show me the way to the next whisky bar
Oh, don’t ask why, oh, don’t ask why
Show me the way to the next whisky bar
Oh, don’t ask why, oh, don’t ask why
For if we don’t find the next whisky bar
I tell you we must die
I tell you we must die
I tell you
I tell you
I tell you we must die

Oh, moon of Alabama
We now must say say good-bye
We’ve lost our good old mamma
And must have whisky
Oh, you know why.

Show me the way to the next pretty girl
Oh, don’t ask why, oh, don’t ask why
Show me the way to the next pretty girl
Oh don’t ask why, oh, don’t ask why
For if we don’t find the next pretty girl
I tell you we must die
I tell you we must die
I tell you
I tell you
I tell you we must die

Oh, moon of Alabama
We now must say good-bye
We’ve lost our good old mamma
And must have a girl
Oh, you know why.

Show me the way to the next little dollar
Oh, don’t ask why, oh, don’t ask why
Show me the way to the next little dollar
Oh, don’t ask why, oh, don’t ask why
For if we don’t find the next little dollar
I tell you we must die
I tell you we must die
I tell you
I tell you
I tell you we must die

Oh, moon of Alabama
We now must say good-bye
We’ve lost our good old mamma
And must have dollars
Oh, you know why.

Poem – Fragen

Schreib mir, was du anhast! Ist es warm?
Schreib mir, wie du liegst! Liegst du auch weich?
Schreib mir, wie du aussiehst! Ist´s noch gleich?
Schreib mir, was dir fehlt! Ist es mein Arm?

Schreib mir, wie´s dir geht! Verschont man dich?
Schreib mir, was sie treiben! Reicht dein Mut?
Schreib mir, was du tust! Ist es auch gut?
Schreib mir, woran denkst du? Bin es ich?

Freilich hab ich dir nur meine Fragen!
Und die Antwort hör ich, wie sie fällt!
Wenn du müd bist, kann ich dir nichts tragen.

Hungerst du, hab ich dir nichts zu Essen.
Und so bin ich grad wie aus der Welt
Nicht mehr da, als hätt ich dich vergessen.

Poem – Duke

He was hit back of the head for a haul of $15,
a Diner’s Club Card and picture of his daughter in a helmet
on a horse tethered to a pole that centered
its revolving universe. Pacing the halls, he’d ask

for a blow job he didn’t want. The ward’s new visitors
didn’t know this request was all the injury
had left him to say, and would be shamed or pissed,
a few hitting him as he stood with his mouth

slightly open and large frame leaning in. His wife
divorced him for good and blameless reasons. He would not
be coming home to share his thoughts on film and weather,
or remembering her any longer than it took to leave a room.

He liked ham. Kept newspapers in drawers and under his bed,
each unread page hand-pressed flat. And when it snowed
he leaned into one of the sealed, unbreakable windows,
a cheek to the cool glass as he held his fingers

over his mouth and moaned low and constant like the sound
of a boat on the far side of a lake. When he died
they cut him open to see how his habits had been rewired
and so tightly looped. Having known him they were afraid

of what can happen when you cross the lot to the office
or pull up to a light and thump the wheel as you might
any hour. If you stare at the dyed
and beautiful cross sections of a brain, it’s natural

to wonder how we extract the taste of coffee
or sense of a note accurately found and held on an oboe
from this bramble. On Duke’s slides they circled
the regions of blight which explain

why almost all behavior we recognize as human was lost,
but not why a man who’d curl into a ball
like a caterpillar when barely touched, could only ask
for sex, for intimacy, for the very thing

he could least accept and lived twelve years without,
no embrace or caress, no kiss on the lips before sleep,
until he died in the lounge looking out on winter sky
that seemed eager to snow all day but didn’t.

Poem – Sudden Movements 

My father’s head has become a mystery to him.
We finally have something in common.
When he moves his head his eyes
get big as roses filled
with the commotion of spring.
Not long ago he was a man
who had tomato soup for lunch
and dusted with the earnestness
of a gun fight. Now he’s a man
who sits at the table trying to breathe
in tiny bites. When they told him
his spinal column is closing, I thought
of all the branches he’s cut
with loppers and piled and burned
in the fall, the pinch of the blades
on the green and vital pulp. Surgeons
can fuse vertebrae, a welders art,
and scrape the ring through which
the soul-wires flow as a dentist
would clean your teeth.
And still it could happen, one turn
of his head toward a hummingbird,
wings keeping that brittle life
afloat, working hard against the fall,
and he might freeze in that pose
of astonishment, a man estranged
from the neck down, who can only share
with his body the silence
he’s pawned on his children as love.

Poem – By Their Works

Who cleaned up the Last Supper?
These would be my people.
Maybe hung over, wanting
desperately a better job,
standing with rags
in hand as the window
beckons with hills
of yellow grass. In Da Vinci,
the blue robed apostle
gesturing at Christ
is saying, give Him the check.
What a mess they’ve made
of their faith. My God
would put a busboy
on earth to roam
among the waiters
and remind them to share
their tips. The woman
who finished one
half eaten olive
and scooped the rest
into her pockets,
walked her tiny pride home
to children who looked
at her smile and saw
the salvation of a meal.
All that week
at work she ignored
customers who talked
of Rome and silk
and crucifixions,
though she couldn’t stop
thinking of this man
who said thank you
each time she filled
His glass.

Poem – Cemetery

Who whispers here is forgotten.

Saliva’s emptiest fruit
adorns the stones,
words ripening your mouth
to a spoilation
of silence.

Who speaks here
reads a text that downloads
the screen of his fingernail,
through which nothing’s visible
as glass is.

For the memorial
we must kneel
to pick each flower
from amongst its modifiers:
but to do that
one needs a hand bared
of all uses, of all trades:
as ours is not.

Poem – The Golden Age

is thought to be a confession, won by endless
torture, but which our interrogators must
hate to record—all those old code names, dates,
the standard narrative of sandpaper
throats, even its remorse, fall ignored. Far

away, a late (not lost) messenger stares,
struck by window bargains or is it the gift
of a sudden solicitude: is she going to
lift up her shadow’s weight, shift hers
onto it? She knows who bears whom. In

that momentary museum where memory occurs
more accrue of those torturers’ pincers than
lessened fingernails, eyes teased to a pulp,
we beg for closeups. Ormolus, objets d’art!
A satyr drains an hourglass with one gulp.

Poem – Feeding the Sun

One day we notice that the sun
needs feeding. Immediately
a crash program begins: we fill rockets
with wheat, smoke-rings, razorblades, then,
after long aiming
–they’re off. Hulls specially alloyed
so as not to melt before the stuff
gets delivered we pour cattle rivers windmills,
aborigines etcet into the sun which
however, grows stubbornly
smaller, paler. Finally
of course we run out of things to feed the thing,
start shipping ourselves. By now
all the planets-moons-asteroids and
so on have been shoveled in though they’re
not doing much good it’s
still looking pretty weak, heck, nothing helps!
Now the last few of us left lift off.
The trip seems forever but then, touchdown.
Just before entering we wonder,
will we be enough. There’s
a last-second doubt in our minds: can we,
can this final sacrifice, our broughten crumb,
satiate
it–will a glutteral belch burst out then at last,–
and will that Big Burp be seen by far-off telescopes,
interpreted as a nova
by those other galaxies,
those further stars which have always seemed even more
starving
than ours?

Poem – What Would Freud Say

Wasn’t on purpose that I drilled
through my finger or the nurse
laughed. She apologized
three times and gave me a shot
of something that was a lusher
apology. The person
who drove me home
said my smile was a smeared
totem that followed
his body that night as it arced
over a cliff in a dream.
He’s always flying
in his dreams and lands
on cruise ships or hovers
over Atlanta with an erection.
He put me to bed and the drugs
wore off and I woke
to cannibals at my extremities.
I woke with a sense
of what nails in the palms
might do to a spirit
temporarily confined to flesh.
That too was an accident
if you believe Judas
merely wanted to be loved.
To be loved by God,
Urban the 8th
had heads cut off
that were inadequately
bowed by dogma. To be loved
by Blondie, Dagwood
gets nothing right
except the hallucinogenic
architecture of sandwiches.
He would have drilled
through a finger too
while making a case for books
on home repair and health.
Drilling through my finger’s
not the dumbest thing
I’ve done. Second place
was approaching
a frozen gas-cap with lighter
in hand while thinking
heat melts ice and not
explosion kills asshole. First
place was passing
through a bedroom door
and removing silk that did not
belong to my wife.
Making a bookcase is not
the extent of my apology.
I’ve also been beaten up
in a bar for saying huevos
rancheros in a way
insulting to the patrons’
ethnicity. I’ve also lost
my job because lying
face down on the couch
didn’t jibe with my employer’s
definition of home
office. I wanted her to come
through the door on Sunday
and see the bookcase
she’d asked me to build
for a year and be impressed
that it didn’t lean
or wobble even though
I’ve only leaned and often
wobbled. Now it’s half
done but certainly
a better gift with its map
of my unfaithful blood.

Poem – O My Pa Pa

Our  father   have formed a poetry workshop.
They sit in a circle of disappointment over our fastballs
and wives. We thought they didn’t read our stuff,
whole anthologies of poems that begin, My father never,
or those that end, and he was silent as a carp,
or those with middles which, if you think
of the right side as a sketch, look like a paunch
of beer and worry, but secretly, with flashlights
in the woods, they’ve read every word and noticed
that our nine happy poems have balloons and sex
and giraffes inside, but not one dad waving hello
from the top of a hill at dusk. Theirs
is the revenge school of poetry, with titles like
‘My Yellow Sheet Lad’ and ‘Given Your Mother’s Taste
for Vodka, I’m Pretty Sure You’re Not Mine.’
They’re not trying to make the poems better
so much as sharper or louder, more like a fishhook
or electrocution, as a group
they overcome their individual senilities,
their complete distaste for language, how cloying
it is, how like tears it can be, and remember
every mention of their long hours at the office
or how tired they were when they came home,
when they were dragged through the door
by their shadows. I don’t know why it’s so hard
to write a simple and kind poem to my father, who worked,
not like a dog, dogs sleep most of the day in a ball
of wanting to chase something, but like a man, a man
with seven kids and a house to feed, whose absence
was his presence, his present, the Cheerios,
the PF Flyers, who taught me things about trees,
that they’re the most intricate version of standing up,
who built a grandfather clock with me so I would know
that time is a constructed thing, a passing, ticking fancy.
A bomb. A bomb that’ll go off soon for him, for me,
and I notice in our fathers’ poems a reciprocal dwelling
on absence, that they wonder why we disappeared
as soon as we got our licenses, why we wanted
the rocket cars, as if running away from them
to kiss girls who looked like mirrors of our mothers
wasn’t fast enough, and it turns out they did
start to say something, to form the words hey
or stay, but we’d turned into a door full of sun,
into the burning leave, and were gone
before it came to them that it was all right
to shout, that they should have knocked us down
with a hand on our shoulders, that they too are mystified
by the distance men need in their love.

Poem – The Maple

is a system of posture for wood.
A way of not falling down
for twigs that happens
to benefit birds. I don’t know.
I’m staring at a tree,
at yellow leaves
threshed by wind and want you
reading this to be staring
at the same tree. I could
cut it down and laminate it
or ask you to live with me
on the stairs with the window
keeping an eye on the maple
but I think your real life
would miss you. The story
here is that all morning
I’ve thought of the statement
that art is about loneliness
while watching golden leaves
become unhinged.
By ones or in bunches
they tumble and hang
for a moment like a dress
in the dryer.
At the laundromat
you’ve seen the arms
thrown out to catch the shirt
flying the other way.
Just as you’ve stood
at the bottom of a gray sky
in a pile of leaves
trying to lick them
back into place.

Poem – The Solutions

After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

Poem – Questions

Write me what you’re wearing! Is it warm?
Write me how you lie! Do you lie there softly?
Write me how you look! Is it still the same?
Write me what you’re missing! Is it my arm?

Write me how you are! Have you been spared?
Write me what they’re doing! Do you have enough courage?
Write me what you’re doing! Is it good?
Write me, who are you thinking of? Is it me?

Freely, I’ve given you only my questions.
And I hear the answers, how they fall.
When you’re tired, I can’t carry it for you.

If you’re hungry, I have nothing for you to eat.
And so now I leave the world
No longer there, as if I’ve forgotten you.

Poem – Tomorrow’s Wind

Why am I without joy,
achieving everything,
but grasping
nothing at all?
I dream of the wind
that has overtaken me,
the wind
that has leaped over me.
It shreds
all the telephone lines that sag
from unending chatter,
and all that’s wasted,
all that’s turned sour
it catapults
into oblivion.
All sorts of butwhatifers,
shaking,
like jelly in jackets,
whirled up in a vortex,
like fallen leaves,
shout down indignantly:
‘How come? ‘
Where there’s no wind,
there’s no faith.
Let clammy red pencils
be strewn
among the reeds,
scattered madly
by tomorrow’s wind.
Wind
does not crawl
before idols,
it swirls scraps
of newspapers and posters,
yesterday’s glories,
turning somersaults
over warped roofs.
As if it had swilled
the Decembrists’ hot punch,
tipsy,
the wind flings upward
all the important little papers
that press us down
to the ground.
The wind
showers
under constellations
the garbage
in which the world is bogged down:
automobiles,
which have ridden over people,
furniture,
which has sprawled on us.
The wind
pulls away from sticky screens
all the bewitched
simpletons and fools,

and without thinking
plants them
like shashlik
on the spike of their beloved TV tower…
Timid youth,
I am preaching to you:
Charge forward,
headlong into the epoch,
without wasting
the wind of history
either on fads
or the flimsy.
Each
new generation
must create
a special wind.
If it doesn’t shake
bits of dust,
young people
should send
an SOS.
Youth
is the age for a fresh airing.
In old age
it’s harder to be precocious,
if you put off
being young
in your youth.
Is it possible for you
all to be unfit?
Suck in the time
with a feverous mouth.
The calm will be
inhaled by you,
by the wind
exhaled
afterward.
And the wind,
making a gift of itself
to the universe,
is born,
sprawling
in a burst,
and structures
built on sand
rightfully will crumble.
And I, having reared
these structures not a little,
will look on happily,
blaming no one,
as it withdraws,
arching its mane,
the wind
that has leaped over me.

Poem – Wounds

I have been wounded so often and so painfully,
dragging my way home at the merest crawl,
impaled not only by malicious tongues-
one can be wounded even by a petal.

And I myself have wounded-quite unwittingly-
with casual tenderness while passing by,
and later someone felt the pain,
it was like walking barefoot over the ice.

So why do I step upon the ruins
of those most near and dear to me,
I, who can be so simply and so sharply wounded
and can wound others with such deadly ease?

Poem – I Dreamed I Already

I dreamed I already loved you.
I dreamed I already killed you.

But you rose again; another form, but you,
a girl on the little ball of the earth,
naive simplicity, curve-necked
on that early canvas of Picasso,
and prayed to me with your ribs:
‘Love me, ‘ as though you said, ‘Don’t push me off.’

I’m that played-out, grown-up acrobat,
hunchbacked with senseless muscles,
who knows that advice is a lie,
that sooner or later there’s falling.

I’m too scared to say: ‘I love you, ‘
because I’d be saying: ‘I’ll kill you.’

For in the depths of a face I can see through
I see the faces-can’t count them-
that, right on the spot, or maybe
not right away, I tortured to death.

You’re pale from the mortal balance. You say:
‘I know everything; I was all of them.
I know you’ve already loved me.
I know you’ve already killed me.
But I won’t spin the globe backwards:
Love again, and then kill again.’

Lord, you’re young. Stop your globe.
I’m tired of killing. I’m not a damn thing but old.

You move the earth beneath your little feet,
you fall, ‘Love me.’
It’s only in those eyes, so similar, you say:
‘This time don’t kill me! ‘

Poem – Murder

No one sleeps more beautifully than you.
But I am afraid
that you will waken just now,
and touch me with an indifferent glance, lightly passing,
and commit the murder of beauty.

Poem – Idol

Down in the pine needles
in the snowstorm-stogged ravine
an Evenki idol stands
fixing his eyes on the taiga.

Aggressively squinting,
he watched until the time came
when Evenki women started
hauling presents to him.

They brought him mukluks and parkas,
they brought him honey and fur,
figuring that he’d pray
but mainly think for them all.

In the dark assurance
that he’d understand,
they’d smear his mouth
with warm deer blood.

But what could he do, the phony
little god,
with his fierce, wooden
whittled-down soul?

Now he’s looking through the branches,
abandoned and dead.
No one believes in him;
no one prays to him.

Did I just dream this up? At night
in his ravine, far off yonder,
he sets his eyes
on fire, overgrown with moss,

And listening to the snowstorm
blast down, licks
his lips. Lord, I know it.
He wants blood.

Poem – Poetry Gives off Smoke

Poetry gives off smoke
but it doesn’t die out.
It acts kind of crazy, flutteringly,
when it chooses us.
This fellow’s no fool,
sucking tranquillizers,
toting in a little briefcase
a boiled beet-root.
Right now he’d like a mousse
or baba au rhum,
but the Muse-
some kind of Muse! –
grabs him
by the scruff of the neck!
Thoughts drill a hole in his forehead,
and he’s mislaid the spoon-
and he’s a giant! Socrates, for the Lord’s sake…
in an Oblomov dust-jacket. O.K….
he’s no Apollo-
he’s puny and ugly,
skinny: he’s like a golden mushroom,
unsteady…
transparent.
But suddenly some sort of whistling
is in his ears, and then…
a period!
And like a slugger’s hook
across the chops of the ages,
a line!
And there
an insane little bird
falls off its feet,
a crazy rag-picker,
drunk,
a kind of society clown. But something gives her the word
and-
like branches in winter,
God rings from within, and her eyelids turn
to marble.
And here’s a bum
a shaman,
really-
from among the lunatics!
Pour him champagne,
bring him
women, not rum cakes!
Suddenly an order from within
will come through sternly, and he’s the instant
voice of the people, damned near
Savonarola!

Poetry acts kind of strange, it flutters
when it chooses us.
And it has no mercy, either,
afterwards. It stamps ‘Pure Souls’
on us…but who’s the judge?
Yes,
for the horse-blinkered multitudes we’re ‘decadents, ‘
but for ourselves, we ourselves are… are…
well, yes! Redemption!

Poem – My Universities

I learned not only from those
who brightly beam out of golden frames,
but from everyone whose ID photo
didn’t come out quite right.
More than from Tolstoy
I learned from blind beggars
who sang in train cars about Count Tolstoy.
From barracks
I learned more than from Pasternak
and my verse style was hot ‘barracko’.
I took lessons on Yesenin
in snack bars from invalids of war
who tore their striped sailor shirts
after spilling out their plain secrets.
Mayakovsky’s stepped verse
didn’t give me as much
as the dirty steps of staircases
with handrails polished by kids’ pants.
I learned in Zima Junction
from my most untalkative Grannies
not to be afraid of cuts, scratches,
and various other scrapes.
I learned from dead-end streets that smell of cats,
from crooked spattered lanes,
to be sharper than a knife,
more ordinary than a cigarette butt.
Empty lots were my shepherds.
Waiting lines my nursing mothers.
I learned from all the young toughs
who gave me a whipping.
I learned
from pale-faced harried hacks
with fatal content in their verse
and empty content in their pockets.
I learned from all the oddballs in attics,
from the dress cutter Alka
who kissed me
in the dark of a communal kitchen.
I was put together out of the birthmarks of the Motherland
from scratches and scars,
cradles and cemeteries,
hovels and temples.
My first globe was a rag ball,
without foreign threads,
with brick crumbs sticking to it,
and when I forced my way to
the real globe,
I saw-it was also made of scraps
and also subject to blows.
And I cursed the bloody soccer game,
where they play with the planet without refs or rules,
and any tiny scrap of the planet,
which I touched,
I celebrated!
I went round the planet
as if it were a gigantic Zima Station,
and I learned from the wrinkles of old women,
now Vietnamese, now Peruvian.
I learned folk wisdom
taught by the worldwide poor and scum,
the Eskimo’s smell for ice,
and the Italian’s smiling non-despair.
I learned from Harlem
not to consider poverty poor,
like a Black
whose face is only painted white.
And I understood that the majority bends
its neck on behalf of others,
and in the wrinkles of those necks
the minority hides as if in trenches.
I am branded with the brand of the majority.
I want to be their food and shelter.
I am the name of all without names.
I am a writer for all who don’t write.
I am a writer
created by readers,
and readers are created by me.
My debt has been paid.
Here I am
your creator and your creation,
an anthology of you,
a second edition of your lives.
I stand more naked than Adam,
rejecting court tailors,
the embodiment of imperfections-
yours and my own.
I stand on the ruins
of loves I destroyed.
The ashes of friendships and hopes
coldly fly through my fingers.
Choking on muteness
and the last man to get in line,
I would die for any one of you,
because each of you is my homeland.
I am dying from love
and I howl with pain like a wolf.
If I despise you-
I despise myself even more.
I could fail without you.
Help me to be my real self,
not to stoop to pride,
not to fall into heaven.
I am a shopping bag stuffed
with all the world’s shoppers.
I am everybody’s photographer,
a paparazzo of the infamous.
I am your common portrait,
where so much remains to be painted.
Your faces are my Louvre,
my private Prado.
I am like a video player,
whose cassettes are loaded with you.
I am an attempt at diaries by others
and an attempt at a worldwide newspaper.
You have written yourself
with my tooth-marked pen.
I don’t want to teach you.
I want to learn from you.

Poem – Girl Beatnik

This girl comes from New York
but she does not belong.
Along the neon lights, this girl
runs away from herself.

To this girl the world seems odious-
a moralist who’s been howled down.
It holds no more truths for her.
Now the ‘twist’ alone is true.

With hair mussed and wild,
in spectacles and a coarse sweater,
on spiked heels she dances
the thinnest of negations.

Everything strikes her as false,
everything-from the Bible to the press.
The Montagues exist, and the Capulets,
but there are no Romeos and Juliets.

The trees stoop broodingly,
and rather drunkenly the moon
staggers like a beatnik sulking
along the milky avenue.

Wanders, as if from bar to bar,
wrapped in thought, unsocial,
and the city spreads underneath
in all its hard-hearted beauty.

All things look hard-the roofs and walls,
and it’s no accident that, over the city,
the television antennae rise
like crucifixions without Christ.

Poem – The Mail Cutter

The ice had not even begun to break,
no boat could possibly sail yet,
but the letters lay in a pile at the post office,
with all their requests and instructions.

Among them trying vainly to leave,
in the scrawls of fishermen,
were reproaches, complaints, cries,
awkward confessions of love.

In vain the huskies gazed out to sea,
searching the waves through the fog,
lying like gray hillocks
on the bottoms of overturned boats.

But, like a ghost, dreamed up
from the desperate monotony,
the ice-covered mail boat
showed her gray masts.

She was beaten up and dirty,
but to the fishing village
her chilly, husky voice
sounded like the sweetest music.

And the gloomy sailors, throwing us a line
to the shore, like Vikings,
silently, skillfully
carried canvas sacks full of people’s souls.

And again the ship went out, tiredly,
her hull breaking the ice with difficulty,
and I sat in her dank hold
among the piled sacks.

Tormented, I searched for an answer
with all my restless conscience:
‘Just what am I, in fact,
and where am I going? ‘

Can it be I am like a frail boat,
and that the passions, like the waves, roll
and toss me about? ‘ But my inner voice
answered me: ‘You are a mail boat.

Make speed through the angry waves,
heavy with ice, to all those people
who have been seperated by the ice,
who are waiting to get in touch again.

And like the first sign of the ship
for which people waited so long,
carry onward the undying light
of the duty that links us together.

And along the foaming arctic sea of life,
through all the ice and against the nor’wester,
carry with you those mailbags
full of hopelessness and hopes.

But remember, as you hang on the whistle,
as soon as the storms die down,
steamers, real ships,
will go through these waters, not afraid anymore.

And the fishermen, standing up in the barges,
will look admiringly at them,
and their sleek, velvety whistles
and make them forget your husky voice.

But you, with the stink of fish and blubber,
don’t lower your rigging gloomily.
You’ve done the job on schedule.
Be happy then. You are the mail cutter.’

Thus the inner voice spoke to me,
impressing upon me the burden of prophecy.
And amid the white night of the Arctic Ocean
somehow it was all morning for me.

I didn’t think enviously
of someone else, covered with honours,
I was simply happy that a few things
also depended on me.

And covered in someone’s fur coat,
I was dependent on so much,
and like that letter from Vanka Zhukov,
I dozed on heaps of other letters.

Poem – You are Great in Love

You are great in love.
You are bold.
My every step is timid.
I’ll do nothing bad to you,
but can hardly do you any good.
It seems you are
leading me
off the beaten path through a forest.
Now we’re up to our waist in wildflowers.
I don’t even know
what flowers they are.
Past experience is of no help here.
I don’t know
what to do or how.
You’re tired.
You ask to be carried in my arms.
Already you’re in my arms.
‘Do you see
how blue the sky is?
Do you hear
what birds are in the forest?
Well, what are you waiting for?
Well?
Carry me then! ‘
And where shall I carry you? …

Poem – Wounds

I have been wounded so often and so painfully,
dragging my way home at the merest crawl,
impaled not only by malicious tongues-
one can be wounded even by a petal.

And I myself have wounded-quite unwittingly-
with casual tenderness while passing by,
and later someone felt the pain,
it was like walking barefoot over the ice.

So why do I step upon the ruins
of those most near and dear to me,
I, who can be so simply and so sharply wounded
and can wound others with such deadly ease?

Poem – Waiting

My love will come
will fling open her arms and fold me in them,
will understand my fears, observe my changes.
In from the pouring dark, from the pitch night
without stopping to bang the taxi door
she’ll run upstairs through the decaying porch
burning with love and love’s happiness,
she’ll run dripping upstairs, she won’t knock,
will take my head in her hands,
and when she drops her overcoat on a chair,
it will slide to the floor in a blue heap.

Poem – Vietnam Classic

The Vietnam classic
was a seventy-year-old child,
with the face of a tired, wise turtle.
Not from his own extraordinary fame
did he suffer,
but from the fact
that he was in fear
of the behavior of a red-haired tomcat
that followed after us with an ulterior motive.
The cat reclined on a bookshelf,
choosing a volume of Saint-John Perse as his mat.
The Vietnam classic kept a wary eye
when he tossed three pepper pods on a saucer,
though cats-
when sitting half-starved-
won’t eat, perhaps, only peppers.
A prose writer,
but, in essence, a poet,
though afraid of not entertaining,
as one should-
the classic never once fell to complaining
that
there wasn’t a spare crust in the house.
He poured a dropp of whiskey in a glass of water,
and over an alcohol-lamp,
with a rolling laugh,
heated small pieces of cuttlefish-
a dried delicacy of war.
In him was the striking,
deeply moving,
spiritual staying power of a Buddhist,
and on a bicyclist’s trouser leg
was a forgotten clothespin.
Dismissing with a hand the flames of battle,
he spoke of Bo Tzu-i,
Baudelaire,
and I thought:
‘What could be meaner-
than to destroy such a man! ‘
And fear
pierced through,
broke through,
burned through me:
the tomcat
made a jump
from the bookshelf.
Burning hunger had flared up in him.
The cat landed near a bottle
and snatched a piece of cuttlefish in his teeth
right from my fork.
The host in Vietnamese screamed:
‘Scat! ‘
and, dismayed by the tactless act,
spread his hands,
visibly afraid,
that I will consider it all unseemly.
I took the cat joylessly in my arms.
The cat himself was none too joyful about the theft,
and I froze with numbness,
when
suddenly I sensed:
he weighed nothing.
A red-haired bit of nature and a warm grain of sand,
trying to arch his back like a wheel,
he was weightless in my palms,
like the fluff of a poplar.
‘Forgive me…’-
sadly glimmered in his pupils.
And nothing-
I say in all conscience-
did I ever hold in my hands heavier
than the weight of that terrifying weightlessness.

Poem – Ballad About Drinking

We had slaughtered a hundred white whales,
civilization was quite forgotten,
our lungs were burned out from smoking shag,
but on sighting port we blew out our chests like barrels
and began to speak to one another politely,
and with the noble goal of drinking
we went ashore from the schooner at Amderma.

In Amderma we walked like gods,
swaggering along with our hands on our hips,
and through the port our beards and sidewhiskers
kept their bearings on the pub,
and passing girls and shellbacks
as well as all the local dogs
went along with us as escort.

But, clouding the whole planet,
a notice hung in the shop: ‘No Spirits! ‘
We looked at some sparkling wine from the Don
as if it were feeble fruit juice,
and through our agonized yearning
we realized-it wouldn’t work.

Now who could have drunk our spirits, our vodka?
It’s dreadful the way people drink-simply ruinous.
But skinny as a skeleton, Petka Markovsky from Odessa,
as it always happens with him,
suddenly disappeared somewhere
giving a secretive ‘Sh-sshh! ‘

And shortly afterward, with much clinking,
he turned up with a huge cardboard box,
already slightly merry,
and it was a sweet clinking the box made
as we woke up to the fact: ‘There she is! She’s apples! ‘
and Markovsky gave us the wink: ‘She’s right! ‘

We made a splash, waving to everyone-
Chartered a deluxe room in the hotel
and sat down as we were on the bed.
Cords flew off the box
and there, in the glittering columns of the bottles,
bulging, stern, cosy,
absolutely hygienic-
triple-distilled eau de cologne stood before us!

And Markovsky rose, lifting his glass,
pulled down his seaman’s jacket,
and began: ‘I’d like to say something…’
‘Then say it! ‘ everyone began to shout.
But before anything else
they wanted to wet their whistles.

Markovsky said: ‘Come on-let’s have a swig!
The doctor told me eau de cologne
is the best thing to keep the wrinkles away.
Let them judge us! -We don’t give a damn!
We used to drink all sorts of wine!
When we were in Germany
we filled the radiators of our tanks
with wine from the Mosel.

We don’t need consumer goods!
We need the wind, the sky!
Old mates, listen to this
in our souls, as though in the safe deposit:
We have the sea, our mothers and young brothers-
All the rest…is rubbish! ‘

Bestriding the earth like a giant,
Markovsky stood with a glass in his hand
that held the foaming seas.
The skipper observed: ‘Everything is shipshape! ‘
and only the boatswain sobbed like a child:
‘But my mother is dead…’

And we all began to burst into tears,
quite easily, quite shamelessly,
as if in the midst of our own families,
mourning with bitter tears
at first for the boatswain’s mother,
and afterward simply for ourselves.

Already a rueful notice hung in the chemist’s shop-
‘No Triple Eau de Cologne’-
but eight of us sea wolves
sobbed over almost all of Russia!
And in our sobs we reeked
like eight barbershops.

Tears, like squalls,
swept away heaps of false values,
of puffed-up names,
and quietly remaining inside us
was only the sea, our mothers and young brothers-
even the mother who was dead…

I wept as though I was being set free,
I wept as if I was being born anew,
a different person from what I’d been,
and before God and before myself,
like the tears of those drunken whalemen,
my soul was pure.

Poem – Being Late

Something dangerous is beginning:
I am coming late to my own self.
I made an appointment with my thoughts-
the thoughts were snatched from me.
I made an appointment with Faulkner-
but they made me go to a banquet.
I made an appointment with history,
but a grass-widow dragged me into bed.
Worse than barbed wire
are birthday parties, mine and others’,
and roasted suckling pigs hold me
like a sprig of parsley between their teeth!
Led away for good
to a life absolutely not my own,
everything that I eat, eats me,
everything that I drink, drinks me.
I made an appointment with myself,
but they invite me to feast on my own spareribs.
I am garlanded from all sides
not by strings of bagels, but by the holes of bagels,
and I look like an anthology of zeros.
Life gets broken into hundreds of lifelets,
that exhaust and execute me.
In order to get through to myself
I had to smash my body against others’,
and my fragments, my smithereens,
are trampled by the roaring crowd.
I am trying to glue myself together,
but my arms are still severed.
I’d write with my left leg,
but both the left and the right
have run off, in different directions.
I don’t know- where is my body?
And soul? Did it really fly off,
without a murmured ‘good-bye! ‘?
How do I break through to a faraway namesake,
waiting for me in the cold somewhere?
I’ve forgotten under which clock
I am waiting for myself.
For those who don’t know who they are,
time does not exist.
No one is under the clock.
On the clock there is nothing.
I am late for my appointment
with me. There is no one.
Nothing but cigarette butts.
Only one flicker-
A lonely, dying, spark…P

Poem – Humor

Tsars, Kings, Emperors,
sovereigns of all the earth,
have commanded many a parade,
but they could not command humor.
When Aesop, the tramp, came visiting
the palaces of eminent personages
ensconced in sleek comfort all day,
they struck him as paupers.
In houses, where hypocrites have
left the smear of their puny feet,
there Hodja-Nasr-ed-Din, with his jests,
swept clean all meanness
like a board of chessmen!
They tried to commission humor-
but humor is not to be bought!
They tried to murder humor,
but humor thumbed his nose at them!
It’s hard to fight humor.
They executed him time and again.
His hacked-off head
was stuck on the point of a pike.
But as soon as the mummer’s pipes
began their quipping tale,
humor defiantly cried:
‘I’m back, I’m here! ‘,
and started to foot a dance.
in an overcoat, shabby and short,
with eyes cast down and a mask of repentance,
he, a political criminal,
now under arrest, walked to his execution.
He appeared to submit in every way,
accepting the life-beyond,
but of a sudden he wriggled out of his coat,
and, waving his hand, did a bolt.
Humor was shoved into cells,
but much good that did.
Humor went straight through
prison bars and walls of stone.
Coughing from the lungs
like any man in the ranks,
he marched singing a popular ditty,
rifle in hand upon the Winter Palace.
He’s accustomed to frowning looks,
but they do him no harm;
and humor at times with humor
glances at himself.
He’s everpresent. Nimble and quick,
he’ll slip through anything, through everyone.
So- glory be to humor.
He- is a valiant man.

Poem – Eight Year Old Poet

On the platform, in Pasternak’s unerased footprints,
leaving behind your own print,
you stand a moment with me in farewell,
eight-year-old poet.

I can’t understand your origins
or from which kind of rain you come.
Created almost in a vacuum, Nika,
you part the rain with a mere glance.

You simply stopped being a child,
burning, tormenting yourself.
As soon as you learned to stand,
you spat your pacifier into the fire.

A secret little queen,
you and your crown have grown into one.
Each illness you’ve survived
is a heavy jewel in your tiara.

I fear that you will suddenly shatter,
and the invisible ring
of the freshly forged white-hot crown
will scorch your childish bangs.

A pencil in your fingers is heavier than a scepter;
your notebook has iron pages.
If a chasm opens at your feet,
you have nothing to lose but your childhood.

Might this be our salvation from a lack of poets,
when children as if from a cliff
leap directly into the poetry-abyss
to fill up the gap?

If elders fear this profession,
children will avenge them.
Will a nursery bring forth a Homer
and kindergarten a Shakespeare?

Children are secret grown-ups. This torments.
All of us are secret children,
and we’ll never grow up completely,
because we fear the children within.

On the platform, in Pasternak’s eternal footprints,
leaving behind your own print,
you sigh a deep moan inside,
eight-year-old poet.

With a burst you skip and run down the platform,
flying with girlish delight,
but when you stumble on your dropped crown
you are no longer a child.

And from the foot-board your eyes call me
into a life where there is no age.
Farewell! It’s too late for me to jump on your train,
eight-year-old poet.

Sirjana Lai Khoji – Komal Bhatta 

सिर्जनालाई खोजी खोजी चोर्न थाले अचेल भरी
लुटाहारले लुट्दा जस्तै सोर्न थाले अचेल भरी
प्रस्तोता लाई हटाएर लाज र शरम पचाउँदै

आफ्नै नाम र ठेगाना पो कोर्न थाले अचेल भरी
दुनियाँका आँखा भित्र छारो हाल्दै पित्तलमा

सुनको जलप लगाएर मोर्न थाले अचेल भरी
नभन्दानि अचाक्लीभो भन्दा रिसले भुत्भुताउँदै

मित्रतालाई झर्ल्यामझुर्लुम फोर्न थाले अचेल भरी
नैतिकता र इमान्दारी रछान माथि मिर्काएर

सच्चा होइन झुट्टा नाता जोर्न थाले अचेल भरी

Nabin Barsha Jhulkiyo – Acharya Prabha 

हर्षले छायो, मनमा हेर, बिहानी आएर
उमंगसँगै, उदायो सूर्य, झल्मल्ल छाएर।
नविन बर्ष, झुल्कियो अब, लिएर सुखद

सबैको मन, हर्षित बन्यो, आनन्द पाएर ।
बाँच्नेछन् सबै, हाँसोमा रमी, खुशी नै भएर

लडाइँ अब, लड्दैनौ भनि कसम खाएर ।
रगतको खोलो, चाहिन्न अब, सद्भाव चाहिन्छ

बाँचौला सबै, एकार्का माझ, नजिक धाएर ।
नव यो बर्ष, खुशीले मान्दै, मनमा फुलाउँ

मायाको साक्षी, बनेर बाँचौं पिरती लाएर ।

Aakhir Tehi Bhayo – Bhupendra Mahat

आखिर त्यही भयो पित्तलमा सुन दल्नु भो
टलक थियो थेन जलपको भरमा छल्नु भो
उज्यालो छर्न नि पिधमा पुगी सक्यो तेल

धिपधिप गरेर फेरि किन आँफै बल्नु भो
हुकुमको एक्का हपिए चल्ने आँट कसको

खेलाडी मसुर हजुर कत्रो चाल चल्नु भो
बर्तमान थर्कमान हुन्छ जो सित भने

पत्ताउ कसरी,हल्लै रछ हजुर गल्नु भो
रेफ्री आफ्नै मैदान आफ्नै खेलको कुरा न हो

छेक्ने कसले? बल नै हजुरले जो भल्नु भो

Poem – Caedmon’s Hymn 

Now let me praise  the keeper of Heaven’s kingdom, 
The might of the Creator, and his thought, 

The work of the Father of glory, how each of wonders 

The Eternal Lord established in the beginning. 

He first created for the sons of men 

Heaven as a roof, the holy Creator, 

Then Middle-earth the keeper of mankind, 

The Eternal Lord, afterwards made, 

The earth for men, the Almighty Lord. 

Sarta – Shyamal 

जबसम्म नारी बलात्कृत भइरहन्छे
र आकास धुजा धुजा पार्ने गरी

महासागर सुक्ने गरी चिच्याइरहनेछ

जबसम्म चरा कैद गरिएको हुन्छ पिँजडामा

उसले आफ्ना स—साना चुच्चाले

फलामको पिंजडा भत्काउन छाड्ने छैन

परन्तु जीवित नै हुनेछ करुणा र कोमलता

प्रेमीहरूले छिनाल्नेछन् आफुलाई बाँध्ने सिक्रीहरू

प्रेम चलिरहनेछ ।
जबसम्म हत्याराको मुठीमा छटपटिएको हुन्छ न्याय

र पैसा हुन्छ डाँकाको ब्रिफकेशमा

जबसम्म आलमारीका किताबमा बन्द हुन्छ इज्जत

र शिक्षा बेरिएको हुन्छ

काँजो बेरिएजस्तै मास्टरको लट्ठीमा

जबसम्म बसिरहनेछ हत्यारा आरामदायी मेचमा

र मानिसहरु हुनेछन् त्यसभन्दा तल भुईंमा

धर्ती कम्पायमान भइरहनेछ ।
त्यतिन्जेलसम्म जन्मिरहनेछन् स्पार्टाकसहरू

जबसम्म चराहरुले गीत गाउन छाड्ने छैनन्

जबसम्म जमीन बाँझो हुन्छ र

कोदालीले विना काम

कुनामा झोक्राइरहनुपर्छ

किसानले जबसम्म हातमा लाठी लिएर

जमीन जोगाइरहनुपर्छ

क्रोध बढिरहनेछ ।
पानी भएसम्म नदी बगिरहनेछ

चेत भएसम्म मानिस छट्पटाइरहनेछ

विश्वास भएसम्म मानिस विश्वास गरिरहनेछ

आशा भएसम्म हौसला भइरहनेछ

बाजा भएसम्म सुनिइरहनेछ ताल, सुर र नाद

यो मन झंकृत भइरहनेछ ।
यी निराशा, क्रोध र हो—हल्लाका बीच

शिशुहरु जन्मिइरहनेछन्

र तिनकी आमाका पवित्र स्तनबाट

जीवन रसाइरहनेछ

मानिस आफ्नै देवताबाट मुक्त नभएसम्म

दासमोचन भएको मानिने छैन

त्यसपछि पनि अनन्तकालसम्म

मानिसहरुको आवाजले हावा कम्पित भइरहनेछ

जीवन चलिरहनेछ ।

Aba Kaha Jane – Shyamal 

अब कहाँ जाने ?
केश बनाइसकिएको छ

र दलिसकिएको छ अनुहारमा क्रिम

कपडामा छरिएको छ सेन्ट

र ऐनामा सयौँ पल्ट जुधेका छन्

आफ्नै आँखाहरू

शृङ्गार सकिएको छ

सुन्दरी, अब कहाँ जाने ?

सडकमा

सलबलाइरहेछन् युवाहरू

सिकारको खोजमा

तिम्रो शरीरको आरोपित सुगन्धको

विषालु उन्माद

छरिनेछ हावामा

र पुग्नेछ उनीहरूको नाकसम्म

शृङ्गार सकिएको छ

सुन्दरी, अब कहाँ जाने ?

जताततै फोहोर छ

भोकै छन् मानिसहरू

र तिम्रा बहिनीहरू सस्तोमा बेच्छन्

आफ्नो जवानी

मानिसहरू पछारिएका छन्

सडकमा

र झन्डा उठ्दै छ सहिदको

निर्जीव हातबाट

जताततै फोहोर छ

तिमी जति छर्क

आयातित पफ्र्युम अनुहारमा

जतिसुकै छर्क

झन्– झन् कुरूप हुँदै गइरहेको देख्दै छु म

भित्रभित्र धमिराले खाएको

काठको सुन्दर मूर्तिझैँ तिमी र यो देश

दुवै छन् यहाँ

तिम्रो शृङ्गार सकिएको छ

सुन्दरी, अब कहाँ जाने ?

Rajdhanima Truck – Shyamal 

इँटा बोक्छ
सिमेन्ट र फलामका छडहरु बोक्छ

ढुङ्गा, बालुवा र काठ बोक्छ

बोक्छ झ्यालका लागि सिसा

र बोक्छ उज्यालोका लागि

मैनबत्तीको बाकस पनि

ओलम्पिकको तेज धावक झैं

राजमार्गमा दुर्गुछ ट्रक

कहाँ जान्छ ?

थाक्छ

लामो—लामो सुस्केर हालेर

विश्राम गर्छ,

सडक छेउ

थकाल्नीको पसलमा घुसेर माग्छ डिजेल

निस्पट्ट अँध्यारोमा

हेडलाइट बालेर दगुर्छ मात्तिदै

पिसाब गर्न रोकिन्छ झाडीनिर

र दुगर्छ फेरि गति बदल्दै

सयौं घुम्तीहरुको राजमार्गमा

आृहोरदोहोर सधंैको

यो ट्रक कहाँ जान्छ ?

ओसारेका

थुप्रै सामानहरु जोडेर

घर बनाउँछ उ

र शीतमा निथ्रुक्क भिजेर

बिताउँछ केही छिन रात

र पुनः बेपत्ता हुन्छ बाक्लो हुस्सूमा

दुइटा आँखा बालेर,

यसरी सधैँको ओहोरदोहोर

ओहोरदोहोर हुन्छ

पेट्रोल पम्प राखेर बसेका

राजमार्ग छेउका मानिसहरु हो ।

यो ट्रक कहाँ जान्छ ?

Dashaniko Lehanga – Shyamal 

तातो हावाको झाँकाले
फरफराउँछ

पराजित मुलुकको झन्डाजस्तो

दसनीको लेहङ्गा ।

धेरै चोट सहिसक्यो

धेरै रगत बगाइसक्यो

धेरै बलात्कार खपिसक्यो

जमिन्दारको बाँझो खेतमा

धेरै कुलो लगाइसक्यो

घामपानीको मारले

जति मधुरो देखिए पनि

अझै रङ्गीन छ

हजारौँ फूल फुल्ने उद्यानजस्तो

दसनीको लेहङ्गा ।

दाउरा लिन गएको

जङ्गलबाट फर्केन

कसैलाई थाहा छ कि

कहाँ फरफराइरहेछ बुट्टेदार

दसनीको लेहङ्गा ।

Naya Taar – Rabindra Nath Thakur 

सितारका पुराना तारहरु सबै एउटा–एउटा गर्दै खोल, त्यसमा नयाँतार जोड ।

दिउँसोको मेला अब शेष भयो, रातको आसन शुरु भयो,

पुरानो स्वरलाई राख्ने कोशिश नगर, त्यसको दिन अब बितिसक्यो !

अब सितारमा नयाँ तार लगाउ !

आकाशको विशाल तिमिर पस्न दिन आङ्खना ढोका खोलिराख !

सात लोकका निस्तब्धता उसँग आङ्खनो घरमा आउन देऊ !

आजसम्म तिमीले जुन गीत गाएका थियौ आज त्यसको अवशेष

भयो,

यमि वाद्य तिम्रा वाद्य हुन्, यो कुरो भुलिदेऊ ।

आङ्खनो सितारमा नयाँ तार लगाऊ !

Dhwani – Rabindra Nath Thakur 

मलाई भेट्नका लागि, कहिलेदेखि (अनादि कालदेखि) तिमी हिड्यौ
होला कसले जान्द छ र !

तिम्रो सूर्य–चन्द्रले तिमीलाई मेरो आँखामा ल्याउन सकेन् !

अगणित अनि सन्ध्याको वेला मैले तिम्रो गोडाको आवाज सुनें ।
तिम्रो दूतले मेरो ह्दयमा चूपचाप निमन्त्रणा दिन्छ ।

हे यात्री ! किन हो कुन्नि आज मेरो देहमा अपार हर्ष भरिएको छ ।

एक अवर्णनीय आनन्दको रेखा मेरो ह्दयमा निहित छ ।

आज के बिदाको समय आइपुग्यो :

आज के मेरा सबै कर्तव्य पूरा भए ।

ईश्वर! तिम्रो स्पर्शले वायुमा जो मृदु–मधु सुवास भरिएको छ,

त्यसले मलाई भनिरहेछ तिमी मेरो अति छेउमा आइपुगेका छौ ।

Jal Bihar – Rabindra Nath Thakur

हामी दुवैले परस्पर गुप्त प्रतिज्ञा गरेका थियौँ, एउटा डुङ्गामा
केवल तिमी र म बसेर स्वच्छन्द जल–विहार गर्नेछौ,

हाम्रो तीर्थयात्रा कुन देश अनि कुन लक्ष्यको निम्ति होला, यसको

विभिन्नता संसारभरका कसैलाई ज्ञात हुँदैन ।

त्यस किनारविहीन सागरमा बग्दै म तिम्रो श्रवणोत्सुक कानमा गीत

सुनाउँछु । त्यो गीत सागरका उन्माद तरंगहरु झैँ छरपुष्ट हुन्छ अनि

शब्दको बन्धनदेखि मुक्त भएर केवल स्वर–लहरी बन्नेछ !

के अझै त्यो समय आइपुगेको छैन ? अब पनि कर्तव्य कर्म के

समाप्तभएका छन् ?

हेर ! सन्ध्या समुद्रको किनारमा झरिसकेको छ अनि धमिलो

उज्यालोमा समुद्र–विहारी पक्षी पखेटा फर्फर् गर्दै आङ्खना

गुँडमा फर्किरहेका छन् ।

कसले जान्दछ र यो निर्मम जंजीरबाट मुक्त हुन्छ अनि अस्ताउन

लागेको सूर्यको अन्तिम रश्मिझैँ हाम्रो डुङ्गाले राती स्वतन्त्र जलविहार

गर्न प्रस्थान गर्ला ?

Geet Sudha – Rabindra Nath Thakur

तिमीले मलाई गीत गाउन जब भन्यौ,
गर्वले मेरो छाती फुट्नखोज्यो !

मेरा आँखामा आँसु आए

अनि म एकोहोरो तिम्रो चेहरामा हेरेको हेरेकै भएँ ।

मेरो जविनमा भएका सबै कटु, विषम अनि अस्तव्यस्त छन्, ती

सबै पग्लेर तिम्रो गीत–सुधारमा बदलिँदै गए ।

मेरा सबै साधन, आराधना,

पक्षी झैँ पखेटा खोलेर आनन्द साथ उड्ने इच्छा गर्न थाले ।

मेरा गीतका रागिनी तिमीलाई

श्रुति–मनोहर लाग्छन्, कर्ण–प्रिय लाग्छन् ।

म जान्दछु, ती गीतका सहायताले गर्दा नै

म तिम्रो सामुन्ने आउने

साहस गर्न सकुँला !

तैपनि तिम्रो अति नगीच जाँदा संकोच हुन्छ,

केवल आङ्खना गीतका पखेटाहरुद्वारा नै

तिम्रो चरण स्पर्श गर्न सकुँला !

ईश्वर ! गाउने मनले म आफैँलाई समेत भुल्दछु,

अनि तिमीलाई

‘साथी’ भनी पुकार्छु!

Muglan ko Tithi – Rabindra Nath Thakur

सोच्दछु, यो कुरो कहिले भयो ?
तिम्रो गीत गाउँदा–गाउँदा म कहिले बाहिर आएँ ? : कहिले आएँ

यो कुरो आजको होइन, आजको होइन !

आज मैले तिमीलाई पाउन आएको थिएँ,

कहिले आएको थिएँ : यो पनि भुलेँ ।

यो कुरो आजको होइन, आजको होइन !
जसरी कोही कोही ढीलो बाहिर आयो,

अनि कोसित भेट्नुछ, यही भूल भुल्यो,

यसरी नै मेरो जीवन–प्रवाह बाहिर निस्केको थियो,
तर, यो कुरो आजको होइन, आजको होइन !

मैले तिमीलाई कति नाउँले आह्वान गरेँ मतिपय चित्रहरुमा तिम्रो

ध्वनि भरेँ, तिम्रो ठेगान पाइनँ ।

तर, यो कुरो आजको होइन, आजको होइन !

Poem – Ode To A Love One

LEST as the immortal gods is he,
The youth who fondly sits by thee,
And hears and sees thee, all the while,
Softly speaks and sweetly smile.

‘Twas this deprived my soul of rest,
And raised such tumults in my breast;
For, while I gazed, in transport tossed,
My breath was gone, my voice was lost;

My bosom glowed; the subtle flame
Ran quick through all my vital frame;
O’er my dim eyes a darkness hung;
My ears with hollow murmurs rung;

In dewy damps my limbs were chilled;
My blood with gentle horrors thrilled:
My feeble pulse forgot to play;
I fainted, sunk, and died away.

Poem – My Handwriting

My handwriting is not calligraphic.
Not following the rules of beauty,
words stagger about,
reeling,
as if clobbered on the jaw.

But you, the descendant, my textual critic,
following on the heels of the past,
take stock of those gales
your ancestor got caught in.

He walked on a pugnacious coastal freighter,
a bit arrogant,
but you
should see beyond the pitched handwriting
not only the author’s traits.

Your ancestor wrote while tossed about,
not kept too warm by squalls,
habitually,
like having a pack
of his usual cigarettes.

Of course, far off we made our way courageously,
but it’s hard to write a line,
when your head is smashed with relish
against the bulkhead.

Risking skin and bones,
it’s tough to sing acclaim,
when what you see compels you
not to praise, but only to throw up.

When churning water strangles motors
and a wave’s curl is aimed at your forehead,
then smudges are better than flourishes.
They’re black-but true.

Here- fingers simply grew numb.
Here- the swell slyly tormented.
Here- the pen jerked with uncertainty
away from some mean shoal.

But if through all the clumsiness,
through the clutches of awkwardness,
an idea breaks through the way a freighter on
the Lena breaks through to the arctic shore-

then, descendant, be slow to curse the style,
don’t judge an ancestor severely,
and even in the handwriting of the poet
find a solution to the enigma of time.

Poem – In Jest

Goodbye, fame! Put someone else in my niche.
I’d swap a seat in the President’s jeep
for a warm corner in a ditch
where I could go soundly off to sleep.
Oh, how I would unload my fears,
pour all my deadly, dreary pride
into the burdocks’ hairy ears
as I lay fidgeting on my side.
And I would wake up, with unshaven chin,
amongst the bugs and little insects.
Oh how marvelously unknown! –
someone fit to dance gypsy steps.
Far off, people would grasp for power,
hang by their nails from the top of the tower,
but none of this would send me sour,
in a ditch I would be lower.
And there, embracing a mangy dog,
I would lie down and make my berth
in the friendly dust, holding dialogue
on the highest level-of the earth.
Alongside, the bare feet of a girl
would float innocently by,
and pale blades of grass would twirl
down from the haycarts between me and the sky.
On a bench a smoker would toss out
a cigarette pack, squashed and empty,
and from the label the twisted mouth
of Blok would sadly smile at me.

Poem – The Mail Cutter

The ice had not even begun to break,
no boat could possibly sail yet,
but the letters lay in a pile at the post office,
with all their requests and instructions.

Among them trying vainly to leave,
in the scrawls of fishermen,
were reproaches, complaints, cries,
awkward confessions of love.

In vain the huskies gazed out to sea,
searching the waves through the fog,
lying like gray hillocks
on the bottoms of overturned boats.

But, like a ghost, dreamed up
from the desperate monotony,
the ice-covered mail boat
showed her gray masts.

She was beaten up and dirty,
but to the fishing village
her chilly, husky voice
sounded like the sweetest music.

And the gloomy sailors, throwing us a line
to the shore, like Vikings,
silently, skillfully
carried canvas sacks full of people’s souls.

And again the ship went out, tiredly,
her hull breaking the ice with difficulty,
and I sat in her dank hold
among the piled sacks.

Tormented, I searched for an answer
with all my restless conscience:
‘Just what am I, in fact,
and where am I going? ‘

Can it be I am like a frail boat,
and that the passions, like the waves, roll
and toss me about? ‘ But my inner voice
answered me: ‘You are a mail boat.

Make speed through the angry waves,
heavy with ice, to all those people
who have been seperated by the ice,
who are waiting to get in touch again.

And like the first sign of the ship
for which people waited so long,
carry onward the undying light
of the duty that links us together.

And along the foaming arctic sea of life,
through all the ice and against the nor’wester,
carry with you those mailbags
full of hopelessness and hopes.

But remember, as you hang on the whistle,
as soon as the storms die down,
steamers, real ships,
will go through these waters, not afraid anymore.

And the fishermen, standing up in the barges,
will look admiringly at them,
and their sleek, velvety whistles
and make them forget your husky voice.

But you, with the stink of fish and blubber,
don’t lower your rigging gloomily.
You’ve done the job on schedule.
Be happy then. You are the mail cutter.’

Thus the inner voice spoke to me,
impressing upon me the burden of prophecy.
And amid the white night of the Arctic Ocean
somehow it was all morning for me.

I didn’t think enviously
of someone else, covered with honours,
I was simply happy that a few things
also depended on me.

And covered in someone’s fur coat,
I was dependent on so much,
and like that letter from Vanka Zhukov,
I dozed on heaps of other letters.

Poem – Breaking Up

I fell out of love: that’s our story’s dull ending,
as flat as life is, as dull as the grave.
Excuse me-I’ll break off the string of this love song
and smash the guitar. We have nothing to save.

The puppy is puzzled. Our furry small monster
can’t decide why we complicate simple things so-
he whines at your door and I let him enter,
when he scratches at my door, you always go.

Dog, sentimental dog, you’ll surely go crazy,
running from one to the other like this-
too young to conceive of an ancient idea:
it’s ended, done with, over, kaput. Finis.

Get sentimental and we end up by playing
the old melodrama, ‘Salvation of Love.’
‘Forgiveness, ‘ we whisper, and hope for an echo;
but nothing returns from the silence above.

Better save love at the very beginning,
avoiding all passionate ‘neves, ‘ ‘forever; ‘
we ought to have heard what the train wheels were shouting,
‘Do not make promises! ‘ Promises are levers.

We should have made note of the broken branches,
we should have looked up at the smokey sky,
warning the witless pretensions of lovers-
the greater the hope is, the greater the lie.

True kindness in love means staying quite sober,
weighing each link of the chain you must bear.
Don’t promise her heaven-suggest half an acre;
not ‘unto death, ‘ but at least to next year.

And don’t keep declaring, ‘I love you, I love you.’
That little phrase leads a durable life-
when remembered again in some loveless hereafter,
it can sting like a hornet or stab like a knife.

So-our little dog in all his confusion
turns and returns from door to door.
I won’t say ‘forgive me’ because I have left you;
I ask pardon for one thing: I loved you before.

Poem – Weddings

Weddings in days of war,
false cheating comfort,
those hollow phrases:
‘He won’t get killed…’
On a snowbound winter road,
slashed by a cruel wind,
I speed to a hasty wedding
in a neighboring village.
Gingerly I enter
a buzzing cottage,
I, a folk dancer of repute,
with a forelock dangling
from my forehead.
All spruced up, disturbed,
among relatives and friends
the bridegroom sits, just mobilized,
distraught.
Sits with Vera-his bride-
but in a day or two
he’ll pull on a gray soldier’s coat
and, wearing it, leave for the front.
Then with a rifle he will go,
tramping over alien soil;
a German bullet, perhaps,
will lay him low…
A glass of foaming home brew
he’s not able yet to drink.
Their first night together
will likely be their last.
Chagrined, the bridegroom stares,
and with all his soul in anguish
cries to me across the table:
‘Well, go on, why don’t you dance! ‘
They all forget their drinking,
all fix me with goggling eyes,
and I slide and writhe,
beating a rhythm with my hooves.
Now I drum a tattoo,
now drag my toes
across the floor.
Whistling shrilly,
I clap my hands,
leap up near the ceiling.
Slogans on the wall fly past,
‘Hitler will be kaput! ‘
But the bride
scalds
her face
with tears.
I’m already a wet rag,
barely catch my breath…
‘Dance! ‘-
they shout in desperation,
and I dance again…
Back home, my ankles
feel as stiff as wood;
but from yet another wedding
drunken guests
come knocking at the door once more.
Soon as mother lets me go,
I’m off to weddings once again,
and round the tablecloth anew
I stamp my feet and bend my knees.
The bride sheds bitter tears,
friends are tearful too.
I’m afraid for everyone.
I’ve no desire to dance,
but you can’t not dance.

Poem – Colours

When your face came rising
above my crumpled life,
the only thing I understood at first
was how meager were all my possessions.
But your face cast a peculiar glow
on forests, seas, and rivers,
initiating into the colors of the world
uninitiated me.
I’m so afraid, I’m so afraid,
the unexpected dawn might end,
ending the discoveries, tears, and raptures,
but I refuse to fight this fear.
This fear-I understand-
is love itself. I cherish this fear,
not knowing how to cherish,
I, careless guardian of my love.
This fear has ringed me tightly.
These moments are so brief, I know,
and, for me, the colors will disappear
when once your face has set…