More translations from Nepal


Wayne's photos and poems in this issue

Winter 2002


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“Sky” was published in Webster Review, “Two Siddicharans” appeared in Manoa

Manjul Manjul


One day the sky came to hide in my cup of tea
I tried to draw it to my heart,
and quickly drank the tea
But with the last drops the sky flew away

I filled my cup
and once again the sky fell
Someone said “Slip it in your pocket.
Hide it, yes, hide it there.”
But I feared the singe of flesh
the sun would bring,
that the heavy rains would pour
To be overwhelmed by the whirling winds of storm!
So many stars would be too much to bear
Could I carry such wonders away
in my flimsy string bag?

Someone said, “Man, be daring.
To live with the sky is a helluva thing.”
But I recalled the flash and thunder,
lightning as it struck

For this which comes once in a life
I would not risk such dangers
Not a pack of cigarettes
not even cloves, nor cardamom do I carry
Then, why should I wish to walk off with the sky?

I said, “Where would the earth be
without the sun and moon, didn't a voice cry out —
— “Let there be light.”

So, yes, I threw the sky back

Who Am I?

Sometimes like a beast
taunted by the arctic night
I run on and on
Or like a bird torn free
from the swirling ribs of storm
I keen my wings. Sometimes
in the bitter tears of a woman's lament
or the smashed seed
where the earth's songs are reborn
in that drop of dew
I feel I am you
at rest in my eyes at ease in that gaze
Even in my absence I am you
Your joy smiling your pain weeping
I'm a flute — play me!
Tongue and lips warmed by breath drawn forth
Let fingers realize deftness
in the shape of song
Have I not responded with the tune you wanted?
Haven't you realized
even being myself I am you
At ease in my eyes at rest in that gaze
Sometimes I feel I am that crystal sky
pinnacled to be seen everywhere
your pleasure awakened your pain released

Two Siddhicharans*

Two Siddhicharans came to my house
coming with their hands, they leave their feet outside
Coming on foot, they leave their hands outside

Two Siddhicharans came to my house
Both write poems When one feels he must write,
the other wants so much to tour the country
When the first then wants to roam, the other stands still stuttering verse
Each has only one foot. Their other feet
stand elsewhere and apart, one in the sky the other on earth.
Those who cannot draw breath from poems
will sell Siddhicharn's feet for firewood
I put Siddhicharan's feet in front of a temple
I will put them at the entrance of a thatched hut in the village

Siddhicharan's hands have bloomed, and the hearts of teenage girls
extract perfume from these flowers they arrange in a vase
Siddhicharan's heart has spread as song
young women make love singing them

The two Siddhicharans come to my house
Their love poems to Rajnati concealed in their vest pocket
In their jacket pocket like a hanky
their new revolutionary verse proclaims itself

Two Siddhicharans came to my house
Bringing their eyes, they leave their heart outside
bringing their heart, they leave their eyes outside

Two Siddhicharans came to my house

*Siddicharan is the last name of a well-liked and respected Nepali poet, Siddicharan Shrestha

Translations by
Wayne Amtzis

Wayne Amtzis with the author