Dallas, Texas

21 July 2007

Five Poems

Names for Rock Bands
Bosnia, 1995   
Lullaby Singers
Where Was I Last Night?
A Mother Speaks to Her Poet Son

About Gjeke Marinaj




All our lives we keep running,
we look only ahead.
What happens behind us, we fear to know.
We have no names.
We are all called horses:
we don’t cry,
we don’t laugh,
we silence ourselves.
We listen,
we eat what we are given,
we go where we are told.
None of us is sharp enough.
For the horse of the king,
they made a high post.
For the horse of the princess,
they made a gold saddle.
On the horse of the peasant,
they tossed a saddle of straw.
As for the wild horse,
they threw him outdoors.
Yet before the people,
we were and remain horses.



bosnia, 1995

At close range flesh-on-fire
At a distance   word-silent

Alongside sound-scorched
Inside tear-torn

From on high badly-seen
From beneath badly-slain

half of it slobbering senseless
The other half bleeding senseless

The Bosnians’ life –
Their last bullet

The United Nations –
Ever-open grave traps



lullaby singers

—To the farmers of Colorado, TX

They step onto the golden plain and turn
into men of iron. Heat of midday
seethes within them, and they hum, a sound
like the unfolding of the field.
The earth trembles
and roars beneath their feet,
as they become its blessed lullaby singers.
It would not be strange one day
to hear ears of corn sprouting in their veins.
The warmth of the soil
bubbles their blood, and they are not afraid
of open spaces, gold-gray
or sepia like weak coffee.
The timeless contours of the earth
do not stain their hands or faces.
As their clatter makes them flimsy men, they join
the new dance, the sift of earth, with ease
and begin their clamorous toil with bowed heads.
Their sweat, like pranksters, puts out their cigarettes
and hides in the loneliness of night.
Before they hear birds twitter overhead,
they fasten their fingers on steel-nosed plows and turn
the soil. Fatigue glides off their fingernails
and melts away.
The sun gently nods to them
as he lies down under the heavy breath of night.



where was i last night?

—a morning riddle for Mei Lin and Frederick Turner


Where the trees like to murmur
Where the silence wants to sing
Where the flowers love to grow
Where the finch delights to drink

Where the river tightens its bow
Where the water ripples rhyme
Where the pens come to think
Where the moon peeks at night

Where the shores are metaphors
Where water speaks in metric feet
Where the stars pour their shine
Where the waves secretly meet

Where God keeps his green eye
Where the river flows and glows
Where poems strike the sky
Where the poet lights the words.



a mother speaks to her poet son

Your infantile face opened up
with the blossoming of peach trees…
Whom you resembled.  But I wanted you
                            more handsome still.
Within my eyes I hid you
so your evolution from blossom
                                          to fruit
might be ever so brief.
Your growth left no footprints on my apron.
Even as a toddler you yearned to catch the rainbow
                                                        with your hand;
but each time the rainbow drifted away
              with the hoary locks of the sky.
You came back crying.
Now you neither cry nor run
                            after it.
Because you have your own rainbow – of words.
Is this not a rare thing of beauty?
Once I measured your growth by the palms of my hands.
While now others measure it
by the lines of poetry you write.
You are a poet
and the poets’ reach extends beyond the boundaries of space.



Gjeke Marinaj Born in Albania, published an anti-Communist poem called “Horses” in 1990. Warned that his arrest for writing the poem was imminent, Marinaj escaped authorities by hiking through the mountains overnight and crossing the border from Albania into Yugoslavia.  Now an American citizen, Marinaj lives with his wife, Dusita, in Richardson, where he is a graduate student at the University of Texas at Dallas.  He is currently president of the Albanian-American Society of Writers and editor of Pena International, a bilingual literary journal; he has also published several books of poems and translations.