My Art

Arab Andalusian
1212 – 1269


Tell the faqih on my behalf:
loving the beautiful one is my art.

My drink, with him from the glass,
and the hadra, with those gathered round,
Close by, good companions.
They lifted the weight from me.

Tell the faqih on my behalf:
loving the beautiful one is my art.

What kind of believer do you take me for?
The law revivifies me
and the truth annihilates me.
Know that I am a Sunni.

Tell the faqih on my behalf:
loving the beautiful one is my art.

And know that there is no one home
except you, so let’s get to the point.
Enter into the arena with me.
Have faith. Don’t push me away.

Tell the faqih on my behalf:
loving the beautiful one is my art.

If you could see me at home
when I raise the curtains
and my love is naked with me…
In union with him, I am made glad.

Tell the faqih on my behalf:
loving the beautiful one is my art.

So leave me be and spare me your delusions,
for you lust for yourself
and this world is your boudoir.
Wake up, you will see my beauty.

Tell the faqih on my behalf:
loving the beautiful one is my art.

Translation by Lourdes María Alvarez

Wednesday Afternoon

Karlo Mila
b. 1974


My father is “having fun”
cleaning the floor
he uses the plugged in sink as a bucket
wears rags on his feet
and shimmies to a cleaning beat
he asks me to read the label
on the bottle for him
he wants our floor to shine
and laughs when (surprise)
it does
this is how I will remember him
moonwalking across our kitchen floor
rags under his feet
“that’s how my mother taught me”
he says
“but I never take any note
it takes me forty years to do what she say”

First Green

Staceyann Chin
b. 1972


Earmark me images
speckles pretty
with the tears of a child

open windows and summer
ominous air-marked with the first green

over-turned poems
mouths tinkling humor

pages rustling
sensible shoes

they unwind me
orange and gray laces

you/me entwined/separate
ice cream hinting the weather

may soon be

This self-sufficient black lady has shaken things up

We present this work in honor of the Buddha’s birthday.

Yeshe Tsogyel
c. 757 – 817


Listen, faithful Tibetans!
I am merging with the fundamental, the ground of all that is—
physical pain and suffering are disappearing…

The son, the inner elements of my body,
is reuniting with the mother, the outer elements.
Her physical remains will disappear into earth and stone.

The compassion of the Guru has never left me;
his manifestations fill all the world and call out to welcome me.

This wild lady has done everything;
Many times have I come and gone, but now, no longer.
I am a Tibetan wife sent back to her family.
I shall now appear as the Queen, the All-good, the Dharmakaya.

This self-sufficient black lady
has shaken things up far and wide;
now the shaking will carry me away into the southwest.

I have finished with intrigues,
with the fervent cascades of schemes and deceptions;
I am winding my way into the expanse of the Dharma.

I have mourned many men of Tibet who have left me behind—
but now I am the one who will go to the land of the Buddhas.

Translation by Tarthan Tulku


We present this work in honor of the poet’s 220th birthday.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 – 1882


It is time to be old,
To take in sail:—
The god of bounds,
Who sets to seas a shore,
Came to me in his fatal rounds,
And said: “No more!
No farther shoot
Thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root.
Fancy departs: no more invent;
Contract thy firmament
To compass of a tent.
There’s not enough for this and that,
Make thy option which of two;
Economize the failing river,
Not the less revere the Giver,
Leave the many and hold the few.
Timely wise accept the terms,
Soften the fall with wary foot;
A little while
Still plan and smile,
And,—fault of novel germs,—
Mature the unfallen fruit.
Curse, if thou wilt, thy sires,
Bad husbands of their fires,
Who, when they gave thee breath,
Failed to bequeath
The needful sinew stark as once,
The Baresark marrow to thy bones,
But left a legacy of ebbing veins,
Inconstant heat and nerveless reins,—
Amid the Muses, left thee deaf and dumb,
Amid the gladiators, halt and numb.”

As the bird trims her to the gale,
I trim myself to the storm of time,
I man the rudder, reef the sail,
Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime:
“Lowly faithful, banish fear,
Right onward drive unharmed;
The port, well worth the cruise, is near,
And every wave is charmed.”

Why Was Adam

Attar of Nishapur
1145 – 1220


‘Why was Adam driven from the garden?’
The pupil asked his master. ‘His heart was hardened
With images, a hundred bonds that clutter the earth
Chained Adam to the cycle of death following birth.
He was blind to this equation, living for something other
Than God and so out of paradise he was driven
With his mortal body’s cover his soul was shriven.
Noblest of God’s creatures, Adam fell with blame,
Like a moth shriveled by the candle’s flame,
Into history which taught mankind shame.
Since Adam had not given up his heart
To God’s attachment, there was no part
For Adam in paradise where the only friend
Is God; His will is not for Adam to imagine and bend.’

Translation by Raficq Abdulla

Il Cinque Maggio

We present this work in honor of the 150th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Alessandro Manzoni
1785 – 1873


He was – As motionless as lay,
First mingled with the dead,
The relics of the senseless clay,
Whence such a soul had fled, –
The Earth astounded holds her breath,
Struck with the tidings of his death:
She pauses the last hour to see
Of the dread Man of Destiny;
Nor knows she when another tread,
Like that of the once mighty dead,
Shall such a footprint Leave impressed
As his, in blood, upon her breast.

I saw him blazing on his throne,
Yet hailed him not: by restless fate
Hurled from the giddy summit down;
Resume again his lofty state:
Saw him at last for ever fall,
Still mute amid the shouts of all:
Free from base flattery, when he rose;
From baser outrage, when he fell:
Now his career has reached its close,
My voice is raised, the truth to tell,
And o’er his exiled urn will try
To pour a strain that shall not die.

From Alps to Pyramids were thrown
His bolts from Scylla to the Don,
From Manzanares to the Rhine,
From sea to sea, unerring hurled;
And ere the flash had ceased to shine,
Burst on their aim, – and shook the world.
Was this true glory? – The high doom
Must be pronounced by times to come:
For us, we bow before His throne,
Who willed, in gifting mortal clay
With such a spirit, to display
A grander impress of his own.

His was the stormy, fierce delight
To dare adventure’s boldest scheme;
The soul of fire, that burned for might,
And could of naught but empire dream;
And his the indomitable will
That dream of empire to fulfil,
And to a greatness to attain
‘T were madness to have hoped to gain:
All these were his; nor these alone; –
Flight, victory, exile, and the throne; –
Twice in the dust by thousands trod,
Twice on the altar as a god.

Two ages stood in arms arrayed,
Contending which should victor be:
He spake: – his mandate they obeyed,
And bowed to hear their destiny.
He stepped between them, to assume
The mastery, and pronounce their doom;
Then vanished, and inactive wore
Life’s remnant out on that lone shore.
What envy did his palmy state,
What pity his reverses move,
Object of unrelenting hate,
And unextinguishable love!

As beat innumerable waves
O’er the last floating plank that saves
One sailor from the wreck, whose eye
Intently gazes o’er the main,
Far in the distance to descry
Some speck of hope, – but all in vain;
Did countless waves of memory roll
Incessant, thronging on his soul:
Recording, for a future age,
The tale of his renown,
How often on the immortal page
His hand sank weary down!

Oft on some sea beat cliff alone
He stood, – the lingering daylight gone,
And pensive evening come at last, –
With folded arms, and eyes declined;
While, O, what visions on his mind
Came rushing – of the past!
The rampart stormed, – lie tented field, –
His eagles glittering far and wide, –
His columns never taught to yield, –
His cavalry’s resistless tide,
Watching each motion of his hand,
Swift to obey the swift command.

Such thoughts, perchance, last filled his breast,
And his departing soul oppressed,
To tempt it to despair;
Till from on high a hand of might
In mercy came to guide its flight
Up to a purer air, –
Leading it, o’er hope’s path of flowers,
To the celestial plains,
Where greater happiness is ours
Than even fancy feigns,
And where earth’s fleeting glories fade
Into the shadow of a shade.

Immortal, bright, beneficent,
Faith, used to victories, on thy roll
Write this with joy; for never bent
Beneath death’s hand a haughtier soul;
Thou from the worn and pallid clay
Chase every bitter word away,
That would insult the dead:
His holy crucifix, whose breath
Has power to raise and to depress,
Send consolation and distress,
Lay by him on that lowly bed
And hallowed it in death.

To the Literary Ladies

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 100th birthday.

Dorothy Hewett
1923 – 2002


Here they come the clever ladies
in their detachable Peter Pan collars
their fringes their sober mein
hiding such anger such
subtle vices dizzying torments
how do they manage to keep it intact
that demeanour? Is it something they’ve learned?
Not from George rough-hewn or Emily
choking her mastiff down on the moors.
No it’s Jane with her simpering smile
her malice her maidenly virtues
rustling through the 20th Century seminars
sitting on platforms discussing
manner and style how to instruct
& parry impertinent questions.