Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Poems by Bibhu Padhi

Sep 24, 2021 | Poetry | 0 comments

Matters Of The Heart

What has happened to you,
primeval lover, so that nothing—
no words of consolation

or advice—can keep you
quiet and steady, at your old,
appointed place?

As if you were delaying
an old illness that refuses
to respond to every kind

of earthly remedy, every effort
toward what now is already
a much-wished for

cure? What magical,
angelic touch can heal
your hurt? Ancient lover,

what mode of sacrifice
will work like magic, can
once again bring you near


After A Long Pain

After a long pain, a touch alone stays—
alien, far from all you have known
from books and pictures, scientists’
discoveries, wisdom’s speeches.

The mind finally feels distant, the body
is drawn away from its basic functions, feels
too amply satisfied to remember itself
or other worlds, other bodies.

Body and mind are entwined in compassion
for the heart’s much-dislocated spaces
and years, hopes and tears that could
never be what they were meant to be,

while the passive earth looks on and withdraws
into itself, as if it was thinking of something
gone wrong somewhere in the universe—
something it had never witnessed or understood.

It is late morning, and there are invitations
from faraway places, each to be attended to,
taken notice of, each to be believed
as something where no pain could ever be, no tears.

Every small thing is busy recollecting itself
in the very middle of a whirlpool of disbelief, even as
the same feeling quietly relaxes, recalls each pain and
insult, each piece of advice, each earlier body.


Voices From The Sky

Who keeps reminding me,
“This is not the place for you”?
Who says, “You should look
elsewhere for what you wish,
what you so badly need?”

Yes, I know I’ve been here
for a long while, in the flames
of controversies and hushed talk,
burning all the time; I’ve been
feeling weary and weak.

The days and nights move
around me like pictures on a screen—
moments of a passionate reciprocity
between the heart and the mind,
body and body, thrown open
to the violence of time.

Who says, “This place
doesn’t believe in love and peace”?
Who says, “Leave, else you’ll suffer
the burden of unopened hearts,
the storm of evil minds,
the language of faithlessness?”

I confess I haven’t yet learnt to be
happy with myself, have forgotten
to behave the usual ways. And all that was
given to me during an earlier century
as gifts, have been lost on the way
to this place, lost utterly. But I
know too that I needed to be here
to break my ancient promises
to a world that never cared for

what I was ready to give. Now,
I am alone, all alone with myself
and a loss that I must carry forward
to a place without love or faith—
a place that would have lost
the memory of things.


Missing History

By the time you know, everything
is hidden in time’s wandering eye.
Places and persons unvisited for lack of time,

now borrowed from a lost mouth
for the first time. The waiting is all there is,
to be measured by an inappropriate loss—

a question to time. Suffering and loss
place you in small possession of things
long forgotten and now remembered.

An evening’s conversation offering
a missing link—a tremor on the lips, a story
untold for lack of a listener.

And then, all at once everything falls
into place—a recognition of a lost word
or face, a return to the calendar years,

and a feeling of trust in this moment’s
announcement, its truth of things, emerging
now at a blurred distance of insanity.



Bibhu Padhi lives in Bhubaneswar, Orisa, India. A Pushcart nominee, published fourteen books of poetry. His poems have appeared in distinguished magazines throughout the English-speaking world, such as Contemporary Review, London Magazine, The Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, The Rialto, Stand, America Media, The American Scholar, Commonweal, The Manhattan Review, The New Criterion, Poet Lore, Poetry, Southwest Review, TriQuarterly, New Contrast, The Antigonish Review, Dalhousie Review, and Queen’s Quarterly.
They have been included in numerous anthologies and textbooks. Five of the most recent are The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets, Language for a New Century (Norton) Journeys (HarperCollins), 60 Indian Poets (Penguin) and The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry.


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