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Manoa 13.2 (2001) 84-86

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Two Poems


Your Coming Years

As in past years
Some of you will die
Hurtling off precipices
The expensive hospital of the world will cry out
At the deaths of some
And from many eyes will rush a vast stream
Mingling with cries that reach all the way home
As in past years
Caught in a barrage of bomb blasts
Some of you will die
Wearing garlands of death
Some of you will die
As you march in processions
Although some of you will be publicly mourned
Those of you whose clothes are torn
Whose tongues quake in fear
Whose sky is soiled
Whose feathers have lost their price
Yes, you, your corpses will be given up
To swarms of winged ants
Some will be appointed
Some will be dismissed
Things common to many
Will vanish on empty plates
With the time bomb of fuel shortages
As in past years
Overcome with grief at the deaths of some
Newspaper columns will overflow with condolences
And at the deaths of many
Crowds will shove through alleyways [End Page 84]
Wiping away tears as they walk
While for many of you, let's accept it, your deaths
Will cause no irreparable harm
In the coming years
As in past years
Sitting among the grief stricken
One kind of person
Will once again speak of profit
As in past years
Performing peace rituals beneath red awnings
Some ascetics will place offerings
Some will benefit
Some will receive sons, some will receive wives
And some will receive wealth
Even while many lose all they own
And one day people will rush
To retrieve everything
Those whose schools have no rooms
The vast book of the nation is with you
Ask your fathers for the loan of a pen
And write:
Sometimes night sets in
And sometimes night passes away

Last Night

Soldiers decked out in authority
Were marching through our courtyard
We couldn't sleep last night
Acclaimed poet of this country!
Perhaps you haven't awakened yet from your stupor
In your poems we expected something
Sought something understood nothing
We couldn't even close our eyes last night
At an hour of desperate suffering
We lit dry twigs at the windows
Perhaps you had a party to attend?
Acclaimed poet!
Perhaps you had a secret engagement
Silent night
And the thick shoes of soldiers [End Page 85]
This is what we thought all night as the weapons went mad
The still courtyard where these children now crawl
And the black shoes of brutal soldiers
We walked away from the burden of our fears and the future
Last night we couldn't sleep at all
During that long nighttime
Perhaps you had an old friend to catch up with?
Or were you taking cover in some corner?
What was ringing in our sky at night?
What was the color of the sky last night?
Perhaps you were seeking immortality
Placing your words in a hangman's noose?
There was a parade of black cats in the kitchen
And in the bedroom apparitions
The top floor of the house was like a stadium
Last night
There was a parade of ghouls in the libraries
And your poems in the wind
Perhaps you had some business to tend to?
To spend nights beneath black coverings
How frightening! How frightening!
The night is deepening now, too
This is what we're thinking
The terrain that a mother's hand touches
Is being erased in the silent night
Is turning invisible
Uneasily today, too
We light dry twigs at the windows
Again, poet! Again, the same condition
Oh! Silent night
And the hard shoes of soldiers

Translations by Manjushree Thapa

Shyamal is the pen name of the poet Harihar Adhikari. Born in 1957, he has published a poetry collection, Tapainharu Marphat, and is considered a leading poet of social commentary in Nepal. He works as a communications specialist for UN Development Programme in Nepalgunj, in west Nepal.



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