Saturday, May 24, 2014

This Valley of Death is Not My Country



(Translated from the Bangla poem Ei Mrityu Upotyawka Amar Desh Na by Nabarun Bhattacharya with a few alterations)







I spit on the father who fears to point at his child’s corpse
I spit on the brother and his shameless sanity despite everything
I spit on the teacher, the intellectual, the poet and the clerk
who do not seek to avenge this bloodbath out in the open

Seventeen corpses
lie stretched across the pathway of reckoning
I am losing my senses bit by bit
Seventeen open pairs of eyes look at me in sleep
I scream out
I will turn insane
I will kill myself
I will do whatever I want to do
I will eat the sun, the moon and the stars
I will smash all bridges between the viewer and the viewed
This is the exact time for poetry
Through stenciled manifestos on naked walls
A collage crafted of own blood, tears and bones –
now is the time for poetry
in the torn face of severest pain
right now is the time to hurl poetry
face to face with real terror –
keeping eyes fixed at the blinding headlight of the vans
at the three naught three and whatever else the killers have
It is time to face them with poetry

Through stone-cold lock-up chambers
Shattering the yellow lamps of crime investigation cells
In courthouses run by murderers
In seats of learning that teach lies and spew venoms of hatred
In the state machine churning abuse and terror
In the heartless chest of gunmen who serve that machine –
Let the anger of poetry echo out in fury
Let the poets of the world prepare themselves, like Lorca,
for their strangled corpses to disappear
let them be ready to be stitched up by machine-gun bullets
the hours beckon
the city of poetry must be surrounded by villages of poetry.
this valley of death is not my country
this executioner’s theater is not my country
this vast charnel-ground is not my country
this blood-drenched slaughterhouse is not my country
I will snatch my country back
I will pull the fog-kissed white kans flowers, the crimson dusks and the endless rivers
back into my chest
With all my body I shall surround the fireflies, forests burning in ancient hills,
countless crops of hearts, flowers, humans and horses from fairytales
I shall name each star after each martyr
I shall call out to the howling breezes, lights and shadows playing across the fish-eyed lakes of dawn
And Love – banished to places lightyears away ever since I was born:
I shall call it too, to join the carnival of the day of Revolution.

I reject
Days and nights of interrogation with a thousand watts of electricity blazing straight into eyeballs
I reject
Electric needles inside fingernails
I reject
Having to lie naked on chunks of ice
I reject
Being hanged upside down till blood gushes out of nostrils
I reject
Spiked boots pressed on lips, burning iron rods on every inch of skin
I reject
The sudden blast of alcohol on whiplashed back
I reject
Stark electric jolts on the nerves, pieces of rocks shoved inside vaginas, scrotums mangled to pulp
I reject
Being beaten and thrashed to death
I reject
Revolver-muzzles stuck against craniums

Poetry is eternal, irrepressible
Poetry is armed, poetry is free, poetry is fearless
Behold the warriors –
Mayakovsky, Hikmet, Neruda, Aragon, Eluard –
Look at them looking at you from the clouds.
Call out loud.
We haven’t let your poetry lose
A new epic is being written throughout the land
Prosodies and dactyls are raising their hungry heads
in guerrilla meters and rhythms.
Dhamsas, Madals roar their beats of wild anger out
Tribal hamlets stand like coral islands
Indigo fields reddened with blood
A river named Titas and
those poison hoods of king cobra dangling
from her wounded face.
Death-soaked aconites spread toxic roots
Bowstrings of warrior heroes from lores and epics ready to hurl arrows that blind the sun
Sharpest edges of wildest swords,
Pointed, poisoned tips of lancets, spears, javelins, shafts
glistening in their mad rage, charging out to reclaim all lost shores
Blood-eyed tribal-totems swaying to angry beats of a million drums –
all thunder out in perfect accord
and there are guns, cutlasses and daggers
and there is courage heaped up in piles, alive and vital
so much of courage that there’s nothing to fear anymore!
And there are cranes, severe, tusked bulldozers, processions, convoys,
dynamos in motion,  turbines, lathe-machines sweating in workshops of heroes
Stern diamond-eyes shining through methane darkness of trapped mine-slides
strange strong hammers made of iron
A thousand hands raised against bleary skies of dockyards, jutemills, against boiling pits of furnaces,
tons of coal fuming in acid vendetta, blazing in the life-maddened gall
to reclaim all that there was
and all that there shall ever be.
No, there’s nothing to fear anymore.
The pale face of fear belongs to some stranger
when I know that Death is nothing but Love.
If I am killed, I shall become a million tiny flames
and spread across all the earthen lamps of the world
I am eternal
I shall return each season, each year, each aeon
as the green hope of soil
I am eternal
I shall stay in joy, I shall stay in sorrow
I shall live through each new birth and cremation
As long as the world is alive
As long as human beings are alive.



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