kazi nazrul islam:  encounters with song
poems from the bengali
by jason francisco

today in song after song

today in song after song i'll hide,
expose a soul turning thorny wounds to flowers,
forget neglect,
track the strings of my instrument—

today if the flowers tear i'll make a garland,
yours when you arrive, my song cascade,
yours when you arrive in streams,
yours when you strike out your rhymes, word after word—

you, desolate, world-empty soul of no joy.

me again, found

me again, found
the loss of me evidently incomplete

my sky:  quiet, no trace
but night in the mind

the refuge corner, now remote
soon fire there too, my dark one


i’m going, clutching you

i'm going, clutching you,
turning to wind, caressing your hair when you loosen it,
returning as the spell of a song
returning when the sky gets drowsy and the wind cries.
i'm going, hanging as a pendant on your breast.

there will be a gathering, and all manner of guests,
and suddenly:  a beggar without your alms,
and suddenly:  you, struck, numb,
the sky getting drowsy and the wind lifting,
someone dead mingling in the dust of your path.

i, no more

i, no more, and my memory nothing,
you in the mirror reflecting the shadow,
the shadow nothing as you move.

i don't know who remembers whom.

i remember a sea heaving under a caressing moon,
a desert desperate with thirst, a house,
the river spilling onto the other shore when this one dropped.

no, i don't know which clutched mind gave up its pain,
or whose grave fluttered with these kisses.


my songbird, tired

my songbird, tired, lost in sleep,
evening's flowers, fallen, dropped.

silence at the arrow's touch,
wailing at the evening queen's loosening of hair.

a sigh struggling for breath in my corner,
the bush without morning flowers, its song-bird entering the gulf of separation.

my voice, knowing little of speech,
and nothing of illusions that flash for what's lost.


i am branded

i am branded with the scars of a hundred births
and a hundred condemnations to lasting hell,
still i might be forgiven—but not for meanness.

i crave the absence of smallness, a wide way out,
a non-circumscribed path through the world, real tenderness,
a new heart:  where enemies should dwell together.

don't let me blame anyone,
just let me lament the affliction of a small mind.

how can i sing

how can i sing when the words have ended,
laughter is done, and melodies linger in silence—

except for the hour of the evening conch,
the dream-lay is suddenly spent,
my own songs budding at your feet,
their end urging your eyelids toward sleep—

and now morning, the lamp-prayer, the river-crossing,
and my waiting with a resting flute,
summoning the boat-man—