Kidnap Poem

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 80th birthday.

Nikki Giovanni
b. 1943


Ever been kidnapped
by a poet
if i were a poet
i’d kidnap you
put you in my phrases and meter
You to jones beach
or maybe coney island
or maybe just to my house
lyric you in lilacs
dash you in the rain
blend into the beach
to complement my see
Play the lyre for you
ode you with my love song
anything to win you
wrap you in the red Black green
show you off to mama
yeah if i were a poet i’d kid
nap you

To find a kiss of yours

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 125th birthday.

Federico Garcia Lorca
1898 – 1936


To find a kiss of yours
what would I give
A kiss that strayed from your lips
dead to love

My lips taste
the dirt of shadows

To gaze at your dark eyes
what would I give
Dawns of rainbow garnet
fanning open before God—

The stars blinded them
one morning in May

And to kiss your pure thighs
what would I give
Raw rose crystal
sediment of the sun

Translation by Sarah Arvio


We present this work in honor of the 90th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Ahmet Haşim
1884 – 1933


Deep down, the night has massed again
My darling smiles in her wonted place
My darling who doesn’t come by day
Appears at night by the pool.

The moonlight a sash for her waist
The heavens her secret veil
The stars roses in her hand.

Translation by Murat Nemet Nejat

The Long March

We present this work in honor of the 45th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Malek Haddad
1927 – 1978


I am the final point of a novel that begins
Let us not forget everything above level zero
I sustain my romance intact between my eyes
Then, denying nothing, I set out once again
I am the final point of a novel that begins
No need to distinguish the horizon from the dance
And within my burnous my house survives
I am the final point of a novel that begins
Of my two Saharas I compose my song
I sustain my romance intact between my eyes
I am in the truth the pupil and the lesson

Often I recall having been a shepherd…
Then in my eyes there’s that long-suffering look
Of a fellah who watches in his unbreakable hands
The history of a country where the orange tree will be born
Often I recall having been a shepherd
I have sliced the galette
I have parted the figs
My daughter
I have married well
It has no equal
To the gun
To the task
Than my eldest son
My wife was the finest in the valley.
Among us the word fatherland has a taste of anger
My hand has caressed the heart of palm trees
The handle of my ax opens an epic
And I have seen my grandfather Mokrani
Finger his beads watching eagles pass
Among us the word fatherland possesses a taste of legend

Daddy !
Why have you deprived me
Of fleshly music
Your son
Learning to speak in another tangue
Words that I have known
Since I was a shepherd lad

Ah my God The night so much night in my eyes
Mummy calls herself Ya Ma while I say Mother
I have mislaid my burnous my gun my pen
And I bear a first name falser than my deeds
Ah the night my God but what’s the good of whistling
Fear You’re afraid Fear You’re afraid Fear You’re afraid
Since a man stalks you like some frightful mirror
Your school friends and the streets the jokes
But since I tell you I’m a Frenchman
just look at my clothes my accent my house
I who turn a race into a profession
Saying Tunisian when I mean “tradesman”
I who think of a Jew as some wretched homegrown
soldier? Come on then, my sister wears no veil
And in the Lycee didn’t take all the prizes for french?

Ah my God the night so much night in my eyes

Translation by Robert Fraser

Sea Fever

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 145th birthday.

John Masefield
1878 – 1967


I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea’s face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

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.

Han Walls

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 125th birthday.

Faruk Nafiz Çamlıbel
1898 – 1973


Whinnied the dark horses; cracked the leather whip in air,
The wagon paused in its tracks for a moment.
For a long while rattled the springboard beneath me.
Caravanserais one after another passed in front my eyes…
With a heavy and homesick heart, I was on my way,
Along the Ulukişla road heading into Central Anatolia.
Like a first love, a first hurt, a first separation!
The air was warmed by the fire burning in my heart,
Yellow sky, yellow land, yellow bare trees…
Behind me, the high range of the Taurus Mountains,
Ahead, foothills faded by a long winter,
On spun the wheels, moaning with each turn….
My hands clutched the mane of the wind
Our wagon advanced along the mountain slope.
Everywhere was steep, everywhere was quiet,
Only the driver had a whistle on his lips!
The winding roads responded to his whistle
Snaking roads which appeared asleep
Raised their heads to listen to the emptiness.
The skies clouded over, the wind cooled down.
It began to drizzle.
As the last slope opened up onto flat a pasture
An endless plain dawned in front of us
The road connected us in one long ribbon to the horizon.
This strange land steadily drew me into it.
The road, nothing but the road, ever the road…flatness with no end in sight.
Nary the vision of a village or a house anywhere to be seen,
In the end, it is nothingness the road declares to man,
Now and then passed a rider on horseback, or a couple of foot-travelers.
Rattling over broken stones on the path,
The wheels conveyed something to the route,
The long roads vibrated amidst this clatter….
I surrendered unto the noise of the wheels
and stretched out on the thin blanket of the springboard.

A sudden jolt…I woke up from a deep sleep;
The wagon was passing over the road as smooth as water.
Ahead of us like a castle loomed the town of Niğde,
Sounds of small bells on the right:
Ahead, a camel caravan plodded slowly forth,
At the edge of the city emerged a ruined han.
A dappled darkness enveloped all,
We entered the han and unfettered the horses.
Searching a salve for throbbing wounds,
Sojourners had now gathered in the han.
Wayfarers from every corner of the land had come together here in one place,
Souls filled with homesickness clustered near the campfire.
All eyes were riveted to the glow,
Chests heaved to breathe.
The kerosene lamp blackened with soot
Drew gloomy streaks across all their faces.
The marks on their cheeks and the grief in their eyes
Gradually deepened into verses…
There was a dark wall beside my bed,
Covered with all kinds of marks and writing;
Whoever slept here had left his mortal trace on the wall,
Languid lines and lewd drawings…
I retired early at the end of this sorrowful day,
And as my wakeful eyes wandered over the wall,
Suddenly a few lines in bright red burned forth
It did not seem as a stanza of four lines, but rather like four drops of blood.
As I struggled by parse these lines on the wall
I felt I had met up with an old poet friend;
“I have been gone from Kinadağ for fourteen years now
Away from my sweet home, away from my love
Never gathering a flower from the garden of my love
Banished from one corner of the earth to the next.”
Underneath was a date: eight March, thirty seven…
I did not see any name in the place of a signature.
Destiny is in front of you, don’t be sad, my friend!
Finished now are borders, army service, wars;
Do not regret that your youth has slipped away.
The glory you took from the frontiers will reach your love!…
We moved on before sunrise on the following day,
A cold March morning… each breath froze in air.
The first rays of dawn enflamed the horizon.
We left behind us the houses at the edge of the city.
The sun rose and set behind the clouds;
In the distance appeared mounds as hulky as mountains …
Caravans slowly strode beside us,
Old hans seemingly built by a feudal lord passed in view.
Our journey kept moving ahead along these endless roads,
There, through the pass choked between two mountains.
There, where the frigid northwest wind scared me to death
I was filled with joy after crossing the mountain pass:
The places I left behind will meet the spring,
The land ahead of us was still covered with snow.
The mountain pass separated winter from summer,
Here, the final storm snapped off the last branch…
The carriage continued on at the same speed,
Snow began to hurl around us.
It buried all in a white darkness;
It was not snow that fell from the sky; but rather death…
Inside of me perished the longing to reach a village
The carriage driver yelled out: “Over there… Araplibeli!”
May God help those who remain on these roads
At the end of a day’s journey, we led our horses into a han.
Three or four travelers had arrived ahead of us
They sat cross-legged before the open fire,
The crackling wood enlivened all four with spirit,
One told a story of a bandit, the other the fable of a wolf…
As I began to doze off to sleep,
The black soot left petal-like images on the wall.
These lines in my heart emerged from the black soot,
“If the remembrance of my love enflames my desire;
My strength is not enough to fight it
I journey forth like a dried leaf
The wind decides my destiny.”
In the morning, the sky was bright and the horizon clear,
Our carriage headed out on the road to meet a sunny day
Along these endless roads passing from one foreign land to another.
It has been but three days since I left, but it feels as long as three seasons.
After a long ride, we arrived in Incesu,
Exhausted, we fell into a sweet slumber in a han.
At sunrise I awoke from a dream of death,
I felt much sorrow when I read these lines above my bed!
“I am a stranger, people call me Kerem
They took my beloved Asli away from me and said she was forbidden to me
I am ill; they say it is tuberculosis
My name is Satilmiş, I am the son of a sheik from Maraş.”
One feels that it was his epitaph writ in those lines,
I fear you never made it home from this foreign land.
O You! Son of a sheik from Maraş, saint’s vow!
Cursed was your luck that you could not cross this mountaın!
Let it be, for you are not the only one who never made it back home,
Many have perished among nameless bandits and wolves in the wilderness!…
Our carriage headed out on the road towards Mount Erciyes:
“Han Keeper”, I asked, “have you ever met the son of a sheik from Maraş?”
His startled eyes peered at me for quite a while,
He then replied:
“A while back he entered this han a healthy man and he left it dead!”
Everything changed now in front of my tear-filled eyes,
Şeyhoğlu, our sojourner far from home, never made it beyond this han…
The sad news of the fellow wayfarer from Maraş tore at my heart.
Many years have passed since that day until now
Yet still I shudder each time I pass a han along the road.
For I know the secret sorrows held within their walls
O! These ancient roads which connect villages to frontiers,
Ancient roads grieving for those who will never return home!
O! These han walls writ with such mournful lines
O! These han walls which wring my heart!…

Translation by Katharine Branning


Ursula Bethell
1874 – 1945


When I am very earnestly digging
I lift my head sometimes, and look at the mountains,
And muse upon them, muscles relaxing.

I think how freely the wild grasses flower there,
How grandly the storm-shaped trees are massed in their gorges,
And the rain-worn rocks strewn in magnificent heaps.

Pioneer plants on those uplands find their own footing,
No vigorous growth, there, is an evil weed;
All weathers are salutary.

It is only a little while since this hillside
Lay untrammelled likewise,
Unceasingly swept by transmarine winds.

In a very little while, it may be,
When our impulsive limbs and our superior skulls
Have to the soil restored several ounces of fertiliser,

The Mother of all will take charge again,
And soon wipe away with her elements
Our small fond human enclosures.