|Samah Sabawi||SEA AND SKY||Palestine|
|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|
|Nouri Gana||BETWEEN HOPE AND DESIRE||Tunisia|
|Ysabel de la Rosa||THE IMPOTENCE OF WIVES||Spain|
|Ruth Knafo Setton||I AM THE PERFECT TOURIST||Morocco|
|Opal Palmer Adisa||FRUIT SERIES||Jamaica|
|Hugh McFadden||EVEN THE BIRDS ARE STILL||Ireland|
|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|
Sea and Sky: A dedication to Houdaby Samah Sabawi
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
Dr. Charles Frederickson (Thailand)
Natural order is the way
Paul Gilbert (Canada)
I witness the birth of Evie,
born with split lips,
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
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
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
Leonardo Guevara Navarro
[translated from the Spanish by Jonathan Minton and Jose Oque
SWIMMING IN THE ALMENDARES RIVER
IThe 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.
Lisa Zaran (USA)
HOW WE ARE
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
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
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)
LOVERS, AT WAR
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
hands grab me
by the throat
your kisses caress
you and I
against a wall
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)
Nouri Gana (Tunisia)
BETWEEN HOPE AND DESPAIR
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)
THE IMPOTENCE OF WIVES
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.
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)
I AM THE PERFECT TOURIST
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
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
I feel for my mask
long fingers grasp
noses suck me in
I grab her hand to keep
in the mud
A vein of light slashes
our touching fingers
12.Opal Palmer Adisa (Jamaica)
Hugh McFadden (Ireland)
EVEN THE BIRDS ARE STILL …
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
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.
she has crossed the border.
she has peeled away the labels:
she has peeled away all 'thou-shalt-nots';
removed every trace of their sticky residue
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)
STAMPEDStamped: your sorrows were stamped;
IN ANYONE’S TONGUE
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
in the heavenly tongue of space
we are the feelers of earth
we feel ourselves
we twine with each other
we stretch up
in the tongue of trees
in the tongue of resin
we are seconds
with the axes
of cutting questions
at the feet
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
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)
Alessio Zanelli (Italy)
CIRCLES IN THE WATER
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.