One Poem. One Planet. — Taslima Nasrin

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BORDER

I’m going to move ahead.
Behind me my whole family is calling,
My child is pulling my sari-end,
My husband stands blocking the door,
But I will go.
There’s nothing ahead but a river.
I will cross.
I know how to swim,
but they won’t let me swim, won’t let me cross.

There’s nothing on the other side of the river
but a vast expanse of fields,
But I’ll touch this emptiness once
and run against the wind, whose whooshing sound
makes me want to dance.
I’ll dance someday
and then return.

I’ve not played keep-away for years
as I did in childhood.
I’ll raise a great commotion playing keep-away someday
and then return.

For years I haven’t cried with my head
in the lap of solitude.
I’ll cry to my heart’s content someday
and then return.

There’s nothing ahead but a river,
and I know how to swim.
Why shouldn’t I go?

I’ll go.

 

–Taslima Nasrin (Bangladesh)

 

 

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One Poem. One Planet. — Ferreira Gullar

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SUBVERSIVE

Poetry
when she comes
respects nothing.
Neither father nor mother.
When she struggles
up from one of her abysses
she ignores Society and the State
disdains Water Regulations
hee-haws
like a young
whore
in front of the Palace of Dawn.*

And only later
does she reconsider: kisses
the eyes of those who earn little
gathers into her arms
those who thirst for happiness
and justice

And promises to set the country on fire.

 

— Ferreira Gullar (Brazil)

 

*The presidential palace in Brasilia.

 

 

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One Poem. One Planet. — Robert Gray

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KARL MARX
Karl Marx was playing a parlor game
with his daughters. To their question
What is the quality one should most abhor?
he wrote: Servility.

This was found–a scrap of paper
amongst the family albums and letters;
it is the most essential of all
the Complete Works.

 

— Robert Gray (Australia)

 

 

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One Poem. One Planet. — Sherko Bekas

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IN A FOREST

 

Darkness came
And in its lair, a lion thought
Of how, tomorrow, to attack the neighboring tiger.
The tiger was thinking:
Of how, tomorrow, to skin the fox.
The fox was thinking:
Of how, tomorrow, to approach the
garden’s gate to eat
the baby-doves.
The dove was thinking:
Of how, tomorrow, to bring together
the hunter, the birds and
the animals of the forest.
How could she, she wondered.

— Sherko Bekas (Iraq)

 

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One Poem. One Planet. — Federico Garcia Lorca

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LITTLE BALLAD OF THE THREE RIVERS

The river Guadalquivir
winds through orange and olive trees.
The two rivers of Granada
descend from the snow to the wheat.

Ay, love
that went away and never returned!

The river Guadalquivir
has whiskers of garnet.
The two rivers of Granada,
one weeping and the other blood.

Ay, love
that went away through the air!

For ships with sail
Sevilla has a route;
in the waters of Granada
only sighs row about.

Ay, love
that went away and never returned!

Guadalquivir, a tall tower
and wind in the orange groves.
Darro and Genil, dead little
towers rising from the lakes.

Ay, love
that went away through the air!

One could say that the water carries
a will-o’-the-wisp filled with cries!

Ay, love
that went away and never returned!

Carry orange blossom, carry olives,
Andalusia, down to your seas.

Ay, love
that went away through the air!

 

— Federico Garcia Lorca, (Spain) from Poem of the Deep Song

 

 

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One Poem. One Planet. — Janos Pilinszky

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FABLE
(Detail from KZ-Oratorio: Dark Heaven)

Once upon a time
there was a lonely wolf
lonelier than the angels.

He happened to come to a village.
He fell in love with the first house he saw.

Already he loved its walls
the caresses of its bricklayers.
But the window stopped him.

In the room sat people.
Apart from God nobody ever
found them so beautiful
as this child-like beast.

So at night he went into the house.
He stopped in the middle of the room
and never moved from there any more.

He stood all through the night, with wide eyes
and on into the morning when he was beaten to death.

 

-Janos Pilinszky, (Hungary)

 

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One Poem. One Planet. — Muriel Rukeyser

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THE CHILDREN’S ORCHARD

In the full sun. In the fruitfall season.
Against my knees the earth and the bucket, and the soft blue prunes
echoing red      echoing purple      echoing in the silver bucket
sun, and over the flames of earth the sun flies down.

Over my head the little trees tremble alive in their black branches
and bare-ribbed boys golden and shouting stoop here to gather the blue,
the wild-red, the dark.      Colors of ripeness in the fruitfall season.
I will remember the last light on the lowest branch.

Will see these trees as they were in spring, wild black rooted in light,
root-deep in noon, the piercing yellow noon of mustard-blossom.
Sun breathing on us the scent of heat, richness of air where my hands know
blue, full summer, strong sun.      I tell you harvest.

 

–Muriel Rukeyser, (USA)

 

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One Poem. One Planet. — Cesar Vallejo

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LXXIII

Another ay has triumphed. The truth is there.
And whoever acts that way, won’t he know
how to train excellent dijitigrades
for the mouse? Yes…No…?

Another ay has triumphed and against no one.
Oh exosmosis of water chemically pure.
Ah my southerns. Oh our divines.
I have the right then
to be green and happy and dangerous, and to be
the chisel, what the coarse colossal block fears;
to put my foot in and to my laughter.

Absurdity, only you are pure.
Absurdity, only facing you does this ex-
cess sweat golden pleasure.

–Cesar Vallejo, (Peru) from Trilce

 

 

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One Poem. One Planet. — Jorge Luis Borges

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STREET WITH A PINK CORNER STORE

 

Gone into night are all the eyes from every intersection
and it’s like a drought anticipating rain.
Now all roads are near,
even the road of miracles.
The wind brings with it a slow, befuddled dawn.
Dawn is our fear of doing different things and it comes over us.
All the blessed night I have been walking
and its restlessness has left me
on this street, which could be any street.
Here again the certainty of the plains
on the horizon
and the barren terrain that fades into weeds and wire
and the store as bright as last night’s new moon.
The corner is familiar like a memory
with those spacious squares and the promise of a courtyard.
How lovely to attest to you, street of forever, since my own days have
witnessed so few things!
Light draws streaks in the air.
My years have run down roads of earth and water
and you are all I feel, strong rosy street.
I think it is your walls that conceived sunrise,
store so bright in the depth of night.
I think, and the confession of my poverty
is given voice before these houses:
I have seen nothing of mountain ranges, rivers, or the sea,
but the light of Buenos Aires made itself my friend
and I shape the lines of my life and my death with that light of the street.
Big long-suffering street,
you are the only music my life has understood.

 

–Jorge Luis Borges, (Argentina)

 

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One Poem. One Planet. — Anna Akhmatova

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SEASIDE SONNET

Everything here will outlive me–Everything,
Even those ramshackly birdhouses there
And all this air, this springtime air,
That has made the oceanic crossing.

And the voice of eternity is calling
Otherworldly, irresistible,
And over the cherry tree, blooming, full,
The moon’s brilliant light is falling.

And the road running easy and white,
In emerald thickets is lost to sight,
I don’t know where it will end…

It’s lighter among the trees,
It’s all like the paths one sees
By the Tsarskoselsky pond.

–Anna Akhmatova, (Russia) 1958

 

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