Poetry

  • Dipika Mukherjee
    Dipika Mukherjee. Photo by Bobo Lin, Shanghai. Dipika Mukherjee wrote the following poem in response to the August 5, 2012, Sikh gurdwara shooting in Wisconsin.     My name is Simran.I am Sikh.  Thousands of dollars in donationswill soon be heading to the victimsof the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin.A check was presented toPol...
  • July 2006 WLT Father John,I have seven Marys.What am I to do?Ancient when I was born,each sings to me in three colors: Blue,wishing, and following the river.Growing younger while I die fasterevery year, they speak to mein four languages; Thinking, dreaming,drowning, and guitar.And one never knows what to do with her hair.And one rocks me in and out of moonlight.One cauterizes broken wing...
  •  January 2007 WLT I am fingering a length of yarnfrom the mill at Stornoway.It is green as a summer meadowthough when I untwine it widdershinsI see, spun into the yarn, fibres of blue& yellow & purple, occasionally orange.I am undoing the magic of the spindle,Unravelling.                        She believed thatjoined together we were powerful as hawserthat could moor th...
  •  July 2008 WLT I walk down Heerengracht, where pigeons dip their necks like question marks into the fountain. Then left at Long, while the sun slips   Toward the sea and the moon takes its place above Signal Hill. Above me, starlings clatter like typewriters.   Higher still, turning right at Wale, seagulls tilt like white kites against the wind.   I step on the old silences of t...
  •  March 2011 WLT Clouds gather under a blue moon, like trouble brewing as strange fruit continues to swing – keeping time – while Columbia turntables refuse to spin the song; is vinyl too black, too flash to be sleeved in white prisons? The answer lies   like white gardenia petals on a bruise too subtle to separate from wind; like a trumpet caught in the ill wind of a jet’s preju...
  •  Nov. 2008 WLT It is Paris, Berlin, New York,   it is any one of countless cities, any one                   of endless lands in which we find ourselves,   our careless hurrying through crowds   cut short, silenced in one moment   by the sight of teeth and hands and jaw,    by the familiarity of bone.   These are the faces that reflect our own,    the eyes of exiles that will se...
  • Pia Tafdrup. Photo by Isak Hoffmeyer. Pia Tafdrup is one of the major contemporary Danish poets working today, and her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She is the author of more than twenty books, several of which have been translated into English, and the recipient of numerous awards—including the prestigious Nordic Council Literature Prize (1999) for Dronninge...
  • Mall of the Emirates We don't use the word "exile" anymore,despite meeting in the Mall of the Emirates,that hyperbolic cave, ordering what is expensivepeasant food, while contemplating our prospectson two or, maybe, three continents,confessing that we no longer return to our natal countries.We're unlike our taxi drivers, with our perpetuallyrenewable visas and self-conscious amnesia,even if we, t...
  • A poem by Dana Gioia / Spanish translation by José Emilio Pacheco The world does not need words. It articulates itselfin sunlight, leaves, and shadows. The stones on the pathare no less real for lying uncatalogued and uncounted.The fluent leaves speak only the dialect of pure being.The kiss is still fully itself though no words were spoken. And one word transforms it into something less or other...
  • Was it a Sunday eveningWhen you left a window carelessly openYou rang first that gong of betrayal? Was it one high noonWhen you thoughtlessly fed her bones of the lambYou sang first that litany of duplicity? Was it under a moonlit skyWhen your face flowered in surreptitious joyYou knew first that triumph of transgression? Was it under a kitchen lightAs you lay bare fish bones of guiltYou exorcis...
  •    March 2011
    同居 他们将在街头同人生的三个意向相遇: 老人烟斗的余火、儿童涂写在墙上的笔迹 和湿漉漉的雨中行走的女人的小腿...... 他们徘徊了一整夜 围绕小白房子寻找标记 太阳升起来了,归宿仍不能断决 错误就从这时发生 没有经过祈祷 他们就会睡到一张床上 并且毫不顾忌室外光线 在晚些时候的残酷照射 因而能够带着动人的笑容睡去 像故去一样 竟然连再温柔的事情 也懒得回忆 就起身穿行街道 一直走进那 毫无标记的楼房大门 他们因此而消失 同母亲临终前 预言过的一模一样 其实在他们内心 时时都在寻找 穿插那段往事的机会 时时都在用暗语交谈 就像雪天 用轻柔的步子从雾里归来 剥喂病人桔子时的心情一样 那花房的花 透过紫红的霜雾 肯定给他们留下难忘的印象 让他们的情调 就此炽烈起来 那就让他们 再短暂地昏迷一下吧 ——去 给他们一个拍节 但不要给他们以觉察 不要让他们同居...
  • Photo by Kables/Flickr Their language rolls out, soft carpet in front of them.Strolling slowly beneath trees, men in white shirts, belts, baggy trousers,women in scarves,glinting cigarettes in the dusk.What they left to be here, in the cold country,where winter lasts forever,haunts them in the dark –golden hue of souk in sunlight,gentle calling through str...
  •            How sweet the past is, no matter how wrong, or how sad.                                                            – Charles Wright I watch the icicles              unravel from the rooftops of this winter town,everything       everyone         turned lazy toward the sun’syellow-gold tease. Clutch of mud at my feet and I’m reduced. ——— Once on that field near the flat blue ho...
  • NB: Karlsson on the Roof and its sequels, the children's books by Astrid Lindgren (best known in the English-speaking world for her Pippi Longstocking), are immensely popular in Russia, where they served as the basis for a beloved cartoon series. Their main characters are a little boy called Lillebror ("Junior") and a chubby little man named Karlsson who lives on the roof. Karlsson flies...
  • Photo by Pieter Stockmans “Syrian refugees go about their business in a refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan . . .”  Ropes on poles, jeans & shirts flapping in wind.He sits on a giant bag of rice, head in hands.  Too much or too little, rips & bursts & furrows. Something seared in a pan.  If you knew a mother, any mother, you would carefor...
  •   White Body Radiation Every day adjustments   before give upbefore make do   start where a clothespin clips a nose and breath is held until – What is a thing of beautyif it isn’t us? And if a body is hellwhat then? And if one can’t bear to look back at the sight of what one has come for then the other, the retrieved, just keeps waltzing toward light. Right?  Is six paces back far enough to danc...
  • Here, every child is scared to playHere, every squirrel has a bullet-proof home Here, every old man wants to commit suicideThere is no difference between a soldier and a manNo difference between the killer and the killedBoth are poor, both are hungry, both are tortured. Poets of India, can you walk between two fires?   Translation from the Bengali By the poet
  •    July 2011
    in the wind they sowed their long phrases– like scarves they'd wave in the wind – the wind ripped many scarves by chanceand carried them away in frayed cloud shapes – the poet always scatters her words to the wind– three thousand drones die for one to touch the queen –they write they write and they'll know no more dyingif the page were marble, if it were water – you who write uselessly question,s...
  • Inventing Peace I make this room a country of peace. Within these walls, I am the harmony of an individualwith no nationalism, claims or agenda, no chorus of discord, no borders but redwood wainscotting. I invent this gold lightby noticing and appreciating the light. I am every human in this roomand I make this parlour a canton of peace. It starts with one, so I invent a space of calm – the furn...
  • why did I keep yelling I'm an electricianI'm no electrician what came over me I gestured at outletscozied up to the circuit box, held the meter close no one is buying it here's my license, look, my certificatewires sticking out of all my pockets they just look at me in silence give me five minutes and I'll close any circuitI'll get soldering you won't be able to stop me what kind of people are yo...
  • Norge Espinosa Mendoza. Photo by Carolina Vilches In the wee hours of the sinister National Night,when winter is nothing, and nostalgia can barely endure,I return to you, I shield myself in you, I seek shelter between your legs,trying to find your other face that speaks to me.While hospitals celebrate the occasionof other predisposed deaths, alone, your body accompanies mein deserted houses that...
  •    July 2012
    The Suicides They ask: the world gives them a stone,revolving until the greater part of her is in darkness. Out among the night-stations the signals falter,the mechanism of the cell winds down. We can do nothing now but watch, watch and wait,leaving them to the winds, the drag of the tides, who lately were apt to brood upon themselves and hatcha rope, a hook, a chair, a bell, a solicitude: rarely...
  •   I spread out earth’s green bedI pull in sky’s blue veilI place sun and moon on two pillowsI remove grass’s attireI indulge in play with you. Translation from the Hindi By Sudeep Sen
  •    July 2011
    A turkey-oak two hundred years old nowno one has pollarded. Beneath itthere live vipers – woody elbows acheagainst the back. And one nightupon the roots, you rebelled, and with such violenceas to remain offended, inside,at male amour-propre. When the trunk'ssawn through (though it seems impossibleit'll befall quite thus)and we can precisely count its yearsin the pith's circles, no one will ever m...
  • to V. L. Where were you led by the keyword searchfor your own name, following the links,you suddenly find yourself twenty years laterin an apartment without a single book,without bookshelves.Your town has completely gone to seed, and never(you can watch the weather forecast to the end)never on a single channelwill it be mentioned by the meteorologist.(Weather takes shape at random.)Yet the heatin...

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