Shabdaguchha: Logo_new edited by: Hassanal Abdullah issue: 67/68

Shabdaguchha: Issue 67_68


Poets and Translators:

Kazue Shinkawa  
Rin Ishigaki  
Shinmin Sakamura 
Fumio Kataoka 
Kosaburo Nagatsu 
Jotaro Wakamatsu 
Naoshi Koriyama 
Hal Sirowitz 
Stanley H. Barkan  
Kelven Ka-shing LIT 
Peter Thabit Jones
Mike Graves 
Bishnupada Ray 
Hassanal Abdullah
Dhanonjoy Saha 
Matin Raihan 
Naznin Seamon
Anisur Rahman Apu 
Tushar Prasun 
Shiblee Shaheed

Book Review:
Nicholas Birns  
Caroline Gill 

William Heyen  
Bill Wolak

Cover Art:

Monique Ponsot

New Logo:

Najib Tareque

Shabdaguchha Title: Issue 68

Poetry in English

    Hal Sirowitz

    BAD MUSIC We went to see the new band "The Eye of the Hurricane" perform at a club. The force of their music didn't seem to be aimed at the audience, but at some far off critic with his head buried in the past. It flew by us. There were booing and catcalls from some unsatisfied customers, like "If my watch ticked the way the drummer drummed, I'd throw it away." Though, I've heard much worse—the time you and I tried to make music together with our bodies as instruments. It started out like rock but never reached the rolling part. ONLY THE LONELY She was popular. Her pen pals wrote back. Ours didn't bother to write, making us believe loneliness was an addiction, like alcohol. At least, if you drank too much whiskey you'll start to sway, as though you were on a carnival ride. Whereas with loneliness, you couldn't convert it to something useful, like solitude, as Thoreau did at Walden Pond. It was completely non-transferable. And if you'd ask a woman out, you'd be told she doesn't date anyone of your ilk. Even if you scream from the mountaintops, "Loneliness, let my soul go," it will cling tighter to your personality. Its only attribute is you'll be able to spot the lonely, because they look like you. But what's the use of spotting those you want to avoid. And the problem with their opposites, the Popular, were they were too busy to hang out with you. They had to run home to make sure they had time to write to their pen pals. LONG DISTANCE LOVER We started and ended our relationship by letter. During that period the postal carrier was the most important person in my life. She could tell how I was feeling by that day's delivery. I'm sure she read the postcards my long distance lover sent me, and took my side. She must have figured out what happened when she saw me in front of my mailbox, hoping. She was extra friendly, letting me look through her truck in case she accidentally misplaced my ex-lover's letter. But no such luck. She was impeccable. I should have been friendlier, even though she was at least forty years older than me. But if you can trust someone to deliver your mail, you should be able to trust her with a relationship. Pennsylvania

    Stanley H. Barkan

    MY WIFE SAYS after Hal Sirowitz I Don’t try to pass that car, my wife says. If you do, we’ll get hit on my side, and I’ll get killed, but you’ll survive. Then you’ll be all alone, and, after a while, you’ll be so lonely you won’t want to live anymore. Then you’ll call Dr. Kevorkian who’ll help you to commit suicide and probably be put on trial because there’s a law against it in New York. Then nobody else who needs to end his suffering will be able to do it, all because you didn’t listen to me. II Don’t do the Atkins diet, my wife says. All the meat you’ll eat is full of fat, and you know you can’t do without bread & pasta. What’ll you do when we go to Sicily and they cook pasta trapanese for you? Are you going to refuse and insult them? What about all that garlic bread you love so much? And how are you going to refuse frijoles with the chili you taught me how to make? And how are you going to eat chow mein and chop suey without fried rice? Your veins will just fill up with fat and cholesterol and you’ll get a heart attack and die young. Then I’ll inherit everything and eat pasta and chili and chow mein with garlic bread and filjoles and rice to my heart’s content, and live to a ripe old age. ANTIQUE SHOW Still, gray-tinged clouds covering the aquamarine sky over the antique show in Stormville, New York. Ancient books bound with marbleized endpapers, gold-stamped cloths, glimmering out of the past. Poets buried in the pages still speaking in tongues made for the eyes & ears of seekers of truth & beauty, all we need to know while we journey above ground, passing through the rows & rows of tents spilling out daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, stereograms— portraits of families forever encased in paper, thermoplastic (so-called guttapercha), mother-of-pearl, and glass, waiting for the curious to hold in the hand, to look into the fading faces, posed moments locked in time. We are time travelers moving backwards into the layers of moments fashioned here as valued detritus of bygone days . . . conscious of the realization when we, too, will be laid out upon a table for someone to look into our frame, open our book covers, and see & read our words, before the clouds turn black, open up, and spill down all that waiting rain. New York

    Kelven Ka-shing LIT

    I MISS THE OLD OLD LANTERN I miss the old old lantern. When I was young and innocent, It was you who brought me downstairs; Carrying this little old old lantern, On the day when the moon was full. I was afraid, Afraid that the lantern would be burnt, Afraid that the candle would be hot, Afraid that you would leave. Your caring hands, However just comforted me, In that frightening moment, You just held me, Across the festive path downstairs, Carrying the old old lantern. It was my happiest time, When warmness is no longer in scarcity When family is no longer in dream. Today, I am still afraid, The lantern would be burnt, The candle would be hot, And you would have left. You really left. The day when the moon was full could no longer be the same, I cried, But please don't worry, One day, Under the full moon; I will hold your hands again, To show you what I have done, To honor what you have dedicated to me. We will play the lantern together again, one day. I miss the old old lantern. I miss you. TELL ME THAT I AM JUST DREAMING Tell me that I am just dreaming. It was our last night. When we had hotpot in Sha Kok Estate. I, playfully, put sauced Chicken Wings into the pot, The soup then became red in color. You argued with me, Saying that sauced Chicken Wings shall never be put inside. You said that I will be heavily criticized if I am having this with others. And you kept silent. After 5 minutes, we talked again, we laughed again, we smiled again. This is our last night, An ordinary night, That we have been coming through for so many times; That I am eager to have it, for one more time. Tell me that you are just playing. We were in a department store, Window-shopping around. You told me, a modern flat shall look like this and that; Or otherwise my future wife will be disappointed due to my bad taste. I argued with you—I am just a beginner. Telling you that I need to learn, and please keep teaching me. And you kept silent. After 5 minutes, I realized my mistake, I apologized, and you kept on sharing with me again. This is our last walk, An ordinary walk, That we have been going through for so many times; That I am eager to have it, for only one more time. Tell me that I am just dreaming. I stared at the screen, Asking you how to write a good message. I drafted, and you said, “You are so silly how come you do things in this way.” You revised, screen kept showing “Amy Chan is now typing.” I then read. After 5 minutes, I was touched, and you, like my late grandma, Reminded me for not committing this kind of mistake anymore, As you cannot be here with me for the rest of my life. This is our last Whatsapp. An ordinary Whatsapp message, That we have been going through for so many times; That I am eager to have it, for just one more time. Tell me that you are just playing. After the death of my grandma, You replace her roles, Teaching me how to take care of myself and my family. You replace her roles, Teaching me how to cook well for my future wife. You replace her roles, Caring me in every aspect for my future. You replace her roles, Accompanying me, walking around the city, Driving along different highways, Enjoying some of my happiest moments so far in my life. I am Nobita, and you are my Doraemon. Without you, I can never be recovered from the death of my grandma. Without you, I can never realize my problems. Without you, I can never know so many things. And, Without you, Kelven, who was buried with his late grandma, Can never be reborn. This time, I still hope for a reborn. But the reality keeps telling me that, This time, A reborn is impossible. This is the first time that I hate reality so much. Sadly I need to say, Don't worry, I shall live well, I shall be independent. I shall follow your advice, I shall be serious and constant towards relationship, I shall never forget what you have taught me. No longer I shall be a playful guy, As I am now a Mature Man. You are always my good sister, Even though we are far apart now. But still, Can you please tell me, I am just dreaming. You are just playing Only. I cannot pretend as usual, As usual. Hong Kong

    Peter Thabit Jones

    SOLILOQUY OF A LEADER My limousine moves like a long black shark Through the dust and poverty of the towns, It cuts through the frantic and happy crowds That clap like children at a carnival. I am their God on Earth. The suit I wear Is worth more than their miserable lives. My chauffeur opens the window an inch, Till I’m overwhelmed by the growing stench That’s like a whiff of tomorrow’s despair. They jostle like trees in a whipped-up wind. Their shouts of joy begin to annoy me, I long for the shade of my palace room, Where my American-made fan blades the heat, Where I rule them with thoughts of my father’s ghost. My bodyguards surround my moving car, For too much freedom can foster hatred. But I am tuned in to their whispering, Their tongues stall when they recall my shadow That falls like the night all over the land And my billboard face barbed-wires their plans. Now I am bored, my gloved hands are restless, I could redden all these towns with their blood. FATHER You sailed into her life and out of mine. And who can blame you? Your sea of words broke on their harbour of frost. A strange shadow lost in their whispering town. Your smiles dropped from the dark cliff of your face, the long odyssey of your youth ended in their house. A child’s cry splintered down a winter of years. A secret ship took you to the summer of your life, a fiction of postcards that came back to the boy. ELEGY FOR A GHOST OF A DAY I am like a man Who has come out of the fog Out of the wasted years Left smoking. On a path Above the Pacific, The landscape fanfares A meaning for my life, As my mindscape Diminishes my false mists Of dreaming, I am a man walking On a hard route of facts, As the future And the past Fall away into dust. The poems, the books, The image in the news, The dark muse calling, And the voice on the stage Now disappear Like a bay in the fog, Until I am just me, A man who is alone, With truths newly unveiled, No longer enslaved In a cloud of my making, As the sea makes its noise For a ghost of a day, And a humming bird hovers On a moment of faith. Welsh

    Mike Graves

    NO OTHER I come to this place, With neither woman nor child a narrow ravine shadowed by Eden, abandoned and barren unable to glimpse even a gleam of the sword of the angel who stood as its guard to answer your question: I grow older and there is no other. WAIT In this place I haunt where came and went her willing self In a dance that seemed protected from the end it met— the shock of unexpected meeting, the turning of her head to seek my eyes, the running by with backward looks, the standing still outside the door awaiting my approach, approach I failed to make this place where the bright, circling moon looks upon her face that looked at me as now she hurries past this place I haunt to glimpse her face, although the dance is done. New York

    Bishnupada Ray

    SHADOW ON THE DOOR a shadow falls on the door a tired pair of eyes thinks it may knock but it never knocks how many shadows are there in the world? shadows that fall on the door but do not knock long distance buses come stop and then go away a tired pair of eyes waits and counts them all how long is it before someone will get down and say “hello?” someone who had left home but did not return a wry smile contorts the eyes on the verge of tears for this hope and betrayal how much love is left in the world we live? love that makes us endure and wait for ever. PASSING PHASE this golden crop shining in the golden sun makes me feel that something is coming to an end, a phase, vanishing before my eye and something yet to come, a transition but I have no name for it, except a different climate zone, demanding from me a rigor about life, some hard talk, a toughness that may damn my past but will rescue my future, from a morass of stupidity. ALCHEMY the ingredients are all rare nothing is of nature’s original variety but meddled with and pried upon by science and human knowledge but there is a youthful spring and a natural rock formation in the shape of ancient deities inside the red zone of a forest only on the annual worshipping day an access is opened up for people to visit the inaccessible spring deities and a nightlong occult festivity faith has various names for alchemy a young girl’s unalloyed love a wife’s faith or a child’s trust can do more wonder than any god. Kolkata

    Dhanonjoy Saha

    I SAW THE MAN Once I was a man I never knew In the midst of romping chaos, I saw praying men sitting on the floor Lips sealed, eyes closed, body still, breathing slowly I walked down the quiet aisle, passed the pedestal and the closed door I felt the still vibration, mystic candor, the sweet smell of redemption I passed the empty mind, solitude, earthly wealth and bodily temptation I burned in silence, cold, purified with divine dew I saw the man I never knew. I discovered the deadly force of living, lively comport of dying The dignity of the scarifying dead The perception of the empty head The meaning of the sky, the river, the mountain, the springing grass And humble bees on fluttering flowers in the flustering wind The vast seas, the shooting stars, the burning sun The soothing moon and the mighty monsoon. Did not vex me or greet me with feat the power of ignorance, The pyrrhic politics and the lyrics of Wall Street The pernicious power of bodily beauty did not cross my mind I could leave, for a moment, without trying everything behind I flew in the sky, I walked on the moon, I reached the stars I played with the frolicking angels with heavenly hew For a moment, at least once, I saw the man I never knew Or was it a dream come true? North Carolina

    Hassanal Abdullah

    CALAMITY There is no escape from it, I told myself. There is no escape from juicy apples and ripe bananas. There is no escape from sunlight and darkness, laughter and sorrow, making and remaking a single bit of dreamy image that floats in the air of my deserted island of gorgeous sand dunes, my everlasting headache. There is no escape from poetry. MOMENTS I still remember holding hands as we passed the city of dust and found an old restaurant where walls were covered with loose plaster of white paste and people were talking in high-pitched voices in half-dark tables, like the stories in the Arabian Nights, as if they were obscene characters of Biblical beauty and as erasable as the morning dew of some unknown valley where people are the only commodity to be found only once in a thousand years. A city of dust and rickshaw, pedestrians and panhandlers, car horns and cobble stones, recalling the crackdown on the night of March 25, 1971, by a brutal army that killed several thousand, and the blood rushed through the streets, corners of houses, student dorms, staircases of the apartment buildings, and the overwhelming ghostly screams were coming out of everywhere in fear of mortar shells. Though we had not had that brutal history in our minds at the time we entered the quick entrance that led us to the second floor, we were in the state of a newly wed couple, but our lost ones still did not abandon us. Sitting across the table, I could see my face imprinted in your eyes, exactly like the moon, as I later experienced, seen under the calm and clear Hudson at midnight. I remember, looking at each other’s face, we passed eternity, and hoped the waiter would take as much time as possible. OUR ENGAGEMENT Sitting together under the new moon, we were mostly engaged in speaking about the Magnetic Field from which nothing managed to escape even for a single moment. We were happy circling around our own magnificent orbits. While passing over Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the islands spread about the globe and defusing darkness over our beloved universe and making us worry too much, we managed to confuse them spraying stink bombs and sometimes calming them with a descending dust cloud of humility. The moon was shining without having any light whatsoever of its own, and so did we. We were talking about the prevention of illegal drugs, high teenage pregnancies, political corruptions, cyber crimes, gang rapes, and child labor, gathered in a little group of our own. Our vicarious voices often deplored the hissing sound of a snake that deliberately diluted the hope of others to get ahead. We, in fact, lived a life of selfishness, cowardice, and foolishness. New York

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Shabdaguchha, an International Bilingual Poetry Journal, edited by Hassanal Abdullah