Poems by Gjekë Marinaj


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Gjekë Marinaj

To Dusitsa – Unawares

The planets have lost nothing of importance
In their semi-intoxicated revolutions.
From the quaint standpoint of man,
They seem equidistant, indifferent…

Majestic like grand pyramids,
They are nonetheless overwhelmed by your candid nature,
And cast off the weariness of age,
like a fine nylon decollete,
Eager to behold themselves in the mirror of
your surpassing beauty.

Your beauty is so ravishing
That the planets seem like beads on your neck.
…And, even as they take pleasure in themselves,
They eye each other with envy, my beloved.

Looking out from where I stand,
Straddling the gap between being a man
And elected by fate to be your lover,
It’s odd that down there on earth,
humans don’t identify you with space.
But then, how can those poor wretches discern your world…!

Earthlings send up astronauts, space ships, Apollo 13…
To find life on other planets, beloved.
Unaware that something magical occurred
With your birth,
And that all those planets are aligned
And hang like fabulous ornaments around your neck.

The Girls of California

They walk tiptoe on the muscular arms of mother earth,
Spinning magic webs with the shifting shadows
of their movements,
Translucent wonders – glances that ensnare
Touch them, and the universe is transformed into crystal domes.

The girls of California,
Soft-spoken and sweet-voiced,
The language of their bodies suffices to cause earth tremors;
While with young men – spectacles through whom the sea
appears like a rose in bloom –
They use honeyed words;
And the sound of their voices reverberates like
an oncoming echo
From a virginal star-studded realm.

California is a perennial Greenland of girls.
The stagnant clouds linger in confusion between them
and the heavens.
The frustrated volcanoes of Hawaii angrily vomit
the fire in their belly
To singe the salty lips of the waters.
Without the girls of California, beauty itself would feel
like an orphan.

Those beautiful, honey-tongued blondes
Transform the lives of boys into dreams of long duration
And breast-feed those dreams to merry manhood.


We spend our lives running
We see only what’s ahead of us
We don’t care what happens behind us.
We are nameless;
“Horses” is what everybody calls us.
We don’t weep.
We don’t laugh.
We keep quiet.
We listen.
Eat what is set before us,
Go where we are told.
None of us is keen of mind.
The steed mounted by a king
Had a lofty post.
The steed mounted by a princess
Had a saddle of gold.
The peasant’s horse
Had a saddle of straw.
The wild horse
Slept outdoors all his life.
But vis-à-vis man, we have been and remain just horses!


Tonight I shall furtively arise from slumber
wearing the lovely mask of a dream.
I entreat you, my Albania, to do likewise –
You, the breath that blew the breeze of life
to evoke painful chimes of love…
Let us toy with the minutes the way the years toy with us
in this unique moment of parching thirst.
Tonight let us meet at the crossroads of the heavens.
You shall have no difficulty spotting me…
For we are so much alike, my precious.
In my locks reside the citizens of the future.
Each strand is a dwelling without barred windows.
The cries of children and the laughter of tired mothers
are lullabyes I use to lull stale evenings to sleep.
For the first time, the silence shall generate white bedsheets
to soak up the fluids of hardened skins of pain…
Seclusion will dissolve the modern veil of nakedness.
I shall resemble your tattered flag smelling of foul odors,
dusty like the ashen soil of the moon, perhaps Butrint…
oh, Albania!
The letters of your name keep me from becoming destitute.
Your voice lights up shattered cities of antiquity
like hot sands in flight,
where the dappled spine of my laughter lies scorched.
I want to meet you face to face, beloved!
And should it happen that I’m blinded by your splendor,
I shall the better see myself and others.


On the wings of polished noises
the full face of the miraculous
you revealed to me in the dark pit that was my home.
The soft rains of your tender love
inundated the meadows of my renewed spirit.
All of the fowls of the world took off
from the verses of Neruda
and showed up to give meaning to the skies
that are even now washing clean the powder of the rebel years
and the thick locks of my grief.
We are kneaded so seamlessly
one with the other, beloved,
that I’ve become a stranger to precision;
which one of us is me,
in the all-too-often glass-fragile Globe of love?


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.


As ambassador to the realm of marine life
I answer for the loss of lips in fishes.
Secrets reveal themselves above all in dreams,
Your eyes charge the batteries for the transition from
day-to-night and night-to-day,
Were your eyes for a moment to become a darkened sky,
Mine would become sockets in the skull of an empty ocean,
At times, love is perversely fated to see with Homer’s eyes.
This was the speech I gave before the creatures of the deep,
In the “sea” chamber.
Perhaps from that day onward,
The crocodiles took umbrage at man…
The icebergs no longer publish poems about seagulls,
And crabs plod along without the aid of their eyes!
Fishes alone remained open-mouthed and lipless…
Wonder-struck by your eyes, making me hesitate
To tell other people…
Your eyes
They are the abode where my soul hangs on a nail
its winter garments.


(To my native land)

How may other children have you driven into exile since then…
You, my gray-stone cradle, my summer magic.
What remains, and
What has been scorched within my body from longing for you,
I do not know:
My shoes, headed your way, are leaving ashen footprints on the road
Your landscapes are daring to revive and let go of the rot
of yesteryears.
You have mellowed the cold wind blasts of separation!
Aware that I have outgrown my leaf-green diapers,
Knitted with rainbow fingers wielding thin pine needles…
Much time has passed since last we saw each other, but still we
keep alive the memory, dear soul.
I shall tread in trepidation…
Yet, I know that you shall not let me weep in the
meadows reserved for welcoming your offspring,
Once again you shall proffer me your medallion of reconciliation;
In daytime, the racing eye of the sun,
Succeeded at night by the face of the moon,
Hang on the delicate chain of my being.
I am pouring out my heart in defiance of the word “oblivion”!
See, how you’ve shriveled, along with me:
The trees that once shed tears,
To make fables come alive,
Are hardly more than stumps…
Now, they can relate only ballads…
The wretched grass has drooped to the ground.
(how could it keep fresh and green?)
Therefore, knowing that my native lands are your welcoming arms,
I shall transform myself into a bird
And come to revive your withered dreams in the life-giving
rains of your caring mothers.
With you in my soul, I cannot die on my feet.
You shall sense my halting step, as I wait for the fulfillment
of this vision.

We Were Adolescents And Put Off Love

Till Tomorrow

At the time, the air resounded with the sounds of the city.
Yonder, the forest waited graciously to envelop
us with its green veil.
We felt that our first encounter called for quieter places
The sky was blue; no fog was in the offng.
It was noon. Yet, it seemed like dusk somehow!
We hadn’t touched liquor, yet felt intoxicated.
How could we fathom the thirst for the unknown?
Or ignore the devouring looks of people…?
How could we trust the open spaces of the plains?
Or the eavesdroppmg of birds…?
Or the sly glances of the sunflowers?
Wasn’t it a sin to make the leaves of the forest
yearn with longing when they looked upon us…?
What if the grass …where we frolicked …caught fire
From our torrid passion and burned up?
Hm? We were adolescents,
Which is why we put off love till tomorrow.