International Poetry الشعر শ্লোক ကဗျာ ליבע ਪਿਆਰ өлүм
with Tendai Rinos Mwanaka and Rameeza Nasim
The hiss of an air-con is like the hiss of a plane,
About to take off, to faraway places.
I am taken back to another time.
I hear my bags snap shut.
I see clouds; I see the horizon.
I see an upside down tree,
Sway in a whirlwind.
Sharp bits of sand swirl,
Shape themselves into violence.
They scratch the surface of my soul.
I sway, I sway, but I do not let go!
I put my arms around the trunk and cry,
Help me! Help me God!
For I know not what to do.
This image is etched in memory; for always.
I clutch my special tree; its leaves up in the air.
Its roots buried in the earth.
Upside down; like me.
The wind subsides, the sun comes up.
It bathes the layers of my soul.
I open my eyes to calm; it is over!
I wish for the warmth of food.
For the comfort of hot liquid,
For the feeling of fullness,
I see as I walk past the market.
I hear laughter from those fulfilled.
Steam rises from their mugs.
Shining faces converse with each other.
But I cannot stop.
Like an old woman scrambling for loose change,
At the bottom of her raggedy bag,
I try to grip this feeling of hunger.
To own it -to control it.
I ask myself: is hunger a chronic disease?
Does it set one apart?
Do I share it with millions of faces?
Spread on the cover of magazines.
Is their grey like mine?
Tembi Charles from Zimbabwe is currently based in the United States, reading for her PhD in Comparative Literature and African Studies. Her short story, “Long Life” is published in The Ghost-Eater and Other Stories (2013) and poetry is in This is My Land (UWC Creates) 2013, Best “New” African Poets (2016 and 2017), and in Zimbolicious Poetry Anthology (Volume 2).
Letters to Martha
I saw you in my dreams last night
This time, you smiled, but
only after pulling my nose
and whispering, whatever set me ablaze
until dawn knocked on the night’s door
I watched you retire, with stars & moon
to unknown paradise yonder
And my heart sagged, insides turning hot
with a strange longing.
Come now, whispered the sea
The sand under my feet ran
to embrace the ensuing tidal wave
and wrapped me in words of honey
rolling off your tongue, like water
on leaves of grass
I defied gravity, and wrath of the sea god
to wander ashore, when the moon’s down
hoping you’ll emerge, from the blue sea, like a mermaid
and stitch the heart, torn by the worm of solitude
My heart bleeds for you, in its painful death!
The world looks strange from here
I stood on a babelian tower, to peer into the grey face of a distant future;
desperately hoping to see glories of the promised land
I train ears to savour the seasonal songs of love & promise
But, what arrests my eyes is glaring sight of blood, torn flesh & broken bones
What arrests my ears, are cries of agony, chorused
by wailing canons, detonating teargas canisters, fire-breathing guns & wielding batons
whilst smashing brains & scattering dreams
in the wake of a long-awaited new dawn.
I’ve been spat, like a worm, from a gecko’s mouth
I miss the warmth of mai’s womb
and the sweetness I sucked from her breast
But, age is adamant! I’ve been
cast–like a cheerful ray of light–far away from home
and those I shared the breast with, won’t allow me back
I run in rain of dreams, for the door of your heart
Welcome me, with real appetite, into you
and ignore angels of darkness; you befit me
like a cloth and its wearer!
a long way I’ve come, crossing great rivers of life
kissing awful creatures, with intolerable character
and suffering terrible heartaches, in a labyrinth of wild desires–
a journey one must undertake at prime age in a lifetime
to reach the warm threshold of your heart.
a long way I’ve come, to carry you on my wing
to beautiful blossoms of distant lands
if I’ve to wait, until mothers return from farms at dusk
to soothe their hunger-stricken babies with dry breasts
if I’ve to wait, until the freedom tree we painfully watered with blood
finally bears fruits to quench the fires of hunger reducing us to ashes of nothingness
i’ll quarrel not, sweetheart, a moment in your arms on this ragged piece of earth
is a jewel I’ll give anything to have!
I hear the wind, whispering sensuous melodies I haven’t tasted before
The present must be dressed in civility, to embrace the future in style
Colourful emotions perch on nests beneath our breasts
to inspire our hearts dance with glory
Lest the dust of the new-age confusion
chokes us to death.
My blood cries for you in my veins
to erase the cold numbing my flesh
and make it flow with ease
Your endearing elegance, keeps me from wandering afar
like a man, jealously guarding his roasting maize
I won’t leave you for anything else
for, a woman outvalues a piece of land!
life is a rough, narrow path; tattooed with grey thorns of uncertainty
if confronted with bare feet of ignorance
without a guiding hand of ancient wisdom
and a towering shoulder of a caring companion
who got far, without company of a fellow traveler?
the road doesn’t tell you what lies ahead
if you walk alone, you’ll be eaten on the way!
i’ve seen birds change course in mid air
and stumble to death
i’ve seen lovers eat, wild fruits in darkness
and wither before daybreak
navigating through, this labyrinth of dreams
nobody jumps out of a moving vehicle
and lives to tell the tale (to others)!
Giving your heart to someone you cherish
Is like selling your soul to the devil
The contract, once signed and sealed
Can’t be cancelled, until time dances to its end
Aren’t goods once sold not returnable?
This gospel, sweetheart
runs deep in blood
like a woman’s grasp
of her menstrual calendar!
I won’t stop loving you then
even if the sun sets at daybreak;
Your sparkling eyes will shine upon my path,
Through dark corridors of a troubled life
I won’t stop loving you then
even if the sky brightens its face, not to shed a tear for ages
Your words of honey & endearing warmth
Will nourish my heart, to grow healthy & strong
To love you a thousand seasons to come!
I won't stop loving you, even if time comes off its hinges
and brothers confront, with tools of death; settling ancient tribal scores
To my heart I'll hold, and shield you from raging fire
until the storm's over, thus rebuild shattered dreams with renewed energy!
When time grows wings and flies away, like a bird across the sea
Leaving us stranded ashore, waiting to sail across
I won't let the ground riot under your feet, fearing to break my bones
I'll bear your massive weight, from the north pole
through the equator, to the south pole--
Where dreams blossom, in fertile gold fields of the Savannah.
When the moon's down, and your youthful vitality gone
With the firmness & fullness of your breasts
that earned me sleepless nights before
electing you to govern my heart
Beside you I'll stand, like a committed soldier
dying for a cause he sacredly believes in!
I lost sight of the labyrinth, weaved with strands of innocence
Upon falling in the hot frying pan of adulthood
The future withdraws its warm hands, when I dash for it
to escape threatening woes of the present sun
Yester scars evaporate, upon seeing your golden rays of love
shining upon the path I must take, to meet destiny in piece.
The lone path greets us with a choking narrowness, every step we move
The wild wind stretches threateningly, tearing hope into bits
I feel a tremor beneath your breast, and wetness in your eyes
Aki dear, you can't break down, when daybreak smiles ahead
We must wrestle the night, to see dreams bear fruits
The future frowns most, at them fearing to mend
broken paths of the present!
A thousand songs I shall sing, by the silent village stream
To warm your heart; and smile a thousand times
A thousand rivers I waded through, enduring severe snake bites
A thousand times I lost myself, in dark alleys of evil hearts
Before redemption, conjoining my scattered pieces
was a task you painfully undertook
like refilling a cup with spilled milk!
Wafula p'Khisa is a poet, writer and teacher from Kenya who studied English, Literature & Education at Moi University. His work has been published in AfricanWriter.com, Best 'New' African Poets 2015, 2016 and 2017 Anthologies, VoicesNet.com, Mgv2 Magazine, His work has also been published in French. He blogs at http //:wafulakhisa.wordpress.com.
Put down your guns love,
Put down your fists,
Put down your doubled standards.
No love carries arms,
And no action of Love places guns,
Into the hands of anyone.
Let your women and children free Love,
They tire of hiding their tears,
Of been unworthy and unclean.
Let them free love,
They deserve to be heard and seen.
Let them free love,
Love doesn’t cause tears and fears.
Love? Why are you threatening?
حب ? You claim peace and love?
Jacayl? Why are your women and children bleeding?
Ibig? Why are your women and children screaming?
Amour? Why are your women and children not dreaming?
Rudo? Why are your women and children starving still?
Любовь ? Why are your women sold off to pigs?
사랑?Why are you buildingdeath to destroy the innocent?
Liebe? How many daughters cry to you daily?
愛 ?Why are your women still traded into sex slavery?
אַהֲבָה ? Why are daughters crying around the world?
Love, put down your guns,
Love put down your fists,
Put them down to rest,
For the women and children,
Pleading, dying and bleeding,
For Love to begin.
A synergy burning wild,
waves beneath a look of calm.
Growing like a seedling in the desert sun.
melts the snow,
alight with awe and woe.
Beauty of the green hills,
Wonder at the pure blue sky,
A breeze that bends the daffodils,
And scatters them flying.
The scent of manna and ambrosia,
upon the winds like a kiss,
The simple flutter of a butterfly’s wings.
Tears fall from heavy clouds,
joy rolls down hilly cheeks,
crying relief out loud,
sobbing its heartache down,
pouring it onto,
and the parched.
Smile and wonder,
Cry and laugh,
Delia Watterson from South Africa, has been published in Botsotso; The Beast with Two Backs in 2013, Eyes and Ears, 2015; Best New African Poets 2015 Anthology, Experimental Writing Africa Vs Latin America Volume 1. She self-published three novels of short stories, and is nearing publishing another through Mwanaka Media and Publishing 2018.
African :Poetry Editor Tendai Rinos Mwanaka is a leading poet and writer of the new generation of African writers and works hard to promote African writing through anthologies he has curated and co edited. Mwanaka has been shortlisted and won several writing awards, including being shortlisted for a record 7 times for the UK based Erbacce poetry award, 3 times nominated for the Pushcart, The Caine African Writing Award etc.
a star hovering above a pumpkin,
moonshine spilling out
from penetrated holes
mingling with pumpkin juice-
a twilit star winking, a star to a star
wagging swinging tails of constellations
the Great Hunter Orion mounts
the Big Bear
the sun rises in his starry eyes
penetrating through pumpkin walls
soaked in Pumpkin Juice,
ecstasy! immense ecstasy!
ah, the pleasures of ecstasy
in an insane frenzy-
twilit stars changing color
a pause between shadows,
a farmer hurries-
his daughter's sobs punctuation marks
great hunter Orion and the big bear and the moon beam
questing for candy tax
shamefaced stars in orange and pink
a bank's open window-
they gently glide-
stumbling into the A.T.M
dripping pumpkin juice, they emerge
with dollars clinging
to their starry bodies
they drop them along the field
under the little girl's pillow,
a strand of stars wrapped in a dollar
if the Great Bear's missing
the ends of his tail,
Hunter Orion is missing a whisker
entwine me in your layers of free verse,
entangle me into bits of your being,
bind my sanity to your stanzas,
and hold my insanity to your tender pauses
watch me melt,
well said metaphors dissolving into me,
the spaces between my fingers,
filled with stars,
watch your layers of free verse,
into a solitary well said metaphor
like my mother's smile fades,
into a mere crease on the moon
flowing layers of free verse,
gently dissolving into well said metaphors,
which shall soon separate
like sunlit snowflakes
they shall define
what my poem
I perceived a flitting snowflake
which was once a mere raindrop
my layer of free verse
was once a well said metaphor
merely a well said metaphor
III- Evaporating Twilight
a mere pause between dreams
while mocking at the mirth
gentle prayers with Granny
the bruised moon's craters, bleeding
torrents of cascading moonshine
Granny's incense stick
the ability to patch moonlit wounds
with twilit dreams
between granny and me
the walls of Granny's womb,
whitewashed with regret
rotating twilit rosemaries
between dreaming and living
yet, Granny prays
counting tender pauses between
dreams and dreaming
a brief hiatus between
dreaming and living
she's like twilight
every bead of the twilit rosemary stupefied,
we proudly pause
patching moonlit wounds
with Granny's twilit dreams
My eyes fall out
And creep on the street
My hands stretched with the sun light
Make love with the wind
Any time is the end of the world
It’s enough to drink the smell of it
It cut my artery
Word by word by word
One of these days
I leave the point
And return to the beginning of the time
In front of me
Hurricane on unknowns
Bullets of past
I close my eyes
And drink the present tea
Sat next to me
Brushed my hair
We both went to a thousand year old sleep
I separated from uterus of life
With the hand of death
Took my hand
Came out of the mirror
Combed my hair
I kissed her
Planted our feet to the soil
And painted the clouds
With our fingers
Sunset at noon had been cavity
Maziar Karim was born into a well-educated family on 28th February 1982 in Tehran Iran. He holds a BS degree in electronics and a MS degree in IT. He also holds some professional certificates such as MCSE and CCNP, and he has deep experience in astronomy. He is known for his quatrains.
The Relationship Bazaar
Translation of the sentiment from a Hindi poem Rohini Sunderam
As I was walking in the marketplace
My feet stopped at the Relationship Bazaar.
I looked around and saw it filled
With kinships for near and far
Relationships of every kind
Were offered everywhere
‘Relationships for sale’ they cried
‘Come, buy a few to spare’
Each seller had a lively trade
And I walked up to one
‘Aha!’ he cried, ‘What will you buy?
I have everything under the sun!’
With trembling lips I asked the seller
‘How much and what’s for sale?’
With a flourish he said
‘Most everything and some beyond the pale.’
‘What would you like? What will you buy?
I have a wondrous range
Special ties with a son, or a father
I have all good, some strange.’
‘Choose from a sister or a brother
Dear shopper what’s your choice?
Humanity or the love of mother
Faith? Pray, where is your voice?’
‘Come, come,’ he cajoled me,
‘Come, come, don’t hesitate!
Ask for something, anything
Your silence on me grates.’
With fear and sorrow in my voice
And with a great unease
I sighed and asked him, whispering
‘Do you have friendship, please?’
He stopped mid-sale, he stopped and stared
As if I’d lost my mind
Then tearfully he turned and said
‘Ah that is hard to find.
‘For friendship is the relationship
On which the world depends
It’s not for sale, it has no price
No price that can be named
For friendship is worth everything
This earth and then some more
It is a pure and selfless thing
And this you can be sure
The day that friendship’s offered
For a price and put on sale
Why then my dear, dear shopper
The world it will have failed
This globe will be uprooted
And lose its orbit quite
The day that friendship’s offered
And can be quoted for a price.
Slow Down Life
Attributed to the Urdu poet Gulzar, translation: Rohini Sunderam
Slow down, Life, slow down; there’s so much more I have to do
Some hurts, still need to be assuaged, and some commitments too.
Walking at your pace, you see, some were rebuffed and some slipped by
Those I snubbed I must placate, make others laugh who once did cry.
Some desires I need to satisfy, some duties I have yet to do
Some wishes lie within this heart, these I must bury ‘ere we’re through.
Some friendships I have made and broken, some in the mending, cracked again
Those I’ve broken, battered, hurt; their wounds, I need to heal their pain.
You go ahead, Life, I’ll follow you, what will I gain by leaving you?
Those who have a right to my breath, they need an explanation too.
Slow down Life, slow down, there’s so much more that’s left to do.
Rohini Sunderam is the author of Corpoetry, Desert Flower, Five Lives One Day in Bahrain (Ex-L-Ence Publishing). Contributor: Dilliwali (Authorspress), My Beautiful Bahrain series, Prose & Poetry Series (Robin Barratt). Member of Bahrain Writers' Circle.
Asian Poetry Editor Rameeza Nasim was born and lives in Karachi, Pakistan. Holding a masters degree in English Literature and Linguistics, she makes her living through writing and Blogging. Poetry is her Passion and it's something in her genes.
Inside a Cloud
If we were to live together inside a cloud,
we would rain a fall of lust.
Papers of whiteness
whenever I stumbled upon a poem,
I find it lonesome , flirting with papers of whiteness,
on the edge of the night.
To my mother
Take me to my sad coffee,
To the smell of coffee in your eyes.
to a woman who flirts the goddess, and that the prophets abandon.
Poet and Translator Fethi Sassi was born in Nabul (Tunisia). He is a writer of prose poetry, short poems and haiku; and a translator of all his poems to English. He published 5 books in French, Arabic and English. These poems come from his upcoming collection, I Throw A Star In A Wine Glass, to be published by Mwanaka Media and Publishing 2018