from About Living by Nazım Hikmet: No. 1

Leonard Durso

Living is not a joking matter:
you have to live with great seriousness
. . . . . . . .like a squirrel, for instance,
that is to say, without expecting anything outside or beyond living,
. . .which means, you must devote yourself fully to living.

You have to take living seriously,
in such a way, to such an extent
that, for instance, your hands tied behind you, your back to the wall,
or wearing think spectacles and a white robe,
in a laboratory,
you must be willing to die for other people,
even those whose faces you have never seen,
although nobody has forced you to do this
and although you know that living
. . .is the most beautiful and the most genuine thing.

That is to say, you have to take living so seriously
that, for instance, even at age seventy, you will plant olive trees

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Friday night, Istanbul

there’s an Irish band
possibly The Waterboys
on the sound system
at a bar
named after
a city in Ireland
though no smiling
Irish eyes
at the tables
around me
this being Turkey
no Irish whiskey
in bottles
here
though I am
pacified
which is more
than I should
expect
but pleased
to accept
so very far
yet quite near
home

Because by Nazım Hikmet

Leonard Durso

They’ll go to the moon
. . . . . . .and beyond,
to places even telescopes can’t see.
But when will no one go hungry
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .on earth
. . . . . . .or fear others
. . . . . . .or push them around,
. . . . . . .shun them
. . . . . . .or steal their hope?
Because I responded to this question
. . . . . . . . . .I’m called a Communist.

translated by Randy Blasing & Mutlu Konuk

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