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POETRY

poems of the month

fish

vagabondage

measuring my face

ostracism

old clothes

modern iranian poems

my hero

face at the bottom of the world

perhaps (maybe)

the diogenes sequence

where to store furs

i am and am not:
      fragments of rumi

destiny and destination

the zen of no-enlightenment

the iraqi monologues

already backwards

a light in ruins

separate amputations

the sexy jihad

awaiting the barbarians

the smell of possibilities

ultimate leaves

rejoice in the dog

post-millennium maggot

the book of nothing

confession from belgrade

dispatches from the war against the world

albanian poems

french poems in honour of jean genet

the hells going on

the joy of suicide

book disease

foreground trouble

the transcendental hotel

cinema of the blind

lament of the earth mother

uranian poems

haikai by okami

haikai on the edge

black hole of your heart

jung's motel

leda and the swan

gloss on rilke's ninth duino elegy

jewels and shit:
poems by rimbaud

villon's dialogue with his heart

vasko popa: a shepherd of wolves ?

the rubáiyát of
omar khayyám

genrikh sapgir:
an ironic mystic

the love of pierre de ronsard

imagepoem

the rich man and the leper

 

TRANSLATIONS

 

 

BETWEEN POETRY AND PROSE

the maxims of michel de montaigne

400
revolutionary maxims

nice men and
suicide of an alien

anti-fairy tales

the most terrible event in history

 

SHORT STORIES

godpieces

the three bears

three albanian tales

odorous underwear

a little creation story

 

ESSAYS & MEMOIRS

a curious and peculiar
kind of queer

the ivory palace

helen's tower

schopenhauer for muthafuckas

after a first cataract operation

single track in the snow

never a pygmy

against money

did franco die ?

'original sin' followed by
crippled consciousness

a gay man's guide to soft-willy sex

the holosensual alternative

tiger wine

the death of poetry

the absinthe drinker

with mrs dalloway in ukraine

love  and  hell

running on emptiness

a holocaust near you

happiness

londons of the mind &
dealing death to the caspian

genocide

a muezzin from the tower of darkness

kegan and kagan

a holy dog and a
dog-headed saint

an albanian ikon

being or television

satan in the groin

womb of half-fogged mirrors

tourism and terrorism

diogenes
the dog from sinope

shoplifting

this sorry scheme of things

the bektashi dervishes

combatting normality

fools for nothingness:
atheists & saints

death of a bestseller

vacuum of desire: a homo-erotic correspondence

a note on beards

translation and the oulipo

the visit

 

PHOTOGRAPHS

prelude

 

Nuadú, God of War

field guide to megalithic ireland

megalith of the month

houses for the dead

ireland and the phallic continuum

irish cross-pillars

irish sweathouses

the sheela-na-gig conundrum

french megaliths

 

'western values'

 

rumi and nietzsche

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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RUMInations

 

Translations of
and Glosses on
Verses by

 

Mawlana Jalal ad-Din Muhammad
Rumi

 

'A human is a ghost composed of pain and inattention.'

 

 

 

WHATS & WHATEVERS

What was said to the rose to make it unbud
was said to me here in my heart.

What was told to the cypress to make it grow strong
and straight as a pencil,

what was whispered to jasmine to give it its scent,

whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever

blessed the Turkoman people of Chigil
with beauty and elegance,

whatever permits the petal of pomegranate to blush
like a human
has entered me now.

I blush. That which adds beauty to language
is passing through me.

Great doors open. I fill up with gratitude,
suck sugarcane,
ever in love with the One who bestows
these whats and whatevers to all!

 

 

The Lovers

will drink wine night and day,
will drink until they can wash away
the veils of intellect and
shame and modesty.
With this Love,
body, mind, heart and soul and pain
do not exist. If your Love is unconditional like this
you cannot be separate again.

 

 

THIS WORLD WHICH IS MADE OF OUR LOVE FOR THE EMPTINESS

Praise to the void that cancels existence! Existence:
this place which is made from our love of the vacuous!

Emptiness comes,
existence goes.

Praise to that process!
For years I pulled my existence out of the emptiness.

Then with one massive effort,
I stopped that repetitiveness,

and was free from who I was, free from presentness, fear, hope,
desire (for hope is pale shades of desire).

The here-and-now mountain of seeming
is just husk blown off into emptiness.

These words I'm saying too many of start to lose meaning:
existence, emptiness, mountain, husk.

Words and what they try to say fly
out of the window, off with the wind.

 

 

Come, come, whoever you are -

wonderer, worshipper, wanderer, lover of leaving,
whatever you are.
This is no caravan of despair.

Come - even if you have failed
and dropped out dozens of times -

Come on, try again, come.

 

 

'NOBODY'

says it correctly.
What is Paradise
but nothingness ?

The religion and doctrine of Lovers is
void,
emptiness,
non-existence.

 

 

THE SPIRITUAL TOURISTS

who idly ask: How much is that?
...Oh, I'm just looking,

pick up a hundred items and put them down.
They are shadows without substance.

What is spent is Love
and two eyes wet with weeping.
But tourists walk into a souk,
and their whole lives
suddenly evaporate.

Where did you go? Nowhere.
What did you eat? Nothing much.

Even if you don't know what you want,
buy something, to be part of the come and go.

Even start a vast, insane project like Noah did,
for it makes absolutely no difference
what people think of you. Just flow.

 

 

I died from minerality and turned vegetable

and from vegetableness I died and then turned animal.
I died from animality and became a man.

Then why fear disappearance by death?

Next time I die
I'll sprout wings like those of angels;

then, after that, soaring higher than mere angels -
what you cannot imagine -
that's what I'll be.

 

 

Soul receives from soul the knowledge, not by book

and not from tongue, and not through art

If the knowledge comes out of silence of the mind, this is
the illumination of the heart.

 

 

I said: 'You're very harsh.'

'But,' He answered,

'My harshness comes from goodness,
not from rancour, not from spite.

I strike down those who enter saying, "I..." -
for this is Love's tabernacle, not a cocktail party.

Rub your eyes...behold the image of your heart!'

 

 

I AM AND AM NOT

I'm swimming
in the flood
which has yet to come

I'm shackled
in the prison
which has yet to be built

I am the checkmate
in a future game of chess

I'm drunk with your wine
which remains untasted

I'm slain on a battlefield
of long ago

I don't
know the difference
between idea and reality

Like a shadow
I am
and am not.

 

 

O Giver of life, release me from Reason

that it might depart and flit
from vanity to vanity.
Break open my skull, pour in the wine of madness.
Let me be mad as You are; mad with You, mad with life.
Beyond the commonsense of the conventional
and respectable sanity
and the information-infection
a desert burns white-hot
where Your dervish-sun whirls in every particle of light -

O Lord, drag me there, let me roast in Perfection!

 

 

God has given us a dark wine

so strong that,
drinking it, we leave both worlds.

God has put into hashish a great power
to free the taker of the consciousness of self.

God has made sleep so
that it stops us thinking.

There are thousands of wines
that can overpower our minds.

Don't think all ecstasies
are similar.

Every object, every being,
is a wine-jar of delight.

Be a connoisseur,
taste with caution:
any wine will make you drunk.

Judge like a king, and choose the best,
the ones unadulterated with fear of what folk say,
or some contingent "duty" or "necessity."

Drink the wine that makes your soul float,
moves you
as a camel moves when it's been untied,

and is just ambling about - loafing, if you like.

 

 

A sober intellectual

hasn't a clue
how the alcoholic feels.

So we shouldn't waste our time
trying to work out
what those lost within love
will do next...

 

 

THE TENT

Outside: the freezing desert night.
Another night inside gets warmer, illuminating me.
Though the earth be covered with impenetrable thorns
In here there is a green and gentle meadow.

When the continents are devastated -
cities, towns and everything between
scorched and blackened -

the only news is future full of grief -
while inside me there is no news at all.

This is our intimacy, my beloved friend*:
anywhere you put your foot,
feel me in the firmness under it.

How is it, soul-mate, that
I see your world and don't see you ?

Listen to the whispers inside poems,
follow their intimate suggestions

and never leave their premises.



*His beloved mentor Shams-i-Tabrizi with whom he shared two years of his life.

 

Shams-i-Tabrizi

 

Jalal-ud-Din Rumi was known in Persia and Afghanistan as Jalal-ud-Din Balkhi - because he was born (1207) in Balkh, where Omar Khayyám was educated nearly 200 years earlier.
When he was about 10 years old his scholar father fled with his family the advancing Mongols via Baghdad, Mecca and Damascus, to Konya in Anatolia (known as Rum
because it had recently been part of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.).

Rumi's mystical poetry was of course written to be read aloud,
and in various attractive metres which cannot be rendered into English.

 

A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

Suddenly
and unexpectedly
the Guest arrived...

Hearts beat faster
"Who's there?"
And Soul replied
"The Moon..."

He came into the house
as we lunatics
ran into the street
looking
for the moon.

Then
from inside the house
he cried out
"Here I am!"
and we
beyond earshot
ran around
calling him,
crying for him,
for the ecstatic nightingale
locked lamenting
in our garden
while we
mourning doves
muttered "Where,
where...?"

- as if at midnight
the ex-sleepers upright
in their beds
hearing a thief
break into the house
in the darkness
stumbled about
crying "A thief! A thief!"
but the burglar himself
mingles in the confusion
echoing their cries:
"...a thief!"
till all cries
become the same cry.

 

 

And He is with you   [Qur'an 4:57]

with you
in your search.
When you seek Him,
look for Him
in your looking

closer to you
than yourself

- why run outside?
Melt like snow
into yourself.
Wash yourself
with yourself !

Sprouted by Love
tongues rise
from the soul
like stamens

But let the flower
teach you
to silence
your tongue.


(adapted from a translation by
Hakim Bey
alias Peter Lamborn Wilson)

 

 

A NEW RULE

As a rule, drunks fall on each other,
quarrelling, violent, making a scene.
The Lover is even worse than the drunkard!

Let me tell you what Love is:
to descend into a Goldmine!
And what is the Gold you find ?

The Lover is King above all kings,
unafraid of death, disdaining a crown.
The holy man has a Pearl invisible beneath his rags,
so why should he go begging from door to door?

Last night the moon came along, drunk
and dropping clothes in the street.
"Get up," I told my heart, "Give the soul a glass of wine.
The moment has come to join the nightingale in the garden,
to sip honey with the soul-parrot."

I have fallen - my heart shattered -
where else but in your path ? And I
broke your bowl, my amazing mentor, because I was
out of my head.
Don't let me be harmed, hold my hand!

A new rule, a new law has been born:
Break all the glasses and beat up the glassblower!


(based on
a translation by
Kabir Helminski, in
Love is a Stranger,
Threshold Books, 1993)

 

 

POEMS AND FRAGMENTS AFTER RUMI

What makes the Sufi?
Not the patched robe,
nor beard, nor doctrine,
not gentle dissidence,
nor doing good,
nor being good apart,
nor even
generosity in poverty -
but the rarest quality:
Purity of Heart.

 

 

AFTER LINES BY RUMI ON THE DEATH
OF HIS BELOVED MENTOR
SHAMS-I-TABRIZI

You got tired of
variable wines
and left the tavern for
the tavern of Eternity.
You joined the Sun*
and gave up wanting to be
somebody
You flew towards
thankfulness:
that infinite around us.

Talking is pain. Rest no more
in mine, but in the
bosom of eternity.


[*Shams means 'sun', and derives from the Akkadian name for the sun-god: Shamash.
Shams was with Rumi in Konya off and on for 2 years until he disappeared,
possibly murdered by jealous pupils of Rumi.]


 

Way beyond notions
of right and wrong
beyond the throng
and oceans
of humanity there
is a meadow
on an island, where
I'll meet you.
Meet you there!


 

WHO IS IT SAYING THE WORDS
THAT MY MOUTH SAYS ?

All day I ponder.
At night, alone with wine
and music, scent of roses,
I wonder
What am I doing here ?
I've no idea! My heart is from
somewhere
else - I'm quite sure -
and I surely intend
to return there.

This drunkenness started
somewhere else, also,
and when I get back I'll be
very sober. Meanwhile
I'm a bird in a cage made of
poems. I'll break out!

Who is it in my ear, who is listening ?
Who is it typing the words that you can't
pay attention to,
and sending them out on the internet ?

Whom do my eyes belong to ?
What's the true nature of longing ?
If I could taste one drop of an answer
I'd crack open this cage,
this trap of bemusement.
I didn't walk myself into it,
whoever pushed me in
will get me back
just a bit wiser.
But so what ?

This poetry: I never know
what I am going to say,
until I have said it.
And after I've typed it out
I stammer banalities,
catch myself on

and say nothing.

 

 

Part of a load
not rightly balanced
I drop off into grass,
to fail where I may fall,
and turn to earth -
and that is all,
all that will come to pass.

 

 

The eternal ocean
has offered you so much -
and you call it Death!

 

 

A KIND OF KISS

There is a kind of kiss that
our very existence lacks:
the absorption of spirit
through flesh into mind.

Seawater
induces the oyster to open,
and the lilies adore
the sheer wildness of wind.

At night, I leap out of bed
and throw wide the window and ask
the old moon to come and press its

young face against mine: breathe into
me, moon-face.
So I close the thought-door

and open the kiss-window. Moons
(be they made of green cheese or of lead)
don't like doors, only windows.

The quick route to wisdom
is to cut off your head.

 

 

RUMI IN THE 21st (late 14th) CENTURY

If anyone unaccountably asks you
what is the sign of perfect sexual satisfaction
just sniff his armpit.
(Only a man would ask that question.)

If anyone wants to know what soul is,
or 'God's blessing', just
incline your head toward that anyone,
and feel one face with another.

Last night the Medium turned over and slept
his deep, noisy sleep. That was his message.
Tonight he turns,
tosses and turns. And I cough,
clear my throat,
and pronounce, farouchely:
"We'll be together
till Absolute Entropy!"
He mumbles back thoughts that occurred to him
when he was out of his head.
He is a Master.

The Thinker is always displaying,
the Lover is always losing his way.
The Thinker backs off,
afraid of getting lost.

The whole point of Love
is to get lost.

And who is this 'Lover' I keep on about ?
He or she is a person who feels bad
when trees and dogs
and even lice are suffering.

And what is 'Love' ?
Is it Truth, 'Allah, Desire-for-Perfection ?
None of them!
It is Harmony -
harmony with Entropy.

But aren't we all in harmony
with Entropy -
especially when we think we are not ?

 

 

No matter how fast you run,
(provided that the sky is blue)
your shadow doesn't just keep up
but sometimes runs in front of you.

Only at midday can the sun
reduce your shadow, which
fades completely when
the sky is overcast, and light
is lightly tempered by the darkness,
and sharp contrast is put to flight.

 

 

O Rumi!

O Rumi,
you wrote such a lot!
'The Raw comprehend not the state of the Ripe',
you wrote.
So why did you keep on writing ? The Raw
keep their rawness,

and not even the greatest art will heal
or transform, nor even improve them
- albeit made by a Person who tried
and did not fail to transform.

A pain-making ghost
made not of pain
but desire and distraction -
that is a Person so-called;

but we are all - even you and the Prophets -
Unpersons,
rents in the fabric.

And mere words will not ever
develop us into Persons.

 

by Anthony Weir

 

after Rumi

O tongue, you are a chattering disease -
and all our selves are shrivelled worms
dropping down from blighted trees.

 

by Anthony Weir

 

MEDITATION ON LINES BY RUMI

Cities, towns and everything between
scorched and blackened, devastated -

the only news is future full of grief -
while inside me there is no news at all
just in-fancy.

Flies love shit and corpses,
drown in milk.
Life is shit.
We are conceited flies
breeding in blood.
Milk is mystery.
The less I do
the happier I am.

2016

Download a 40-minute discussion on Rumi's poetry from the BBC >


Some excellent translations of Rumi >

 

homosensuality

 

Read my gloss on a famous poem by Hafiz >


the rubáiyát of omar khayyám >

 

modern persian poems top of page
combat normality