Poetry in Our Time










Hussein Habasch- (Kurdistan)


 The Difference Between You and Me

The difference between you and me

Is that you sit cross-legged,

Leisurely savoring your glass of wine

While I wrap myself around myself

As I gulp from the glass of pain at the hospital.

You post the photo of your ninety something mother on Facebook,

Still in her prime.

And I remember the complexions of my seventy something

Mother with all her wrinkles.

You see her every day and place a peck on her cheeks,

Whereas I have seen her only twice in twenty-two years.

I kiss her photo every day in longing.

God bless our mothers!

You follow all football matches.

You laugh, comment, cheer and support this team against that one

While I follow all the agonies of my people in Afrin.

I weep, despond, curse and grieve for what has befallen them.

Your sister has a splendid house in the city center

Whilst my two sisters are vagrants, homeless and vagabonds,

A family from “Ghouta” occupied the house of one,

And a family from “Qalamun” occupied the house of the other.

You sit with your only brother

And debate how to split your father’s vast legacy

While I worry about the affairs of my brothers, exiled and

Fleeing, scattered around the globe.

I have no means to reunite them and to bring them to safety.

Your country is Germany.

My country is Kurdistan.

Two worlds apart…

Germany is flourishing and growing at each moment and every minute

While Kurdistan is slaughtered and murdered at each moment and every second.

Your country is exporting Leopard tanks to kill what breath

Was left in the lungs of my country!

And my compatriots who miraculously survived the killing machine

Are applying in scores for asylum in your country.

You were born with a golden spoon in your mouth,

And I was born with a poisonous challis in my mouth.

This is only a drop of an ocean of differences between you and me.

I shall not go on unfolding the pain that adjoined me as a twin since birth.

Despite the differences you see between us,

I fully understand why you celebrate life.

I never understand why I despair over it!



Translated by Azad Akkash


My Mother’s Chants

  1. The Vision Chant

This morning, my mother was sitting alone at home

Mending my brother Mahmoud’s pants

Torn by yesterday’s mischief

The needle pierced her finger and warm blood flowed on the thread

The pants were stained and my mother’s thoughts were muddled

She swore to my father and the neighbors

That she saw me or my shadow

Or saw me without my shadow passing before her this morning

And when she saw me,

She was so eager; she was confused and was about to hug me

But the needle betrayed her and pierced her finger

Was I really there or was it my mother’s heart?


  1. The Longing Chant


Thirty years… and I am still running with a barefoot heart

Whenever I see a woman wearing a long dress

Or a white scarf on her head

I call out to her: mother, mother


Thirty years and six thousand miles

Exiled from roses,

The sunrise and the face of angels, mother’s face

Thirty years…

Whenever I write about a woman

Whenever I draw a woman

I find myself writing about my mother

Clothing the image with my mother’s colors

Thirty shrouds, thirty graves, thirty…

I am filled with hope and peace of mind

Whenever I lay my head on my mother’s chest.


  1. The Passion Chant

The inscriptions on the walls of our mud house

The yellow paint on the door

The family picture, carefully hung next to Imam Ali’s

The traces of a tattoo on the baking tin

The big quiet stone next to the door,

Always ready to receive guests

Shelves crowded with old newspapers

The lamp, philosophizing with a long luminous tongue

The hanging mat, always ready for prayer

The sacred laugh that brought all this passion

And this weariness is my mother’s laugh.


Translated by Sinan Anton


A Dialogue

What is happiness, father?

It’s a bird that forgot his feathers

And wings in the desert, son!

What is life, father?

It’s a boiled egg

We are in it, son!

What is human, father?

He is an acrobatic dancer on the edge of the abyss, son!

What is isolation, father?

It’s separating the soul from all the world’s aspects, son!

What is love, father?

They said, it’s a healthy sickness, son!

What is future, father?

It’s a sun that only shines on the lucky ones, son!

What are tears, father?

It’s a rain that missed its way, son!

What is bravery, father?

It’s a ball of fire that rotates inside the heart, son!

What is pain, father?

It’s a shirt we wear from our birth to our death, son!


Translated by Muna Zinati


Hussein Habasch is a poet from Afrin, Kurdistan. He currently lives in Bonn, Germany. His poems have been translated into English, German, Spanish, French, Persian, Uzbek, Albanian, Russian, Romanian, Italian, Serbian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Polish, Slovenian, Lithuanian, Vietnamese, Nepali, Hindi, Malayalam, Bengali, Turkish, Berber (Amazigh), Bosnian, Portuguese, Hungarian, Chinese, Greek, Mandarin (the language of Taiwan) and Tzotzil (the language of the Mayan peoples of Mexico), and has had his poetry published in a large number of international poetry anthologies. His books include: Drowning in Roses, Fugitives across Evros River, Higher than Desire and more Delicious than the Gazelle’s Flank, Delusions to Salim Barakat, A Flying Angel, No pasarán (in Spanish), Copaci Cu Chef (in Romanian), Dos Árboles and Tiempos de Guerra (in Spanish), Fever of Quince (in Kurdish), Peace for Afrin, peace for Kurdistan (in English and Spanish), The Red Snow (in Chinese), Dead arguing in the corridors (in Arabic) Drunken trees (in Kurdish), Boredom of a tired statue (in Kurdish), Flor del Espinillo (in Spanish) A Rose for the Heart of Life, selected Poems (in English) and Olvido (in Spanish). He participated in many international festivals of poetry including: Colombia, Nicaragua, France, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Germany, Romania, Lithuania, Morocco, Ecuador, El Salvador, Kosovo, Macedonia, Costa Rica, Slovenia, China, Taiwan, Cuba, Sweden, New York City, Sarajevo and Greece. Recipient of the Great Kurdish Poet Hamid Bedirkhan Award, awarded by the General Union of Kurdish Writers and Journalists. As well as the International “Bosnian Stećak” award for Poetry, awarded by the Bosnia and Herzegovina Writers Union. Bronze poetry award Aristotle from Naoussa international poetry festival in Greece.





Sleeping Awake

 What survives somewhere here, once forgotten

Is remembered day after day somewhere else

I had planted the shade of the uprooted tree,

The sky’s anguish in my breast,

Drawing a single breath

Shadows wrapped in those embraces,

Trembling at noon

She listens to my heart beating,

Your touch on my palm

What survives somewhere here, once forgotten

Is remembered day after day somewhere else

Translation from Hindi by Lucy Rosenstein and Bernard O’Donoghue



Crossing Over


For my father


 I used to be the past myself,

But I will still

Forget everyone.

Now I hear everything,

Having become the music of the spheres

And I can see far away now,

I am the horizon.

Having gone so far away,

No pace perceived,

I am so close to you,

I share your breath.

A figure formed from dust,

I have become dust.

<Translation from Hindi by Lucy Rosenstein and Bernard O’Donoghue>



 In this cold my very shadow froze.

I had hoped to revive with the coming of spring:

Hoped for light in these dark times

But as I walk, I remain in anguish

And my feet do not dry out with the season

Walking onward I forget that time is passing

Nothing comes to mind;

And then I see it and smile:

‘Making things up is not so difficult

So long as you believe in the truth.’

<Translation from Hindi by Lucy Rosenstein and Bernard O’Donoghue>

Mohan Rana (Hindi: मोहन राणा; born 9 March 1964) is a Hindi language poet from India. He has published eight poetry collections in Hindi. His poems have been translated and published by the Poetry Translation Centre.

Gopikrishnan  Kottoor ( English) 


(The Light Within)

A Krishna nearly

As old as me.

I remember,

That evening,

When father bought him

From one of the pavement shops in Guruvayur.

He was there among many other gods,

Handsome in his crown among peacock feathers,

By the myriad bright brass lamps.

He was all gold against

A blue background.

When we came home,

We hung him on the wall.

A decoration piece

In father’s office room.

Yes, one day he fell

And broke his leg.

For years he was not found.

And one day

After the property partition,

I found him again.

He had gone under

My mother’s photograph

And with her

To the attic.

I dusted him,

I took him with me.

His gold is mostly gone,


Now he’s with me.

A leg broken,

Still hanging on to his calf and flute.

I light a candle for him

Every evening,

And looking at him,

I remember

My dead brother,

My smoking father,

His coma corpse sailing quietly to the electric crematorium

Making a small occasional sound

As though he feared that fire

And came alive;

My lovely mother

Who died alone in a hospital bed, calling out her children’s names,

I remember the rose garden,

Back in our home,

That night jessamine,

And its fragrance

Not letting me sleep,

And I give him a place,

The first among gods,

I don’t care

If he is no more divine,

But he is secretly mine.

And to him,

I don’t know why

I like him so much

No more gold,

Aging, broken,

Not too good

To look at

As he used to be before,

But to him,

Is my silence,

My lost prayer.



God Smiled

God smiled.

It was then

That I saw his teeth.

White teeth

Shining like stars in the night

Yet his face was dark.

It was then that I realized

That he was a carnivore

Who eats the gentle wild buck

In the forest,

The birds flying happily in the skies

My dear God

Who with his sparkling white teeth

Tears me apart


Eats me.



Night Nurse

One night she appeared.

She just stood there

All white.

She asked me

Are you happy


Bent over

And said


I do not know her name

I never saw her again


Even now

She brings home

A night that

Remembers its stars.


Gopikrishnan  Kottoor’s recent poetry appears in Acumen, The Antonym, Madras Courier ,  Best Asian Poetry, Converse, The Year Book of Indian Poetry in English, among others. A  National poetry award winner, Gopi Kottoor’s Swan Lake (Selected Poems) is his eighteenth book of poems.  He edited the poetry anthology ‘English Poetry from Kerala: Seven Contemporary  Poets.’

Blog. https://gopikottoor.blogspot.com



Ananta Kumar Singh



A Little Drop Of Water

A little drop of water

Evoke the imagine of the creature

A little drop of water

Refresh the tree branches

A little drop of water

The elegant beauty of nature

A little drop of water

Splendour bloom of the flower

A little drop of water

Express the feeling of the writer

A little drop of water

Monsoon is the season of love


Ananta Kumar Singh is an Indian poet. He hails from the Bargarh Indian state of Odisha. He pursued his Under Graduation at Ravenshaw University, Cuttack.


Nyamthian Tangjang


I am pouring it all out today.

I loved you and I don’t hate you,


What if reality was only a dream?

Shall we pretend like our eyes were closed,

Because there would be no more regrets?

Or should I be sad for the loss of all my memories

That I had made.

All the things I had learned from my mistakes

Will be taken away from me,

And I might do the same old things again.

And call it a deja-vu of some kind.

We lie

We pretend

We do things that are forbidden

We break hearts

We became rebels

You know what they say

We are born sinners.

I want to laugh,

Without the fear of crying


Nyamthian Tangjang is a writer and the author of the poetry book “BLUE:God even made the sky blue, as if , it knew.” Her poem has been published in an anthology book “never tear us apart” and local magazine. She enjoys music, good food and healthy companionship. She also like learning and is a curious soul. And she is continuously working to be the best version of herself.

Fri, Nov 11, 10:30 AM (1 day ago)

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