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Poets ask why is there war?


Those bloody years

I could sing to you about
distant lands, about
attractive anecdotes, about
miracles, about
multicolored birds, about the
squirrels which ate out of my hand
or about the fuzzy koala bears.
Ah, how could I!
Ah, if only I could!

Those bloody year
do not allow me
to forget.
(How can I do it?
How could I do it!)

Stjepan Šešelj, Croatia (1947-)
Translation:  Željka Lovrenčić  – Germain Droogenbroodt

Note: Germain Droogenbroodt publishes a poem a week under the name Point Editions. In the case of this poem called "those bloody years", he wrote the following:

I selected that poem from Croatia, thinking of the pictures we see daily at the TV and about the scares the wars leave not inly in the body, but sometimes may be deeper in the soul of the victims, wounds, with never heal.


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When will they ever learn ...

                                        where have all the flowers gone?

                    where all the young men?



        Poppies on the island of Spetses




Ask your father, why is there war?

Photos upon photos show the trail of soldiers

ending up as corpses left dangling in barbed wires

where mines blew them up and fires ignited after bombs dropped

to scar mother earth as shown in the fields of Verdun.

What differences does it make when a house is aflame

or merely bombed out,

if afterwards no one is at home any more

to cook for all a good meal, sing a song

and let conversations flourish

around the dinner table

without having to mention what war is like.

Gone since the war is the laughter of children.

They had left as young men into the battle fields.

Only few of them came back.

The birds fly low.

An old lady looks out the window,

down the village road. It is told she waits

for her man to return. He has been gone

by now for a long time.

You can hear the clock ticking away at the wall.

But why, why, will they never learn?

And then there is the song, "when will they ever learn?"

Where have all the flowers gone?

Where the young men?

Ritsos said the young men, once gone, do not die,

but wait in their graves and hold onto the rope

of the church bell which they shall ring

once freedom has been found.

But what if this fight for freedom never ends?

Will it mean we shall never hear the church bells ring?

When will they ever learn?

Where has all the love gone to?

When will they ever learn?

O yes, and those who have been silenced

they no longer pose that same question,why is there war?


Hatto Fischer



Frage Deinen Vater, warum gibt es Krieg?

Fotos nach Fotos zeigen Reste von Soldaten

die als Leichnam im Stacheldraht hängen geblieben, dort zurück gelassen wurden,

nachdem Minen hoch gingen und Feuer nach den Bombenabwürfen ausbrach,

um Mutter Erde erneut mit Narben zu überziehen, und noch heute zu sehen

anhand den Feldern von Verdun.

Worin besteht der Unterschied zwischen einem ausgebombtem und einem in Flammen aufgegangenem Haus,

wenn im Nachhinein keiner mehr zuhause ist,

um für alle eine gute Mahlzeit zu kochen, ein Lied zu singen und die Unterhaltung am Tisch aufblühen zu lassen

und all das ohne ein Wort zum Krieg zu verlieren?

Aufgehört hat das Lachen der Kinder nach dem Krieg.

Sie gingen in die Schlacht als junge Männer.

Nur wenige von ihnen kehrten zurück.

Die Vögel fliegen niedrig.

Eine alte Frau schaut zum Fenster raus,

runter der Dorfstraße. Es wird gesagt sie wartet

dass ihr Mann zurückkehrt. Er ist bereits seit langem verschwunden.

Du kannst die Uhr an der Wand ticken hören.

Aber warum, warum wollen sie niemals lernen?

Da gibt es das Lied, „when will they ever learn?“

Wohin sind all die Blumen gegangen?

Wohin die jungen Männer?

Ritsos sagte diese jungen Männer, wenn einmal weg, sie sterben nicht,

sondern warten in ihrem Grab und halten fest an der Schnur zur Kirchenglocke die sie läuten werden wenn einmal die Freiheit eintritt.

Aber was geschieht wenn der Kampf um die Freiheit niemals zu Ende geht?

Wann werden sie jemals lernen?

Wohin ist die ganze Liebe verschwunden?

Wann werden sie jemals lernen?

Ach ja, und diejenigen die zum Schweigen gebracht wurden,

die stellen nicht länger die gleiche Frage,

warum gibt es den Krieg?


Hatto Fischer





                                             Venus in front of the mirror

                                             by Velasque


by Sarah Thilykou

I learned to see
my own face in the mirror
- which may be why
I see it as pretty

these small niches
under the eyes
the slightest spots from the sun
even the subtle crook of the nose
(that comes from myopia glasses)

this joining of the eyebrows
these contractions of the lips
these cheeks, the teeth, the hair

There are many
who bother to change
- a new face
a different one

but I
have learned to see this face
it is this face I wear
this face

you and me

(English Translation: Yiorgos Chouliaras)


मैंने अपने खुद के चेहरे को
आईने में देखना सीखा
हो सकता है इसीलिए
वह मुझे खूबसूरत लगता है

आँखों के नीचे
यह छोटे छोटे ताक
सूरज से मिले हल्के से हल्के तिल
यहाँ तक कि नाक की बारीक टेढ़ भी
जो नज़दीक के चश्मे से मिली है)

यह भौंहों का जोड़
यह होठों की सिकुड़नें
यह गाल ,दाँत,बाल

कई हैं जो
बदलने को परेशान होते हैं
एक नया चेहरा
दूसरा वाला

लेकिन मैंने
इसी चेहरे को देखना सीख लिया है
यही चेहरा लगाता हूँ मैं
यह चेहरा

तुम और मैं

(Hindi Translation: Vishnu Khare)

S. T.

Sarah Thilykouwas born in Thessaloniki, where she studied theology, drama, and music, with further work in Utrecht and Paris. She has performed professionally as an actor and singer and is currently teaching in secondary education in Athens. She has published many poems, essays, and translations in Greek literary publications, including Nea Poreia, and Poeticanet, of which she is an editor, as well as abroad.




     Yiorgos Chouliaras


Yiorgos Chouliaras


In the cigarette smoke of dead soldiers

in their metallic shouts take it all off

as blades of rich reflections cross

on the fingers of a banker who applauds

in the hungry looks of impatient adolescents

who can’t stand it any more, urging her to strip

before their explosion destructively erupts

all over the pulverized stage

from the shining tips of false brassieres

I give rhythm to the hard striptease of history

endlessly playing on the drums of the Balkans

an old African song of Chicago

Translated by David Mason & the author

[From The Treasure of the Balkans. First published in 1982, the poemis included in the similarly titled volume that came out in 1988.]


Γιώργος Χουλιάρας


Μες στους καπνούς από τα τσιγάρα των νεκρών φαντάρων

μες στις μεταλλικές κραυγές τους βγάλτα όλα

καθώς διασταυρώνονται οι λεπίδες

πλούσιων λάμψεων από χοντρά μπριγιάν

στα δάχτυλα ενός τραπεζίτη που χειρονομεί

μέσα στα λαίμαργα βλέμματα ανυπόμονων εφήβω

που δεν αντέχουν πια και βιάζονται να γδυθεί

πριν καταστροφικά ξεσπάσει η έκρηξή τους

πάνω στο παλκοσένικο το καταφαγωμένο

από τα λαμπερά σαγόνια των ψεύτικων σουτιέν

δίνω ρυθμό στο πιο σκληρό στριπτίζ της ιστορίας

παίζοντας ασταμάτητα στα κύμβαλα των Βαλκανίων

ένα παλιό ρεφρέν των Νέγρων του Σικάγου


[Πρώτη δημοσίευση 1982. Πρόκειται για το πρώτο ποίημα της σειράς «Ο θησαυρός

 των Βαλκανίων» και περιλαμβάνεται στο ομώνυμο βιβλίο, που εκδόθηκε το 1988.]



Some readers called the poem "prophetic" many years after its publication, when the
wars and civil wars broke out in former Yugoslavia.




Letter from Ralph Nazareth to Carlos after having been at the 26th World Poetry Festival in Medellin, June 18 - 25, 2016


Audience at the opening of 26th World Poetry Festival         Photo: Ralph Nazareth

This is a letter Ralph Nazareth wrote to the Colombian poet Carlos Aguasaco…


The video you shared of the Peace Accord celebration is playing on my computer as I write this note to you. As you know, I don’t have any more than a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish, the language in which my wife bares her heart and dreams her dreams, and you, poet, tell your stories which erect skyscrapers below oceans of consciousness.

But this much I know: the language of peace is built on a syntax shared by all, and no obstacles of peculiar inflexions and a particular vocabulary can stop its flow into the hearts of people. That’s a way of putting it--possibly sentimental.

Are we as poets called to tighten language, sharpen it, get below the surface of the obvious? I believe so—because anything short of seeing the whole picture, in all its complexity, is to run the risk of once again slipping down the slope of habits that lead back to the same points of self-serving politics and violence. This is the only way for us, the so-called guardians of what makes us human—to walk the narrow path to ensure that we get to the “open road” without illusions.

Just months ago, I had the privilege and pleasure of visiting your extraordinary land of birth, as alive with ancient and vital spirits as it has been ravaged in recent decades by forces of violence. I saw thousands gather to hear poets—morning and night, rain and shine. It was clear that they knew—unlike, alas, the culturally deprived, hence degraded, people of el norte—that language was our “first and last freedom.”

Throughout the poetry festival in Medellin, I seemed to be conscious of the body as body. Chalk it up to the changes in air, food, gesture, language, chemistry. But, in truth, I think it was mainly because I felt that just below the surface, here was a land that had borne a terrible wound. This feeling—palpable, physical--accompanied me everywhere I went. And it was clearly the reason why the body stood out for me as the house of being in need of protection that could be provided ultimately not by machetes, guns, and tanks but only by myths, songs, and rituals of heartfelt words that “purify” and elevate at every point the “language of the tribe” and the soul of a nation.

On this day of the celebration of peace in Colombia, let this be my affirmation of the life of language—however fleeting in comparison with the indestructibility of the cockroach—real as long as it lasts.

Ralph Nazareth



Addressing Jerusalem from India: Keki N. Daruwalla






You burn like an eternal candle


We are small men, our eternities are short

You are an eternity Jerusalem

Time is but a wee bit older than your stones, Yarushalim

Beyond the desolate sea of sand

And the desolate sea of salt

I come upon the amethyst dusk

And your white stone, Jerusalem.

For those who know history

There’s nothing like you, Jerusalem.

For those who know God

There’s nothing like you Jerusalem.

I know neither, and yet for me

There’s nothing like you Jerusalem


Those who drove us with their swords from Persia

Let them not drive you from Jerusalem, Israel

Those who hate you ,

May failure be the wreath upon their tomb-stones.


There are flares in the sky

But the lamps of Jerusalem burn low.

For what you are doing in Gaza

The siege and starvation; medicine

And nourishment denied to children—

Is not defensible, Jerusalem.

Arab children play and laugh and hunger for love

Just as your children, Jerusalem

You have a duty to the future, Jerusalem

Let the dew on the olive branch

Not turn to a coat of cordite

On this new year eve I pray,

Though as an agnostic I’ve

No One to pray to,

That peace and dew

Descend on you—

On Palestine and you Jerusalem.


Keki N. Daruwalla




Du brennst gleich einer unendlichen Flamme


Wir sind kleine Männer, unsere Existenz dauert nur kurz

Du bist eine Unendlichkeit Jerusalem

Zeit ist nur ein bisschen älter als deine Steine, Yarushalim

Jenseits der desolaten See aus Sand

Und der desolaten See aus Salz

Begegne ich die Amethyst Dämmerung

Und Deine weißen Steine, Jerusalem.

Für diejenigen die Geschichte kennen

gibt es nichts vergleichbares zu dir, Jerusalem.

Für diejenigen die Gott kennen,

da ist nichts was dir gleich kommt, Jerusalem.

Ich weiß auch nichts anderes, und doch für mich

gibt es nichts vergleichbares zu dir, Jerusalem


Jene die uns aus Persien mit ihren Schwertern vertrieben

Lasse sie dich nicht aus Jerusalem, Israel vertreiben

Jene die dich hassen,

Mögen scheitern bei den Kränzen auf den Grabsteinen.


Da gibt es ein Aufleuchten am Himmel

Aber die Laternen von Jerusalem brennen niedrig.

Denn was tust Du im Gaza

Die Belagerung und das Verhungern; Medizin

Und Ernährung den Kindern vor-enthalten —

Das ist nicht zu rechtfertigen, Jerusalem.

Arabische Kinder spielen und lachen und sind hungrig auf Liebe

Gleich deinen Kindern, Jerusalem

Du hast die Verantwortung für die Zukunft, Jerusalem

Lasse den Tau auf dem Olivenzweig

nicht eine Schicht an Cordite werden

An diesem Neuen Jahr bete ich,

Obwohl der Agnostiker der ich bin

habe niemanden zu dem ich beten könnte,

dass Frieden und Tau

sich auf dich niederlassen —

Auf Palästina und Du Jerusalem.


Keki N. Daruwalla


Aus dem Englischen übersetzt von Hatto Fischer 29.9.2016



A Poem for Peace


If there were no cables or satellites


no wireless and no wires


life would be better, we would only hear


the muffled voices of our own desires




and little else. The migrant trail in Europe wouldn’t be


the cataract that it is now, as it pours


across screen and newsprint. Greek economy would be Greek to us,


shrapnel would not be delivered at our doors.




News can be stored in a cloud now; we don’t want


chronologies of metal discs, narratives of flame,


the mark of napalm on vegetation, ghosts catching fire


in forests of pain, and drugs into the bargain.




Gurilleros once hid behind hectoring hoardings


Of revolution; they were always on the run, today they hide


With drug lords; the same over-the-shoulder look,


Still startled by a shadow, pupils darting left and right.




Colombia is now at peace I found;


the other day I was in Medellin,


not to broker peace or rail at war


I was with poetry, the cello and the violin.




I asked if I could move around?


No one said ‘for God’s sake don’t go far’.


By the lantern light of a dim half moon I roamed;


No one ever mentioned Pablo Escobar.




Whether prayers work or no, I shall not know


but let’s wish the world becomes a no-war zone


and devas and asuras don’t fight—I don’t know who is right


and wish political clamour gets a softer tone.


If this happens I’ll believe in benediction by and by


and hope it rains down from the cupola that we call the sky.


Keki N. Daruwalla






Germain Droogenbroodt


THE FACES of the gods blur

the word became homeless
and extends to the pilgrim
in pursuit of the road
no guidance, no shelter anymore


- the universe does not come to rest


how long does your eternity last?


Germain Droogenbroodt
From: “Counterlight



On the 27th  of October Germain Droogenbroodt will have a poetry recital in Belgium, presenting his next (11th) poetry book in Dutch-Spanish: “The Ephemeral Flower of Time”, with intermezzos of music. In conjunction with the programme of the WMP project, he will recite these two poems. On purpose he selected these two poems from countries which have suffered a lot of war. The first one is "those bloody years" (see above), and the second one by Roque Dalton, an excellent poet, who was murdered, is called "Just like you"..


Just like you

Just like you,
I love love, I love life and the sweet charm
of things, the heavenly landscape
of January days,

My blood too bustles
and I laugh through eyes
which have known the flood of tears.

I think that the world is beautiful,
that poetry is like bread, for everybody

And that my veins do not end in me
but in the anonymous blood
of those who fight for life,
for love,
for things,
the landscape and the bread
the poetry of everybody.

Roque Dalton (El Salvador)
Translation: Germain Droogenbroodt



Leave me my own world
that very small world of mine
so fragile, so frail

Déjame mi propio mundo
este pequeño mundo mío
tan frágil, tan delicado


How short is freedom
gained by a blossom, released
from a cherry tree

Que breve la libertad
de una flor de cerezo
liberada de su árbol






Now there are the memories

of the survivors

books, medals, photos.

Now there are

graves, flowers,dust

- some specks of dust

dancing through the sunbeams

some specks of dust

from those lost in the horrible battles

some specks of dust

from the victims of massacres

some specks of dust

from Anna

[killed by toxic gases]

some specks of dust

from her little son

[killed at the same time, too]

some specks of dust

from Werner' s eyeglasses

[really hated that war]

some specks of dust

from cities bombed

from villages put into fire

some specks of dust

from comrades

who never went back home.

Now, so many years after

these specks of dust

-unfulfilled wishes,

violently cut off dreams-

continue to fly,
continue to dance
under the sunlight

over the blood-stained earth of Crete.

There have not been words,

there never shall be words

to describe

all things that these specks of dust,

strolling in front of eyes filled with tears

can say.

Penelope Dountoulaki

* Liturgy (Greek: λειτουργία)



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