I love sleep by Ouyang Yu

I love sleep knowing it is politically incorrect and culturally inappropriate
To say this but I love sleep not caring whether someone is going to bomb
The rialto tower or the Sydney opera house I love sleep at 46
For I don’t remember anything about myself or what I do I love
Sleep lingering in my bed with a bit of dream here and there but nothing substantial
To merit a mention I love sleep years ago in Wuhan while I was working
As a lorry driver in a shipping yard I had a roommate who loved sleep
The only two things he did was go to work in the factory lifting things and come
Back to sleep in our three-bed room “I love sleep” he said one night as we stood
On the bridge across a nameless creek that ran into the Yangtze River
“for I dream of things, beautiful things that you never will see anywhere in the world”
I began to know that he was an orphan that he had nowhere to go on weekends
Things like that and I felt sad kind of for him and for myself I love sleep
And when I do so I know I am wasting my life knowing that I am wasting my life
Anyway even if I do not sleep I cherish the time immediately after I wake up
For I hear the birds calling out to each other among themselves I do not hear them in
sleep I become wordy soon I’ll stop I love sleep I dream a little although I don’t recall
anything this morning I went to a friend’s house to interview him he had a beautiful
house that cost him nearly one million dollars off record he talked about his plan
For afterwards he said he would love to lead a xianyun yehe life
I shared his view although I know ours would be different
For that kind of life of leisurely clouds and wild cranes
I love sleep correct me if I am wrong for in sleep I am equal to anyone
Without a fight


Divorce by Gayatri Majumdar

A quarter of the seven-year-old
bottle of Jean Nate Friction
pour le Bain After Bath Splash,
an old Chinese king in lac,
a fat Ganesh in pastel pink
and steel utensils.

Sony Walkman, one
of the two crystal flower vases,
all of the photographs, and the brass.
Crockery made in Indonesia,
amber in colour, Webster’s New
Collegiate Dictionary
, not one but two,
the blue and green of the Japanese painting.

Ceiling fans manufactured by 24 Carats,
Netlons, and two wooden cabinets
for soap and lipstick.
Garam masala, bought cheap in America;
a red Banarasi sari.
a Godrej manual typewriter – all articles,
mostly nouns, some prepositions,
not one metaphor,
no verbs either.

A Child’s Guide to Power by Burl Whitman

Remember the bully
who knocked you down,

took your lunch and howled
and bayed like a hound?

Other kids didn’t know how to react–
most just wanted their own lunch intact.

Now imagine the bully
with a magic wand

and more money than God
or at least beyond

what most people see
in a life and a half,

a pile so tall
it would dwarf a giraffe.

The bully now has power
–or believes that he does–

and that is often enough
to rule others because

the money makes some people
dance to his tune,

though he’s still just a bully
and a gold-plated buffoon.

The wand isn’t real
or at least not so you can see.

It’s power given to him
by you and by me.

Take it away and he’s just
a schoolyard thug,

a big angry tyrant
In need of a hug.

Some people still dance for him–
they haven’t figured him out.

But you dear are smarter,
so stand back and shout,

“He’s a bully and a fraud,
just a rich lonely beggar.

He’s a punk without
his immeasurable treasure.”

If others don’t listen,
well they’ll get it in time.

Meanwhile, go live your life!
You’re a huge part of mine

All you who sleep tonight by Vikram Seth

All you who sleep tonight
Far from the ones you love,
No hands to left or right,
And emptiness above –
Know that you aren’t alone.
The whole world shares your tears,
Some for two nights or one,
And some for all their years.

“What Do Women Want?” by Kim Addonizio

I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what’s underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty’s and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I’m the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I’ll pull that garment
from its hanger like I’m choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,
it’ll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.

How the stone found its voice by Moniza Alvi

We had waited through so many lifetimes
for the stone to speak, wondered if

it would make compelling pronouncements,
anything worth writing down.

Then after the war of wars
had ground to a shattering halt, the stone

emitted a small grinding sound rather like
the clearing of a throat.

Let us be indifferent to indifference,
the stone said.

And then the world spoke.

Before you came (Original: “tum jo naa aa’e the”) by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Note: The following translation into English is by Naomi Lazard.

Before You Came by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Before you came things were just what they were:

the road precisely a road, the horizon fixed,

the limit of what could be seen,

a glass of wine was no more than a glass of wine.

With you the world took on the spectrum

radiating from my heart: your eyes gold

as they open to me, slate the color

that falls each time I lost all hope.

With your advent roses burst into flame:

you were the artist of dried-up leaves, sorceress

who flicked her wrist to change dust into soot.

You lacquered the night black.

As for the sky, the road, the cup of wine:

one was my tear-drenched shirt,

the other an aching nerve,

the third a mirror that never reflected the same thing.

Now you are here again—stay with me.

This time things will fall into place;

the road can be the road,

the sky nothing but sky;

the glass of wine, as it should be, the glass of wine.


Note: The following translation into English is by Agha Shahid Ali.

Before You Came by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Before you came,

things were as they should be:

the sky was the dead-end of sight,

the road was just a road, wine merely wine.

Now everything is like my heart,

a color at the edge of blood:

the grey of your absence, the color of poison, or thorns,

the gold when we meet, the season ablaze,

the yellow of autumn, the red of flowers, of flames,

and the black when you cover the earth

with the coal of dead fires.

And the sky, the road, the glass of wine?

The sky is a shirt wet with tears,

the road a vein about to break,

and the glass of wine a mirror in which

the sky, the road, the world keep changing.

Don’t leave now that you’re here—

Stay. So the world may become like itself again:

so the sky may be the sky,

the road a road,

and the glass of wine not a mirror, just a glass of wine.


Note: The following translation into English is by Ravi Kopra.

It’s the Color of My Heart by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

When you didn’t come,

things were they should be –

the sky was as far as I could see,

the road to travel by was a road,

the goblet was a glassful of wine.

And now, a glassful of wine,

the road to travel by,

and the color of the sky,

are like the colors of my blood,

flowing from my heart to my liver.

Sometimes golden, like the

shine of your eyes when we meet.

Sometimes grey and saddening like

the sickening feelings of partings.

Other times like colors of old

leaves, of trash, of dry grass,

of red flowers in flower-beds,

of dark sky, of poison, of blood.

Now I see the sky, the road,

the glass full of wine, my wet

robe, my aching nerves in a mirror,

changing moment by moment.

Since you’ve come, please stay.

May the things – the colors, the seasons,

stay as if they were in one place.

May everything be as it used to be –

The sky, as far as I could see,

the road to travel by, a road,

the goblet, brimming with wine.


Note: The following translation into English is by Victor Kiernan.

Before You Came by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Before you came, all things were what they are—

The sky sight’s boundary, the road a road,

The glass of wine a glass of wine; since then,

Road, wineglass, colour of heaven, all have taken

The hues of this heart ready to melt into blood—

Now golden, as the solace of meeting is,

Now grey, the livery of despondent hours,

Or tint of yellowed leaves, of garden trash,

Or scarlet petal, a flowerbed all ablaze:

Colour of poison, colour of blood, or shade

Of sable night. Sky, highroad, glass of wine—

The first a tear-stained robe, the next a nerve

Aching, the last a mirror momently altering….

Now you have come, stay here, and let some colour,

Some month, some anything, keep its own place,

And all things once again be their own selves,

The sky sight’s bound, the road a road, wine wine.


Note: The following translation into English is by Shiv K. Kumar.

The Colour of the Moment by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Before you came, everything was what it is—

the sky, vision-bound

the pathway, the wine-glass.

And now the wine-glass, the pathway, the sky’s tint—

everything bears the colour of my heart

till all melts into blood.

Sometimes the golden tinge, sometimes the hue of the joy of

seeing you,

sometimes ashen, the shade of the dreary moment—

the colour of yellow leaves, of thorn and trash,

of the crimson petals of the flower-beds aglow,

the tint of poison, of blood, of sable night.

The sky, the pathway, the wine-glass—

some tear-stained robe, some wincing nerve,

some ever-revolving mirror.

Now that you’re here, stay onso that so

me colour, some season, some object.


Note: The following translation into English is by Frances W. Pritchett.

It’s the Color of My Heart by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Before you came everything

was what it is:

the sky the limit of sight

the road a road, the glass of wine

a glass of wine.

And now the glass of wine, the road, the color of the sky

are the color of my heart

while it breaks itself down

into blood.

Sometimes a gold color—a color of eyes’ delight

that sooty color, the color of disgus

tthe color of dry leaves, straw, thorns

the color of red flowers in a blazing garden

poison color, blood color, the color of black night.

The sky, the road, the glass of wine

are a sodden cloak, an aching vein,

a mirror changing every moment.

Now that you’ve come, stay—let some color, season, thing

stay in place.

One more time let everything

be what it is:

the sky the limit of sight

the road a road, the glass of wine

a glass of wine.


Note: Here is the original poem in Urdu transliterated into English script. If you have the original in Arabic script, or even Devanagiri script, please comment.

tum jo naa aa’e the to har chiiz vahii thii kih jo hai
aasmaaN hadd-e-nazar, raahguzar raahguzar, shiishaah-e-mai,

aur ab shiishaah-e-mai, raahguzar, rang-e-falak
rang hai dil kaa mere, “khoon-e-jigar hone tak”
champaa’i rang kabhii, raahat-e-diidaar kaa rang
sur’ma’ii rang kabhii, saa’at-e-bezaar kaa rang

zard pattoN kaa xas-o-xaar kaa rang
surkh phuuloN kaa, dahakte hu’e gulzaar kaa rang
zahar kaa rang, lahuu rang. shab-e-taar kaa rang

aasmaaN, rahguzar, shiishaah-e-mai
koii bhiigaa hu’aa daaman, ko’ii dukhtii hu’ii rag
ko’ii har lahzaah badaltaa hu’aa aa’iinaah hai

ab jo aa’e ho to Thahro kih koii rang, koii rut ko’ii shai
ek jagah par Thahre
phir se ik baar har ik chiiz vahii ho ke jo hai
aasmaaN hadd-e-nazar, rahguzar rahguzar, shiishaah-e-mai,

Prayer by Belleruth Naparstek

Just give me this:
A rinsing out, a cleansing free
Of all my smaller strivings
So I can be the class act God intended,
True to my purpose,
All my energy aligned behind my deepest intention.

And just this:
A quieting down,
A clearing away of internal ruckus,
So I can hear the huge stillness in my heart,
And feel
How I pulse with all creation,
Part and parcel of Your great singing ocean.

And this too:
A willingness to notice and forgive
The myriad times I fall short,
Forgetting who I really am,
What I really belong to.

So I can start over,
Fresh and clean,
Like sweet sheets billowing in the summer sun,
My heart pierced with gratitude.

My apologies, Sona by Gulzar

My apologies, Sona.
Journeying through the terrain of my verse
in these rains,
inconvenienced you
Unseasonal are the monsoons here.
The alleyways of my poetry are frequently damp.
Water gathers often in the ditches.
If you trip and fall here, you run the risk
of spraining a foot.

My apologies, however . . .
You were inconvenienced
because the light in my verse is somewhat dim.
The stones at my threshold
are imperceptible, as you pass.
I have often cracked a toenail against them
As for the streetlamp at the crossroads,
it has remained unlit for aeons
You were inconvenienced.
My apologies, my heartfelt apologies.

Note: Salim Arif is the translator of this poem into English. Following is the original in Urdu.

My apologies, Sona in Urdu

Sunny came home by Shawn Colvin and John Leventhal

Sunny came home to her favorite room
Sunny sat down in the kitchen
She opened a book and a box of tools
Sunny came home with a missionShe says “Days go by, I’m hypnotized
I’m walking on a wire
I close my eyes and fly out of my mind
Into the fire”

Sunny came home with a list of names
She didn’t believe in transcendence
And it’s time for a few small repairs, she said
Sunny came home with a vengeance

She says “Days go by, I don’t know why
I’m walking on a wire
I close my eyes and fly out of my mind
Into the fire”

Get the kids and bring a sweater
Dry is good and wind is better
Count the years, you always knew it
Strike a match, go on and do it

Oh, days go by, I’m hypnotized
I’m walking on a wire
I close my eyes and fly out of my mind
Into the fire

Oh, light the sky and hold on tight
The world is burning down
She’s out there on her own, and she’s all right
Sunny came home

Sunny came home
Came home

Your terrorist by Ali Alizadeh

You call me a barbarian.
I call you master.

You don’t speak my language.
My words

noise in your ears; my poems
meaningless melodies.

Your poems
masterpieces of literature.

Your clothes
constitute fashion; your homes

My house

the hovel your tanks levelled;
my clothes

rags. My beliefs
crushed by your technology

because I’m a barbarian.
But I must understand

your language. O master, your words
are essential to my survival. I have to

put your goggles on my eyes
to see myself,

a dangerous alien with
incomprehensible language

and innate savagery
because you’re so civilised and meaningful.

You have the weapons
the tools for proving the logic

of your power. You wear clothes
that bolster your shoulders

and accentuate your height.
Me, I’m naked

and paraded as a prisoner
on your catwalks. I’ve been

defeated, dispossessed, and now
detained in the cages

of your metropolis. I can’t remember
if I ever had my own culture

because your powerful voice
has deafened my memories. Your logic

proves I’m a primitive
at the mercy of your civilisation.

Yes, I understand
your language. I’ve been learning

the lexicon of my inferiority
from behind the bars. I now know

how to spell and pronounce
the terms of my slavery. Your shackles

are called Security; your war
Operation Freedom; your cluster bombs

food parcels for my children. O master,
I understand

what you want your filthy slave to be. I am
your barbarian, your terrorist;

your monster.

Lust by Yusef Komunyakaa

If only he could touch her,
Her name like an old wish
In the stopped weather of salt
On a snail. He longs to be

Words, juicy as passionfruit
On her tongue. He’d do anything,
Would dance three days & nights
To make the most terrible gods

Rise out of ashes of the yew,
To step from the naked
Fray, to be as tender
As meat imagined off

The bluegill’s pearlish
Bones. He longs to be
An orange, to feel fingernails
Run a seam through him.

Untitled by Unknown

beautiful things happen

in the dark

when the sun goes

to sleep

when the stars give

light kisses

when the moon

is a spotlight

life stays beautiful

even when you

are covered

in darkness


Note: Please comment if you know the title and/or poet of this poem.

Naham Janami by Unknown

There are no celestial beings I know of, there is no God.
Neither heaven nor hell.
Neither a preserver, nor an owner of this universe.
Neither a creator nor a destroyer.
No eternal judge.
There is only the law of causality.
I take responsibilities for my actions and their consequences.
The smallest of creatures have a life-force just like mine.
May I always have such compassion.
May I never cause any harm to anybody.
The truth is multi-faceted, and there are many ways to reach it.
May I find balance in this duality.
I pray, may my karma of ignorance be shed.
May my true self be liberated from the cycle of life and death.
And attain moksha.

Note: This is originally a verse of now extinct Charvaka traditions and the poet is unknown. But it survives in the Gujarati (language) oral traditions. Translated from Gujarati into Prakrit by either Anand Gandhi or Chandrasen. Then translated into English, possibly by Gandhi himself.  Following is the Prakrit version.

नाहं जाणामि कंपि देवं न दईवं, णत्थि इसरो णियन्ता।
णत्थि सग्गभूमि ण णिरयं।
णो जगकत्ता णो विकत्ताय ण य जगईसरो कोवि।
ण रक्खओ ण भक्खओ।
ण य कालाईओ आदित्ठो दन्दनाईओ।
कम्मुणो चेव दण्डं।
हं सयमेव सट्ठा भोत्ता य मे सुहदुह – पियाप्पिअसंजोगाण।
अप्पसरियो जीवो सव्वाण सुहुमतिसुहुमेसु।
नत्थु कोवि कयापि दुहिओ मया।
सया मे इइ संवेअणा।
सच्चस्स मग्गा बहवे, सच्चो य एगरुबो णवरं।
समया मे मणो दुव्विहअवस्थासु।
मम पत्थणा -निज्जरउ अन्नाणकंमं।
शुद्धसासयरुवो हं इइ अत्थु मे सद्दंसणंअन्ते- ण य भवउ चवियं
मे पयं मोक्खमग्गओ ।

The Woman Mending Clothes By Ai Qing

The woman mending clothes sits by the roadside.
When people pass by
Dust rises up,
Dust coats her kerchief,
Dust greys her clothes.

Her baby begins crying,
The child’s tears are dried by the sun;
She does not notice.
Silently she thinks of her home,
Its shelter destroyed by gunfire.
Silently she mends clothes for people,
And lets her child’s eyes,
Those poor reddened eyes,
Stare at the empty basket.

The woman mending clothes sits by the roadside.
The road stretches away endlessly.
She mends socks for some passerby,
And the passerby goes on.

p.s. If you have the original of this poem in Chinese, please comment.

A homeless Sindhi woman by Popati Hiranandani

In Akbar the Great’s durbar,

Anarkali, Queen of Beauty, reigned.


even she was buried alive.

Delhi, India’s pride, and I,

inheritor of the marvels of Indus architecture.


even I have been buried alive

homeless in history’s graveyard.


Note: This poem was translated into English by Anju Makhija and Menka Shivdasani, with Arjan Shad. Following is the original in Sindhi.




When I die by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī

When I die
when my coffin
is being taken out
you must never think
i am missing this world

don’t shed any tears
don’t lament or
feel sorry
i’m not falling
into a monster’s abyss

when you see
my corpse is being carried
don’t cry for my leaving
i’m not leaving
i’m arriving at eternal love

when you leave me
in the grave
don’t say goodbye
remember a grave is
only a curtain
for the paradise behind

you’ll only see me
descending into a grave
now watch me rise
how can there be an end
when the sun sets or
the moon goes down

it looks like the end
it seems like a sunset
but in reality it is a dawn
when the grave locks you up
that is when your soul is freed

have you ever seen
a seed fallen to earth
not rise with a new life
why should you doubt the rise
of a seed named human

have you ever seen
a bucket lowered into a well
coming back empty
why lament for a soul
when it can come back
like Joseph from the well

when for the last time
you close your mouth
your words and soul
will belong to the world of
no place no time

Note: Translated into English by Nader Khalili. Please comment if you have the original in Persian.

Bohemian Rhapsody by Freddie Mercury

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality.

Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see,
I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy,
Because I’m easy come, easy go,
Little high, little low,
Any way the wind blows doesn’t really matter to me, to me.

Mama, just killed a man,
Put a gun against his head,
Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead.
Mama, life had just begun,
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away.

Mama, ooh,
Didn’t mean to make you cry,
If I’m not back again this time tomorrow,
Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters.

Too late, my time has come,
Sent shivers down my spine,
Body’s aching all the time.
Goodbye, everybody, I’ve got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth.

Mama, ooh (any way the wind blows),
I don’t wanna die,
I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all.

I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?
Thunderbolt and lightning,
Very, very frightening me.
(Galileo) Galileo.
(Galileo) Galileo,
Galileo Figaro

I’m just a poor boy and nobody loves me.
He’s just a poor boy from a poor family,
Spare him his life from this monstrosity.

Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?
Bismillah! No, we will not let you go.
(Let him go!) Bismillah! We will not let you go.
(Let him go!) Bismillah! We will not let you go.
(Let me go) Will not let you go.
(Let me go) Will not let you go.
(Never, never, never let me go) Ah.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
(Oh, mama mia, mama mia) Mama mia, let me go.
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me.

So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye?
So you think you can love me and leave me to die?
Oh, baby, can’t do this to me, baby,
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here.

(Oh, yeah, oh yeah)

Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters to me.

Any way the wind blows.

Is/Not by Margaret Atwood

Love is not a profession
genteel or otherwise

sex is not dentistry
the slick filling of aches and cavities

you are not my doctor
you are not my cure,

nobody has that
power, you are merely a fellow/traveller

Give up this medical concern,
buttoned, attentive,

permit yourself anger
and permit me mine

which needs neither
your approval nor your suprise

which does not need to be made legal
which is not against a disease

but agaist you,
which does not need to be understood

or washed or cauterized,
which needs instead

to be said and said.
Permit me the present tense.