that arrow

one more night
on the couch
an empty glass
on the floor
and those wolves
prowling the corners
of the room
and you
gone clear
out of my life
leaving that arrow
stuck in my heart

my brain stopped

you walked
into my dream
in those 3 inch
red high heels
flashing that smile
that stunned
the world
and before I knew it
my brain stopped
and was not
available
upon waking
the rest of the day

Tune: “The Beautiful Lady Yu” by Li Yü

When will the last flower fall, the last moon fade?
So many sorrows lie behind.
Again last night the east wind filled my room—
O gaze not on the lost kingdom under the bright moon.

Still in her light my palace gleams as jade
(Only from bright cheeks beauty dies).
To know the sum of human suffering
Look at this river rolling eastward in the spring.

translated by Cyril Birch

your words

didn’t quite catch
your words
that night
as you woke me
from my slumber
on the couch
the record still turning
on the turntable
the dog looking up
as I struggled
to my feet
my mind a haze
your words lost
like water
slipping through my fingers
like you
fading gradually
into the night
those words
still nagging
my memory
decades later
ten thousand miles
away

to ride the wind: for Lucy

her eyebrows white
like a season of snow
melting in her eyes
when she smiles
her dimples tell
of hearing the wind
come over the mountains
she is so soft
like a cloud
floating on high
oh to drink
her melted snow
as she closes her eyes
and we ride the wind
carrying us far
on her cloud
over the mountains
that ascend so tall
separating us
now

Birds And Clouds by Melih Cevdet Anday

I found it in the cellar of a caravanserai
Under a copper lamp,
An ancient handwritten manuscript of the Isagoge,
Perhaps dating from the Seljuk Empire,
Wine stains on every page.
I don’t know whether it was the author or a reader,
But right at the end, in a secret place,
He added these frightentng words:
The sky is our brain’s membrane,
Birds and clouds wander around in it.

The Law-Court by Oktay Rıfat

For their stony fields and pastures
They are crammed into the law-court
Crumbs of bread and tobacco in their pockets
In their wallets lists of witnesses
Thumbprint signatures proof of transactions
Their women and donkeys
Wait in the market-place
The courtroom is dingy it stinks of dung
But on the judge’s robe
The ribbons shine with propriety

translated by Ruth Christie & Richard McKane