Samah Sabawi    SEA AND SKY  Palestine
Charles Frederickson  ANIMA Thailand
Paul Gilbert  ELSEWHERE  Canada
Jan Oskar Hansen   LOVE’S LIFETIME Norway
Leonardo Guevara Navarro  SWIMMING THE ALMENDARES RIVER  Cuba
Lisa Zaran  HOW WE ARE  USA
Lucia Leao   LOVERS, AT WAR  Brazil
Nora Nadjarian  MAN CHILD Cyprus
Ysabel de la Rosa THE IMPOTENCE OF WIVES Spain
Ruth Knafo Setton I AM THE PERFECT TOURIST Morocco
Opal Palmer Adisa  FRUIT SERIES Jamaica
Michelle McGrane   GONE   Zimbabwe/South Africa
Stanley Onjezani Kenani STAMPED Malawi
Pablo Neruda POEM V Chile
Vyacheslov Kuprivanov IN ANYONE”S TONGUE  Russia
Johannes Beilharz WOMEN AND BORGES Germany
Avisheck Ramaswamy Aiyar BLACK  India
Alessio Zane lli    CIRCLES IN THE WATER  Italy


Samah Sabawi is a Palestinian Canadian writer and political activitist.

Sea and Sky:  A dedication to Houda

by Samah Sabawi
My father's life in exile was spent between cities, countries and continents trying to find that perfect beach that looked like Gaza's beach. You'd be surprised, even the Great Barrier Reef in Australia could not measure. My father's thirst for Gaza's sea was never quenched.
Only those who have lived in Gaza can understand what the sea in Gaza means to the residents. The sea is the only reality that has not been defaced by the occupation. It is the only landmark that has not been blown up, riddled with bullets or left to decay in neglect because of financial restraints. Above all, the Gaza Sea is the only refuge left for many to go out with their families and to have fun. Yes, fun. That was why Houda's family was on the beach.

When I saw images of the terrible crime committed against Houda's family and I read her words I dug up my father's poetry book and hoped to find solace in it. What I found was an old poem that could have been written today. I translated it and would like to share it in memory of Houda's loved ones.

Sea and sky

And waves…like wild horses neigh
And birds with foam feathers
Countless…they hover,
Sea and sky
What is there of Gaza now but sea and sky
And lives forgone destined to die
Eyes full of grief
And tears burn out like candles
Yet there still seems to be a faint smile
Sea and sky
Gaza is a home for lovers
For knights wearing the medals of passion
Love is like war … a battlefield
And manhood is claimed by those who gain and those who yield
Love is like death … it is a fate that is written
They said, “you must belong young man”
I said my heart has for long been smitten
I always yearn for
Sea and sky
Sea and sky
Was it a radiant light I saw
Or did the veil move revealing your smile
Was it a breeze that carried me
Or was I blown away from the seventh sky
With a wave of her hand she said goodbye
May peace be with you the day has ended.
Did the sun set or was it darkness that descended?
The wound was wide open,
A corpse lay on the beach
Sea and sky…
Abdel Karim Sabawi (translated by Samah Sabawi)



Dr. Charles Frederickson    (Thailand)



Natural order is the way
   Things are without outsider interference
      Mortals yet to learn how
         To coexist in balanced harmony
         Astronomers have discovered that our
      Universe is getting consistently darker
   Star numbers falling lost twinkle
Points of light diminishing returns
Global warming industrial contamination and
   Passive Indifferent negligence adversely effect
      Climate change air clean water
         Quick-change weather conditions increasingly erratic
         Misguided protectionism of unilateral one-sidedness
      Contributes toward disunity violence insecurity
   Making soiled earth a more
Unsafe unjust and uncivilized place
AHOW WE ARE  more compassionate and tolerant
   World order is urgently needed
      To help save critical condition
         Endangered planet discovering emergency remedies
         Concerned eco-crusaders must embark on
      Mission Possible to ensure that
   Proud pasts lie ahead for
Future generations – all our kids





Paul Gilbert                (Canada)




I witness the birth of Evie,
born with split lips,
cleft palate,
blue and acidotic,
sick as sick can be.
Can she hear, can she think, can she see?
We wait for answers.
We witness New York.
Beneath the rubble
split lips,
cleft palate,
sliced by metal
not genetic irony.
Blue and mangled bodies,
sick as sick can be,
they cannot hear, they cannot think
and never will they see
I have smaller fish to fry.
Our baby three weeks old
future untold,
can she hear, can she think, can she see?
I cannot weep at distant carnage,
grief has scoured my tear ducts dry as ice
now the salt water streams and billows down my face.
I cry again for those........




 Jan Oskar Hansen       (Norway)




Of the hundreds of photos I keep
in a lacquered box made in China,
there is none of you.
Once had one, but it hurt too much
seeing you, I tore it into small pieces
and threw them to the wind, the same
day as my almond tree shed its enchanting flowers.   
Yet, when I look up to the morning sky,
if it’s blue with wooly, playful clouds,
that makes the heaven less stern;
I see your reflection it has a shadow of a smile.
Since I shan’t go up north,
where we first met, so many dreams ago,
you will forever look young.



Leonardo Guevara Navarro                                 (Cuba)

[translated from the Spanish by Jonathan Minton and Jose Oque



The dogs know it, and the birds of ill omens, and the man who was once saintly. The writers in this filthy-saintly-secret city know it. All know it: I awoke in a forest and I killed, I killed the dogs and fish. Tired of this much knowledge, I killed, just like the animals do.
My house is my head. To say this comforts me.
According to circumstances, I have trafficked with voices, with the leaves that draw near.
At banquets, I am never the prodigal son. I am part of the crowd, of the public spectacles, of the lovers behind trees, of the night that forms, over my face, from behind my bed.
My beloved, come to these waters. Purify me with pagan exorcisms. Watch my house and its fires. Do not linger in this façade. Do not write on your flesh the names of fish.
The dogs of this city know it. Tired of this much knowledge, I killed. But to me this is indifferent.



Lisa Zaran             (USA)


Pale scrapings of people
with lipstick ringed glasses
and cigarettes burning,
and laughter trickling up and down
their knotty throats.
What is this,
a gathering of henhouse critics?

My father's voice,

in the back of my head,

saying forget that I'm dead

and if you can not do that

then pretend.

I am standing
just outside the gallery
beneath the shadowy bough of a birch.
The moon is floating in the sky's dark lap.
Faraway I can hear the ocean sigh.

Now father, I am asking,
what smile are you wearing?
What color are your eyes again?
How many teeth have you lost?

Don't you think I want a kiss.
Perhaps I don't. Perhaps I don't
want to stand and pretend you
not dead while the wet, champagne
mouths of the living tell me how wonderful
your paintings are.

As they crook their fingers and strain their necks,
lose their vocabulary inside the artwork's depths
and colors.

Father, I want your reputation to outlive the pursuits
of others with their iron-on reviews after an hour's
worth of browsing at a lifetime of your work.

Father, are you crying?
Stop that sound.






Lucia Leao       (Brazil)



the body stretches
the lines of
the white sheets
what else would bring you inside
other than the pose I strike
sitting right here?

the poet next door
harms the walls
trying hard to place
pictures of distant lands
into his house
hammering the heart
to please a lover
like me

hands grab me
by the throat
your kisses caress
my tongue
you and I
against a wall
silent prayers
of many more

the whiteness comes

diluting it all

what else would erase the darkness
of salty mornings with no sea
of hearing poets like me
who sit and listen for


Nora Nadjarian                        (Cyprus)


I will bathe you
with the warmest blood
of my womb

I will suckle you
with every drop of love
under my skin

I will cradle you
with lullabies of screams
until you sleep

I will kiss you
into life make you re-enter
my flesh as a foetus

I will keep you
clothe you with my body
never give birth to you again



Nouri Gana            (Tunisia)


The present cannot take up anymore what the future holds in store
for the river will run its course
indifferent to the ocean’s engulfing force
and the birds will nestle in the winter’s backyard and twitter among the leaves
in the shadow of the autumnal hearse

No more scrambling for what the dawn might tell
for history’s scarred face
bears no witness
to devour every dead hour
and prey for more to fall like bodies in the pool of war

No more scrambling for history’s throbbing pace
to deliver us from the traps
of this maddening race to ravish the remains
of tomorrows falling fleece
and sign endless treaties of friendship and peace

For the child out there on the yellowish sand
oblivious to the twilight and the naked cortège of the night
hearkening to the stirring spring of endless motion
his back sensing the sea’s frown
his eyes open a jar to the surrender of the moon

the rise of the melancholy star
his mind suspended in the folly of creation
continues to build his castle

at the moment

of the swift tidal

on the soft





Ysabel de la Rosa    (Spain)


Today’s news: F16 down in Iraq.
Is it—yes, it is. Their squadron: 524,
Hounds of Heaven. The calm reporter
tells you heaven has claimed one.
But which?

You gather, the few of you, in a room
that once held a husband in it every day,
a quiet space where black electronic boxes
will tell you: something. But when?

You wait. You watch. You listen.
Impotent. There is nothing, nothing
you can do. God, yes, you hope and pray,
but you, no. You are impotent now,
utterly removed from spheres of action
or solution. The silence of the hours closes
in on you, pushes you well beyond worry
and ever closer to the precipice of a shock
you can never be ready for, that you must
always, somehow, be ready for. But how?

Then, by phone, the news after the news.
So brief the words, so great the relief.
It’s him. This time. And for one other
wife, it’s not. This time.
And never will be again.

Great courage it takes to go into battle.
Great courage it takes to wait, powerless, in love.



Ruth Knafo Setton   (Morocco)


observing fiesta through slits
in my mask no one knows me
cares who my father is
why I have no wedding ring

I wear the locked mouth
of Death with a small hole
for spiked Sangria and pulque –
the gods’ drink. Thick and clotted

saliva coats the tongue burns
tormenta shook
through town
stunned branches cling

to my hair aftershock trembles
we eat laugh drink
under redblack sky no one wants
to be alone tonight

the dead ride the ferry back to us
pulque blazes to my thighs
I have never been this young
desperate toes gripping mud

They bite into sugar skulls
chew pan de muerte
pull caramel into bony threads
devour chili'd chunks of cana

burnt corn falls like teeth
fried pork twists
tornado on a spit oil cracks

a child's cry

the last mariachi serenades
red-eyed dogs young man strokes
his mustache stares at a mound
of rotting mango peels and bones

red-cloaked Devil bumps me
stinking beer almost midnight
they're coming do you hear them?
ferry slices through water

scatters fish and garbage
Butterflies cluster over my head
Whisper of wings mother’s tears
drawing near small hand rubs snot

into her dress touches me palm up
Senora she pleads
Madame Lady
I feel for my mask

they're here!
long fingers grasp
noses suck me in
I grab her hand to keep

from sinking
in the mud
A vein of light slashes
our touching fingers


Opal Palmer Adisa        (Jamaica)

The green exterior disguises perfectly the sweet pink-seeded meat that lives inside. This, her father told her, was a metaphor for how she was to dress, modestly, to hide the lascivious curves of her behind, as he was not able to protect or be with her all the time.
Long ago, the god of the Taino people appeared to a guileless maiden and convinced her to allow him to sleep in her bed. The next morning she woke with a round-mounded stomach, and as she squatted in pain, the fruit spilled from her and fed the entire tribe.
Old age is said to be better than fortune, but she didn’t agree. Left all day on the veranda, she wished she could be of use. Once, she knew which flowers were medicine and which could sweeten a pot, but now her fingers betrayed her with their stiff numbness.
He always looked at a woman’s mouth first. The shape told a lot, not just about kissing, but more, about how readily she would agree with him. Her mouth told him she was malleable; she would be good to the touch and someone worth savoring, all orange and black....


Hugh McFadden      (Ireland)


Overcast afternoon in February
the cherry tree in my back garden
is leafless, the outline of its bare branches
cupped upwards, classic candelabra,
its lines as clean and clear as any drawing:
and sitting in it are five birds still
and quiet as Buddhist monks meditating.

But this garden is not really mine at all,
although it’s registered in my name:
I’m just the latest temporal caretaker.
The real owner also owns the Buddhist birds
and He doesn’t need to prove His deed of title.



Michelle McGrane    (Zimbabwe/South Africa)


It's July, it's an overcast, grey day.
The sable-haired woman standing, smoking,
at the kitchen sink
has disappeared.
They haven't pasted up
the missing posters yet:
She is iridescent & elusive;
she's untied her apron.
There's low cloud cover.
Her husband looks straight through her
as he helps himself to scrambled eggs;
(he thinks she's cleaning the bathroom,

The children bicker back & forth,
brandishing jam-smeared knives
across the table;
they too, have forgotten she's there.
Icy water drips
into a bowl of milky dregs.
She's supposed to be washing dishes,
but she isn't & doesn't care.
HOW WE ARE  The air is cleaning fluid & burnt toast:
a reference point,
like the lines on her palms
which read escape.
She exhales, watching cigarette smoke
drawn by an invisible current
drift through the bars & out the open window...
She imagines a future soundtrack of
swooping gulls, calls to mosque &
dancing electrical thunderstorms.
Without warning,
she has crossed the border.

Without warning,
she has peeled away the labels:
she has peeled away all 'thou-shalt-nots';
removed every trace of their sticky residue
HOW WE ARE  & vanished.
She feels no remorse. Hollow & light now,
she is a creature of myth:
A stranger in dark glasses &
a long silver raincoat,
a crescent moon birthmark
above elegant lips.
Her translucent fingers
push against the metal latch.
Movements fluid & sure
cast no shadow on the floor.
It's July, it's an overcast, grey day,
there's low cloud cover.
The air is cleaning fluid & burnt toast:
When the back door creaks open,
the cat slips in from the rain.


Stanley Onjezani Kenani        (Malawi) 


Stamped: your sorrows were stamped;
stamped at Mwanza – through the No-Man’s-Land
stamped at Zobue – you carried your sorrows
stamped at Cuchamano, stamped at Nyamapanda,
your sorrows ceased to be sorrows only for a time
transformed into millions among the ruins of Zimbabwe.
Your sorrows were thoroughly searched at Beit Bridge
stamped, you were waived through into the Promised Land
past the man-made forests of Limpopo
past Petersburg, past the veld you read in geography
you landed in the City of Gold.
But there was no gold littered in the streets
no money heaped on the verandahs of Braamfontein skyscrapers
no diamonds on the graffiti laden streets of Newtown.
The Golden City had a fair share of prostitutes and beggars
thugs, pick-pockets and gun-totting robbers
there was no gold in the City of Gold
except ladies with golden faces among the Towers of Babel
speaking in divers tongues you could not understand.
Without giving up, you searched for money here amid insults
you looked for the Rand at North Gate, or at China Mart
you went a-searching at the Oriental Plaza, or at Westgate,
you looked and checked at Florida by the lakeside
there was no Rand – but being poor, you never gave up
in anguish, you added to the graffiti of Newtown
in your mother’s tongue imported all the way here
Osauka satopa. 
Glossary: Osauka satopa is Chichewa (Malawi’s national language) for “the poor never give up.”


Pablo Neruda          (Chile)


For you to hear,
my words
sometimes grow thin
as seagull tracks on the beach.
Necklace, drunken bell
for your hands smooth as grapes.
And I watch them from far away, my words.
They are more mine than yours.
They climb up my old pain like ivy.
As ivy climbs up humid walls.
You are the one to blame for this bloodthirsty sport.
They flee from my dark cavern.
You fill everything, you are in everything.
Before you they lived in the loneliness that you came to fill,
and they are more used to my sadness than you are.
Now I want them to say what I wish to tell you,
so that you will hear me as I want you to hear.
The wind of fear still sweeps them along.
Hurricanes in dreams sometimes still strike them down.
You hear other voices in my bitter voice.
Cries from old mouths, the blood of old pleas.
Love me, my companion. Don’t desert me. Follow me.
Follow me, my companion, in this wave of fear.
But my words are tinged with your love.
You inhabit everything, you are in everything.
I will make an endless necklace out of my words
for your white hands, smooth as grapes.
(Translated by Johannes Beilharz)




Vyacheslav Kupriyanov   (Russia)


in the wet tongue of water
we are the uppermost of fish
we are a splash
as if of a stone
we are a form
fickle as a cloud
we are flesh
we are warmth
we are thirst
in the far-off lexicon of stars
we are still being counted
in the class
of interjections
in the heavenly tongue of space
we are the feelers of earth
we feel ourselves
we twine with each other
we stretch up
the stars

is eternity
in the tongue of trees

are minutes
in the tongue of resin

we are seconds
with the axes
of cutting questions

at the feet
of omniscient

Translated from Russian by Francis R. Jones.



Johannes Beilharz                     (Germany)


Pero es que Borges vivió casi toda
su vida con amores desdichados y
con amores muy intensos.
                 A. Bioy Casares


Gives me the impression of unspeakably
filthy acts, far worse than getting spat
in the face
Premeditated, slow, plentiful


But there’s plenty of unspeakable
in everyday married or unmarried
      The sacrament of marriage

Daring games: He, physically
more powerful, willpower strangled
by spider woman’s stare

perfectly willing and able
to dole out cruelty at the workplace
and even shag the secretary
or God knows what wretched female
except for that tyrannical flower
of womanhood given away by
priest with gold ring and brimborium



Avishek Ramaswamy Aiyar       (India)


Gentle strokes of my little brown brush,
Paint the world which adds me to its density.
The sun, known to me, only by the
Little warmth it sheds off its opulence,
Rising through hills, filling the Dome
with a brimful of brightness that
opens all eyes to a sensation of existence,
Fills in the circle on my canvas.
My little village is complete,
So I am told by my mother,
Who always keeps one eye on me.
 'Your village is beautiful', she says,
The rivers dazzling with red, not from battle,
The skies, a radiant yellow, the sun, a majestic black.
'Its beautiful', she adds, as a tear drop
dilutes the darkness of my sun.
I quite like black, in all its darkness.HOW WE ARE 
Though Ma objects, quoting some scripture,
where black is the harbinger of evil.
But Black, my space, my void,
Where I am the center of the universe.
Where I live in infinity unrestrained,
Proud of my blindness, that blinds me
To the curse called humanity.



Alessio Zanelli         (Italy)



It is as difficult as desirable
to fix circles in the water.

Once cast the stone
the hand has just withdrawn
and already the ripples are fading,
the circles die out away from the center.

Not even the freeze could succeed,

as icing water loses any surface relief.

I’ve tried to fix a circle on my mind
around your promptly pictured face,
but it likewise disappeared very soon;
what lay within quickly vanished too,
like the hole of the stone in the pool.

All that is left is a still blank plane.

And the bitter chill of absence,
which could fix nothing but regret.

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