||Poems gathered and translated by John Balaban,
Ca Dao Vietnam: Vietnamese Folk Poetry
trans., Ca Dao Vietnam: Vietnamese Folk Poetry (Copper Canyon)
Egrets bear egret sons.
Mother's after shrimp. Little one's at home.
Mother Egret has flown far off
and be roped by Brother Eel!
Nearby, a man poling a bamboo keel
slides through cattails to catch eel and fowl.
Poling clumsily, he rams his prow.
Brother Eel dives. Mother flies off.
Stepping into the field, sadness fills my deep heart.
Bundling rice sheaves, tears dart in two streaks.
Who made me miss the ferry's leaving?
Who made this shallow creek that parts both sides?
Hatred for Diem-Americans will last a thousand years.
Seven years now of laying waste our southern land.
So I must shoulder a gun and head for the fighting.
Your fate is a girl's: house, garden, and fields.
Little one, go to sleep. Sleep soundly.
Mother's gone to market; father ploughs the fields.
for rice and clothing, so the land yields a good home.
Study hard, little one, grow up
to tend our native place, these mountains and rivers.
Become worthy of our Lac-Hong race
so our parents' faces can widen in smiles.
Leaving the Village
Even when cross planks are nailed down,
bamboo bridges are shaky, unsound. Hard going.
Hard going, so push on home to tidal flats to catch crab,
to the river for fish, to our sandy patch for melons.
The Red Cloth
Sad, idle, I think of my dead mother,
her mouth chewing rice, her tongue removing fish bones.
The Red Cloth drapes the mirror frame.
Men of one country should love one another.
|| Poems from Alice Walker, Absolute Trust
in the Goodness of the Earth
Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth: New Poems (Random
Despite the Hunger
in a garden
He told me
Some of them were holding hands
To these ones
Leaping, holding hands
In the last
There is no more
How to miss
Near and far
Far and wide
(Even if we leap
In such haste
It is certain
There will remain
Nothing of us
Consider: the pilot
Those who wish
Will never believe
But how enlightenment
We may never
It may come
If it does not come
In this lifetime
We may be hopeful
For the next.
When he tells me
Into my beloved's
It is finely
On the inside
Hairy, growing its own
It can hear!
A love of bodies
I Was So Puzzled by the Attacks
I was so
It was as if
In a race
The Same as Gold
Now that I
Is the same
I do not despair
That we are
All of us
Born to grieve.
There was a
In my dream
The other night;
She had been
Left with me
By strange women
On their way
Taking her into
Into my house
Which had no roof
||Poems from Saadi Simawe (editor), Iraqi Poetry
ed., Modern Poetry in Translation No. 19: Iraqi Poetry Today
(Modern Poetry Today)
An Iraqi Evening by Yousif al-Sa'igh
Clips from the battlefield
in an Iraqi evening:
a peaceable home
preparing their homework
a little girl
absentmindedly drawing on scrap paper
- breaking news coming shortly.
The entire house becomes ears
ten Iraqi eyes glued to the screen in frightened silence.
the smell of war
and the smell of just baked bread.
The mother raises her eyes to a photo on the wall
- May God protect you
and she begins preparing supper
and in her mind
clips float past of the battlefield
carefully selected for hope.
from Letters to My Brother (stanza 11) by Jamal Juma'h
Behold the airplane
The wing of the black Phantom
Which lays death bombs
And hatches waste on the sleepy city
Farewell, Jamhuriyya bridge
Farewell, Khillani mosque
Farewell, Suq al-Saray
Farewell, children sheltered in al-Amiriyya
Your parents will come in the morning
To see nothing but your white teeth
Glittering in your roasted bodies
Like diamonds in the coal mine
Of the New World Order.
Everyday by Abd al-Rahim Salih al-Rahim
The stubborn donkey
rises up with the rooster at daybreak
to follow exactly the same route.
At nightfall, the stubborn donkey
returns with his heavy load,
exhausted, saturated with sorrows.
The stubborn donkey,
after the usual vicissitudes of life,
stretches his limbs in the dark
and caresses his thoughts
and jumps among the stars
like a distant dream,
ethereal and alone.
Santa Claus by Dunya Mikhail
With his beard long like war
and suit red like history
Santa Claus came smiling
He asked me to take something
You are a good girl, he said
so you deserve a game
He gave me something like poetry
As I hesitated, he encouraged me
- Don't be afraid, baby
I am Santa Claus
I distribute beauty to children
Haven't you seen me before?
- But Santa Claus whom I know
comes in military uniform
and every year distributes to us
some red swords
toys for orphans
and photos of absentees
to be hung on the walls.
The Lion and the Apostle by Fadhil al-Azzawi
If you are an Apostle, whose name is engraved on the Table of Martyrs,
then I am the devouring lion, poised in front of you in the ring.
Dream as you wish of the Garden of Paradise
as I am gnawing your limbs to the bone.
Oh, do not curse me; you know very well
that we both have to do
our duty together as destined in the world.
Ascend then joyful, victorious to Eternal Heaven,
while I, the lion in the forest,
continue to roar on this earth,
and to devour all the saints.
||Poems from Harvery Shapiro (editor), Poets
of World War II
ed., Poets of World War II (The American Poets Project, 2) (Library
The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner, by Randall
From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.
A Box Comes Home, by John Ciardi
I remember the United States of America
As a flag-draped box with Arthur in it
And six marines to bear it on their shoulders.
I wonder how someone once came to remember
The Empire of the East and the Empire of the West.
As an urn maybe delivered by chariot.
You could bring Germany back on a shield once
And France in a plume. England, I suppose,
Kept coming back a long time as a letter.
Once I was Arthur dressed as the United States
of America. Now I see the United States
of America as Arthur in flag-sealed domino.
And I would pray more good will of Arthur
Than I can wholly believe. I would pray
An agreement with the United States of America
To equal Arthur's living as it equals his dying
At the red-taped grave in Woodmere
By the rain and oakleaves on the domino.
Some Remarks When Richard Hugo Came, by William Stafford
Some war, I bomb their towns from five
miles high, the flower of smoke and fire
so far there is no sound. No cry
disturbs the calm through which we fly.
Some day, a quiet day, I watch
a grassy field in the wind, the waves
forever bounding past and gone.
Friends call: I cannot look away -
And my life already happened:
Some save-up feeling caught, held on,
and shook me. Long-legged grass raced out;
a film inside my head unwound.
The bodies I had killed began to scream.
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