Friday, 30 August 2013


Like a fading piece of cloth
I am a failure.

No longer do I cover tables filled with food and laughter
My seams are frayed my hems falling my strength no longer able
To hold the hot and cold

I wish for those first days
When just woven I could keep water
From seeping through
Repelled stains with the tightness of my weave
Dazzled the sunlight with my 

I grow old though pleased with my memories
The tasks I can no longer complete
Are balanced by the love of the tasks gone past

I offer no apology only 
this plea:

When I am frayed and strained and drizzle at the end
Please someone cut a square and put me in a quilt
That I might keep some child warm

And some old person with no one else to talk to
Will hear my whispers

And cuddle

Nikki Giovanni

Yolande Cornelia "Nikki" Giovanni Jr. is an American writer, commentator, activist, and educator. She is currently a distinguished professor of English at Virginia Tech.

Friday, 23 August 2013


The day the world ends
will be clean and orderly
like the notebook
of the best student in the class.
The town drunk
will sleep in a ditch,
the express train will pass
without stopping at the station
and the regimental band 
will endlessly practice
the march they have played in the square for twenty years.

Only some children
will leave their kites tangled
in telephone lines
to run home crying
not knowing what to tell their mothers
and I will carve my initials
in the bark of a linden tree
knowing that it won’t do any good.

The kids will play football
in the empty lot on the edge of town.
The holy sects will come out 
to sing on the street corners.
The crazy old woman will pass with her parasol.
And I will say to myself: “The world cannot end,
because here on the patio the pigeons and the sparrows
 are still squabbling over the grains."

Jorge Teillier

translated from the Spanish by Miller Williams

Friday, 16 August 2013


With a green scarf I blindfolded 
the eyes of the trees
and asked them to catch me.

At once the trees caught me,
their leaves shaking with laughter.

I blindfolded the birds
with a scarf of clouds
and asked them to catch me.

The birds caught me
with a song.

Then with a smile I blindfolded
my sorrow
and the day after it caught me
with a love.

I blindfolded the sun
with my nights
and asked the sun to catch me.

I know where you are, the sun said,
just behind that time.
Don’t bother to hide any longer.

Don’t bother to hide any longer,
said all of them,
as well as all the feelings
I tried to blindfold.

Marin Sorescu

Translated from the Romanian by Michael Hamburger

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


And we love life if we find a way to it.
We dance in between martyrs and raise a minaret for violet or palm trees.

We love life if we find a way to it.

And we steal from the silkworm a thread to build a sky and fence in this departure.
We open the garden gate for the jasmine to go out as a beautiful day on the streets.

We love life if we find a way to it.

And we plant, where we settle, some fast growing plants, and harvest the dead.
We play the flute like the colour of the faraway, sketch over the dirt corridor a neigh.
We write our names one stone at a time, O lightning make the night a bit clearer.

We love life if we find a way to it. . . . .

Mahmoud Darwish

translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah

Friday, 2 August 2013


Placing a book in my hands, the angel said, “It holds all you would wish to know.” And he vanished.
So I opened the book, which wasn’t thick.
It was written in an unknown alphabet.
Scholars translated it, but produced very different versions.
They disagreed even about their own readings, agreeing neither upon the tops or bottoms of them, nor the beginnings, nor the ends.
Toward the close of this vision, it seemed to me that the book
melted, until it could no longer be told apart from the world that surrounds us.

Paul Valéry

translated from the French by Carolyn Forché 

Ambroise-Paul-Toussaint-Jules Valéry was a French poet, essayist, and philosopher. His interests were sufficiently broad that he can be classified as a polymath.