Translated from the Albanian by Miranda Shehu-Xhilaga
My country is a narrative
ancient as the world,
it’s a slope that descends in sweeps,
like broken eagle wings.
It’s a river of tears
emptying into a sea of bitterness,
it’s a bitter and tenebrous spring.
My country is the sigh that pierces the skies.
It’s a barren land, uncropped,
a hemorrhaged soul sobering
under a candle light.
It’s a lonely olive branch that shakes its wind-gaunt fingers
over graves with nameless stones.
My country is an abandoned village
with dried-up wells and locked doors.
My country is an unfinished poem.
It’s that guest-less hostel on the empty mountain road
that takes you nowhere,
it’s a shriveled vineyard, a flattened forest
and a waste of land razed bare.
It’s an immigrant who keeps his mother’s note
with words of promise in his overcoat,
it’s a laggard’s return under a too-bright sun.
Alas, my country has become a market rout
by those whose love of power has them wrapped in her,
sleeping and waking.
It’s an orgy of purulent politicians
who know too well how to promise paradise.
But my country is… yet a playground
of children who skip on along paths of hope,
It’s a sunny reverie,
like a shadow in the steps of a girl with bouncing breasts.
It’s the sweet kiss of the one I caress
and the wedding that follows in the fall.
My country is, and will ever after be
this fairy tale enthralling, binding me.
Elegy for Aegean Sea Dolls
For dolls, an elegy has never been written,
an elegy mourning their dreams,
but today on the Aegean coast,
an elegy alone too little seems to be,
for their faint eyes in the great calamity
burned and thrown by thunderstorms and lightning.
For the silent mouths of children left at sea
fleeing the war and the horror of the world,
there is nothing but their small shoes left,
the scarves of the lost mothers who knows where
and these nameless dolls without hands and feet,
without their adorned shirts
and eyes that no longer can speak of anything
from their hell-journey ,
dolls washed out on the Aegean coast …
For dolls, elegies have never been written says the foamy wave,
never, repeats the wind that hits the rocks,
the wind that weeps with its Homeric tears.
This is the elegy of shoes that will not walk tomorrow,
the elegy of children who can no longer dream,
the elegy of their extinguished eyes in the world of bullet-like wonders
in the Sea of the Dead Humanism…
Poets Die Like Birds
Arben Shehi went to blow out his candle the night before…
Poets fall like sparrows,
struck by lightning,
closer to the storm and the sun.
Poets are the wounded heart of gamebirds:
that’s why they are the first to plummet
towards an endless death
in a life that does not dwindle.
Poets take the first blow
as they have embodied the fires and the heavenly voices
and so by Olympus are condemned.
They die before their time
From the life-long labour
of sowing love throughout their days.
From a lover’s loss and yearning tears
They stop hearts and break one’s breath
when in their death, they drop.
The poet’s searing gaze is brimmed with tears…