The Poeticians.

Poets sharing words from the Middle East to haunt the lyrical world.

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Archive for April, 2011

Moved.

I was moved by this poem today, I do not know why. I believe it is a translation from Farsi. Who wants to explain to me what it means?


Dear Fahimeh

Translation by Hubert Moore, Nasrin Parvaz

That day,
that hot day in July,
when the Evin loudspeakers
called out your beautiful name and your lips
smiled, your eyes said to your friends,
‘So today is the day.’
You went and your walk
was a perfume filling the corridor.

Everyone gasped, everyone asked with their eyes,
‘Is today then the day?’ The Pasdar
flung back an answer : ‘Where is her bag?
Where are her veil, her socks, her money?
‘A rumour went round that you’d given a sign
that yes, today was the day :
‘I don’t need my food,’ you had said.

So tonight is the night.
A silence hangs in the heart of it.
Friends look at friends and tell themselves
that perhaps you’ll come back.
Fahimeh dear, tell us, spare
a word for your friends. Is
the sky sad where you are, does it weep?
And the wind, does it ruffle your veil?
Back here, the ward sweats for your news.
And a message gets through:
wind-blown breathless dandelion
comes from the mountains to say that clouds are
massing up there and they’re big with child.
Head held high, you are standing and waiting for this,
for the clouds to open,
for you to be mother of change.

Rifles crack.The moorland holds its breath
at a star shooting across it.
It would be good to sing and go with friends
to face the firing squad, to dance,to float in the rain.
In the long sea-silence,a wave lifts, oars clip at the water.

A young fisherman bringing his boat to land,
rice-growers trudging home,
they shape their lips to your name.

Your name is beautiful for young girls born in July.

عودة الماء

Oh you lucky people. Those of you who can read Arabic. This is by Edmund, who is a Poetician I love.

عودة الماء
by Edmund Hedded

مع كلّ مسافر أرسل لك ثوبك

كرسالة حب

على بطنك أحددّ شكل رجولتي

وأغفو،

تسهر علّي جنّيات النوم

تنسى يدكِ في شعري

مع كلّ مسافر ارسل لك جسدي

كبطاقة بريدية

على بطني أرسم لحناً

وأغفو،

توقظني شمس خجولة

تتكأ رأسها على رسمتي

مع كلّ مسافر أرسل لك طائرة

كباقة زهر،

وأغفو

أشعر في بطني أنّك عائدة

تشعرين عودتي

ننام مثل جفاف دمعتين وعودة مائهما إلى السماء

Losing.

Sometimes a night out at a bar with friends, for a weekly quiz night, is not simply only that. Or ever will be.

Losing

“And you will believe in love and all that’s it’s supposed to be”. R. Wainwright

I mourn you everywhere.

You would think the whisky and smoke

could obscure what was best left alone, so long

before the permanence of

loss set in, was as easy as inhaling. We inhale death, tears form in our throats blackened and betrayed,

I mourn you, in

the cigarette

twirls, the nervous chubby fingers

pick at potatoes and lamb,

grinning at new faces

of earnest strangers,

but still this pub closes in,

I note…the MC’s accent is all wrong,

the music holds no rhythm,

just what’s her name’s whips and chains,

I do not know hold any solutions to the questions, a quiz

night to propel little but more questions,

and even my red lips, my come hither glances,

my wicked advances,

my ennui and restless knees that fidget a drumbeat of tremors,

desire for even his brown eyes are blanketed by dulled edges of memory,

throttled by despair.

Oh you would have had all the answers.

You would have won this round,

and the next,

and taken me safely back home to dream of prizes,

baby steps gushing pride,

growing a grasp on this tenuous life we bear.

I do not bear.

Oh you would have smiled your green eyed smile,

and nodded furiously at the right fact,

pulled out figures from your curls, and all that

information inane would have delighted us,

led me to knowledge, afloat, sans souci, tender and rare.

Oh you would have whispered advice,

and instantly guessed which love I

should keep, which hardened soul to discard, which charlatan to throw away,

taken my heart through reference

books sacred, nourished all that could have

grown weak,

grown raw and bare. You, who believed, beyond the cruelty

and decay,

you who believe in love and all that it’s supposed to be.

And I, alone and without a book of faith to guide me,

not even your fingers to turn pages, invisible,

not even your fingers to bake forgiveness,

to clean out the dusty corners of my bitter youth,

not even your songs to which we could pray.

You know mama, today they shot dead another lover

in falasteen. How you would have explained, quiet, all that hurt away.

Oh you would have also

giggled at the funny suggestions offered, and lit up

our memories with your literature,

explained math, physics, chemistry and patience,

the willful desire to live. To care.

I mourn you everywhere,

in the smoky bars of my womanhood,

in the hallways of the mind of children laughing,

in the pencil rubbed

out against white papers forgotten,

in dingy hotel lobbies, the sinful

sips of beer we were allowed, in the red car

winding through abandoned capitals, in the microphone

surprises of hidden secrets, in the euphoria of

testing ourselves against all the world can

contain of mystery,

the trivia of why we are all still haunted by love.

I mourn you everywhere,

for I am full of questions

which will never be uttered.

I am full of answers with no one to blame.

Paul Eluard et ma nostalgie.

je ne sais pas pourquoi maintenant, ou ici, ou pourquoi je me souviens de cette poemes que j’aime depuis longtemps, longtemps.
ah merde, il ya plus que douze ans j’ai pas ecrit en francais. ahh, dommage. une langue oublier.


L’amoureuse

Elle est debout sur mes paupières
Et ses cheveux sont dans les miens,
Elle a la forme de mes mains,
Elle a la couleur de mes yeux,
Elle s’engloutit dans mon ombre
Comme une pierre sur le ciel.
Elle a toujours les yeux ouverts
Et ne me laisse pas dormir.
Ses rêves en pleine lumière
Font s’évaporer les soleils,
Me font rire, pleurer et rire,
Parler sans avoir rien à dire.

Elle se refuse toujours

Elle se refuse toujours à comprendre, à entendre,
Elle rit pour cacher sa terreur d’elle-même.
Elle a toujours marché sous les arches des nuits
Et partout où elle a passé
Elle a laissé
L’empreinte des choses brisées.

Immense et rouge

Au-dessus du Grand Palais
Le soleil d’hiver apparaît
Et disparaît

Comme lui mon coeur va disparaître
Et tout mon sang va s’en aller
S’en aller à ta recherche
Mon amour
Ma beauté
Et te trouver
Là où tu es.

Mr B joins the Poeticians.

Layth Barzangi is another lovely new comer to the Poetician crew. Attended several sessions before he admitted that he had some old poems, oh lying about wither and thither online and that there was one he would like to share with a live audience in Dubai. And so he did. And it was good. And the gods of poetry were satisfied, and now, they sit back on their haunches awaiting the return of some muse or the other, and for more poetry to be born, at a rate faster than once every three years! Yalla Layth, make a good habit out of this.


The Window

Star trails dance outside the window
Like momentary empires
Or scores of dead religions
They rise and fall
And fade like echoes behind the wall

On the dark and misty glass
My finger traces every story
Of dead heroes who strove for glory
Of every trickster, thief and crook
And every self-appointed minister
Pounding on his holy book

Of every revolutionary
Who paid in blood for treason
Sold out to the highest bidder
By their next of kin
And every nameless mercenary

Of every tyrant and dictator
Whose twitching of the little finger
Brought the masses forth to worship
To overfeed the god complex
Each day a different venue
A feast of people’s self esteem
Is on the daily menu

Of every bold philosopher
And enlightened freethinker
Who dared to doubt and question
Who lit a candle in the dungeon
And roused the thousand-year-old bats
Who braved the bloodied fangs and claws
And fought for the most noble cause:
To drive the beasts out in the light
To lift the veil and let the glare
Reduce them all to ash and dust
And cease the endless night

Of every brilliant scientist
And talented inventor
Who drove the thirst for exploration
To every corner of the world
Who gazed across the boundless dark
And at the smallest building block
Writing chapter after chapter
As the tale of our origins
So gracefully unfurled

Of every prodigious musician
Weaving scenes of sheer enchantment
Telling scores of timeless stories
Resonating in your skin
As your teardrops bathe the words
Of every vocal magician

Through the dark and misty glass
I stare beyond my line of sight
A mash of conflicting scenarios
Of doomed dead ends and true ascendancy
Kaleidoscopes of day and night
The choice is ours alone, my friend
As we come to the road’s end
To choose a future in the stars
For all the human race
Or overdose and self destruct
On ignorance and superstition
And vanish from this Earth without a trace

I have long made up my mind
To me this is no burden
And so I smile a knowing smile
Admire the star trails for a while
And gently draw the curtain…

Justyna joins the Poeticians.

My beautiful, tender and surprising flat mate, Justyna, is a rock star. In so many ways. Her many levels of talents include hard core corporate work, hardcore sports, painting, dancing and occasionally cooking delicious food. Lo and behold, one day she whipped out a few papers, and said, look, poetry. I was delighted, of course, since her many talents also included listening to me endlessly whining about life and smoking too many cigarettes on our balcony while debating how many shiny things we can buy for the house. Now we had more than commiseration and capoeira in common, we had poetry. Her writing evolves and moves me and grows and is beautiful to listen to, midday, unexpectedly, and I cannot wait for our next Poetician event for her to unleash new work on the community. Obrigado, lovely JJ. Pour tout.

THE ANGRY ESPRESSO

These dark beans from fields of wrath
Grind in the mill of my stomach mill
My fine anger espresso brews black
Brews thick
Brews strong
Drip… drip… drip
Into my heart paper cup
Aromas of vengeance
Pull at my nostrils dripping grief
White sugar cubed soul
First takes its black colour
And then dissolves
I want to savor this bitter taste
Roll the black on my tongue
Smoother my pity and defeat
I want to feed caffeine to my revenge
Give jolt to my dark purpose
Boost schemes to action
But the current wanes
And all that remains
Are the wet tasteless grains
Of a failed love affair.

FORGIVE ME

Forgive me father
For forgetting
The land of your forefathers
For not knowing
Our blood knowledge

The soil was too loose
To hold the roots
Of your name

The currents too strong
To lull the sands
Of our memories

Forgive me mother
That I don’t bother
To mother sons and daughters

They escape me
Like you did
Maybe for the same reasons.

OUR HOME

The smell of wood, cold, mountains, stream
Blend into an aroma of you
You on the stairs, waving, smiling
To our audience of beliefs
Here you began my childhood romance with history
Where folklore was our religion
Where songs were our timeless ritual
Not to be sung but joined and then departed
The ritual river continuing in her melody
The water and heat are still not here
Their absence still failing to make this house our home
Nothing but an outpost of family lineage
The mountains and stream its eternal guards
Only now, even I am a stranger to their watchful eyes.

Favorite Ezra Pound poem.

Alas, when I was eighteen years old, I thought it befitting to send such letters to young boys who struck my fancy, across continents and hormonal differences. I do not regret wearing my rampaging heart on my sleeve and I do not regret typing up these poems on Indian printed papers and mailing them, nor do I regret still thinking this is a beautiful poem, many many moons later.


Praise Of Ysolt

In vain have I striven,
to teach my heart to bow;
In vain have I said to him
‘There be many singers greater than thou’.

But his answer cometh, as winds and as lutany,
As a vague crying upon the night
That leaveth me no rest, saying ever,
‘Song, a song.’
Their echoes play upon each other in the twilight
Seeking ever a song.
Lo, I am worn with travail
And the wandering of many roads hath made my eyes
As dark red circles filled with dust.
Yet there is a trembling upon me in the twilight,
And little red elf words crying, ‘A song’,
Little grey elf words crying for a song,
Little brown leaf words crying, ‘A song’,
Little green leaf words crying for a song.
The words are as leaves, old brown leaves in the spring time
Blowing they know not whither, seeking a song.

White words as snow flakes but they are cold,
Moss words, lip words, words of slow streams.

In vain have I striven
to teach my soul to bow,
In vain have I pled with him:
‘There be greater souls than thou.’

For in the morn of my years there came a woman
As moonlight calling,
As the moon calleth the tides,
‘Song, a song.’

Wherefore I made her a song and she went from me
As the moon doth from the sea,
But still came the leaf words, little brown elf words
Saying ‘The soul sendeth us’.
‘A song, a song!’
And in vain I cried unto them ‘I have no song
For she I sang of hath gone from me’.

But my soul sent a woman, a woman of the wonder-folk,
A woman as fire upon the pine woods
crying ‘Song, a song’.
As the flame crieth unto the sap.
My song was ablaze with her and she went from me
As flame leaveth the embers so went she unto new forests
And the words were with me
crying ever. ‘Song, a song’.

And I ‘I have no song’,
Till my soul sent a woman as the sun:
Yea as the sun calleth to the seed,
As the spring upon the bough
So is she that cometh, the mother of songs,
She that holdeth the wonder words within her eyes
The words, little elf words
that call ever unto me,
‘Song, a song’.

In vain have I striven with my soul
to teach my soul to bow.
What soul boweth
while in his heart art thou?

Ezra Pound

A little loving for Mr. Pound.

I fell in love with Ezra Pound as a teenager. Some of them have never left me. I could never quite understand his complicated chinese _Canto_ style poems. But some, pasted below, have been companions for years.

Francesca
Ezra Pound

You came in out of the night
And there were flowers in your hand,
Now you will come out of a confusion of people,
Out of a turmoil of speech about you.

I who have seen you amid the primal things
Was angry when they spoke your name
In ordinary places.
I would that the cool waves might flow over my mind,
And that the world should dry as a dead leaf,
Or as a dandelion see-pod and be swept away,
So that I might find you again,
Alone.


Portrait d’Une Femme

Ezra Pound

Your mind and you are our Sargasso Sea,
London has swept about you this score years
And bright ships left you this or that in fee:
Ideas, old gossip, oddments of all things,
Strange spars of knowledge and dimmed wares of price.
Great minds have sought you- lacking someone else.
You have been second always. Tragical?
No. You preferred it to the usual thing:
One dull man, dulling and uxorious,
One average mind- with one thought less, each year.
Oh, you are patient, I have seen you sit
Hours, where something might have floated up.
And now you pay one. Yes, you richly pay.
You are a person of some interest, one comes to you
And takes strange gain away:
Trophies fished up; some curious suggestion;
Fact that leads nowhere; and a tale for two,
Pregnant with mandrakes, or with something else
That might prove useful and yet never proves,
That never fits a corner or shows use,
Or finds its hour upon the loom of days:
The tarnished, gaudy, wonderful old work;
Idols and ambergris and rare inlays,
These are your riches, your great store; and yet
For all this sea-hoard of deciduous things,
Strange woods half sodden, and new brighter stuff:
In the slow float of differing light and deep,
No! there is nothing! In the whole and all,
Nothing that’s quite your own.
Yet this is you.

(when I was 17, I foolishly thought “ahh this is a poem about me”. haha)

Salutation
Ezra Pound

O generation of the thoroughly smug
and thoroughly uncomfortable,
I have seen fishermen picnicking in the sun,
I have seen them with untidy families,
I have seen their smiles full of teeth
and heard ungainly laughter.
And I am happier than you are,
And they were happier than I am;
And the fish swim in the lake
and do not even own clothing.

A Girl
Ezra Pound

The tree has entered my hands,
The sap has ascended my arms,
The tree has grown in my breast—
Downward,
The branches grow out of me, like arms.

Tree you are,
Moss you are,
You are violets with wind above them.
A child—so high—you are,
And all this is folly to the world.

The Lake Isle
Ezra Pound

O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,
Give me in due time, I beseech you, a little tobacco-shop,
With the little bright boxes
piled up neatly upon the shelves
And the loose fragrant cavendish
and the shag,
And the bright Virginia
loose under the bright glass cases,
And a pair of scales not too greasy,
And the whores dropping in for a word or two in passing,
For a flip word, and to tidy their hair a bit.

O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,
Lend me a little tobacco-shop,
or install me in any profession
Save this damn’d profession of writing,
where one needs one’s brains all the time.

old loves from the Cohen collection.

ahh I used to love this little morsel, 15 years ago. Regrets?

For Anne

With Annie gone,
whose eyes to compare
with the morning sun?

Not that I did compare,
But I do compare
Now that she’s gone.

Leonard Cohen