Shabdaguchha

The International Poetry Journal in Bengali and English



Issue 40
April-June '08

Sample Poetry in English:

D. H. Melhem

Turtle

Backing out of the driveway
I feel a crunch
(a fallen branch?)
pull forward over
a soft bump.

Wedged
behind a rear tire:
some yellowish thing,
thick, mottled
like a giant butterfly.
A turtle-crushed open-
intestines glaring.
I try to clear the tread,
prod with shoe tip
what's stuck to bluestone.

Fetch gloves and trowel.
Dig a hasty hole.
Lift the victim
with a paper bag.
Tremors
cease.

Quick-bury
(hide)
with earth with leaves.
Trembling,
I take the wheel.
A car's collateral damage.

In war, as here, it must be hard
to see what you have done.
And to bear it.

Farida Sarkar

Dictator

The World Wars are over, the days of imperialism are also done.
Those who were oppressed have been released
from the hateful harsh grip of dictatorship
and see themselves now in the earth's free light.
But dictators aren't dead yet.
Like the devil's generation
a hundred Hitlers are born from one Hitler!

Just take a look at our fathers and husbands,
each one a living Hitler.
In the all-consuming vanity of power, they seem
to grasp everything in their clenched fists.
With commands and great wrath
they want to triumph over
human dwellings, people, the very corners of the home,
and our innermost hearts
which, knowing justice and goodness to be supreme,
have not learned to compromise with lies.
Our fathers and husbands themselves have not taught
compromiseóat least in words, in the fulsome
rhetoric of their advice.

But how amazing:
how easily those fathers and husbands
forget all about democracy, equality, justice,
and turn into hypocrite fascists or Hitlers!

Translated from the Bengali by the author with Carolyne Wright

Tino Villanueva

How I Wait

Today I sit by a window, my spirit
swimming out into the deep-azure-blue of the sea.
I'm a woman waiting, in love with a man,
and in love with the love we had.
I took an oath with myself to wait,
and keep passionately waiting
even after the great shining of the sun has worn away.

I pick up my sorrow and carry it to bed,
and wait some more
before sweet sleep weighs down my eyes.
Next day I rise,
and hear myself speaking words of all-abounding hope
Öand go on waiting. These things I say aloud
to have clear thought,
to keep the day alive.

I'm a woman waiting,
waiting with the restlessness of sea-waves
repeating themselves in her head
like messages from afar
desperately making it to shore.

Hassanal Abdullah

Dogs Don't Like Me

I cross the street
And take the other walkway
When I see a dog.
It's not because
I don't like dogs.
It's because they don't like me.
They bark at me
Or try to chase me whenever I'm nearby.
Both the American and Bangladeshi dogs
Act the same way when I'm at their sight.

About a year ago
My neighbor's dog,
A cute little oneó
Long fur hanging from both sides of its headó
Was fast to chase me
Back in my house.
I was afraid and taken aback
At the same time,
Because they always said it was a gentle one.

When I was in Dhaka, in my early youth,
At one morning
I was coming out of my
Cousin's quarter in the Cantonment area,
A similar dogólater, I found it was a Colonel's petó
Chased me
As if we were in a 400-meter relay race
And bit me in my left ankle.
I took 13 shots in a row
And passed through a miserable time
Out of the fear of the terrible disease.

Now, I stay away
From both Bangladeshi and American dogs.

Sikder Avik

A Door to New Life

Every day I lie in bed sleeplessly.
With Undying thoughts I am struck with fear,
Nightmares haunting my mind mercilessly,
With a deathly hold, Iím binded near.

Death is far from far and is awaiting.
When the reaperís deadly wrath falls on me,
I, too, will join the dead and be leaving,
But my final words greet death as a key.

Death is not a mistake, but is a must.
We, People, fear death as it is the end,
But for others death may not be fear, but lust.
Death isnít as bad as the message it may send.

Alas, my life has reached its end, yet isnít over
Death may open my door, yet all I see is a blur.



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    Shabdaguchha, A Bilingual Journal of Poetry, Published in New York, Edited by Hassanal Abdullah.