Shabdaguchha: Logo1 Shabdaguchha: Logo1

Poetry in English

Stanley H. Barkan


I’m one of those discontinued Americans.

I was born in the 20th century,
but my mind is in the 19th
and now it’s the 2lst.

I’m one of those discontinued Americans.

I still believe in the Constitution,
the Pledge of Allegiance,
the Statue of Liberty, and
“The Star Spangled Banner.”

Yes, I’m all for multiculturalism,
when it means the mix 
of the best of those cultures,
when it means the crossing over
of theirs with ours, ours with theirs.

An accommodation of the highest order.

I don’t believe in getting rid of the English language
to be replaced by the Babel of the many.
Surely they make a lovely mix,
adding to our nation of Immigrants.

But let’s keep the best of the bedrock of America
while accepting the best of the new.

I’m one of those discontinued Americans.

You’ll find me in the antique shops 
of SoHo, Chinatown, Little Italy, 
in New York, Boston, San Francisco.

I’m still here, 
I’m continuing,
and I’m not going away.

Long Island			

Michael Graves

			So, you love glamour of Russia,
			Great writers―
			Dostoevsky, Tolstoy,
			Utopian dream, resistance Hitler,
			Glasnost, perestroika, 				
			Historic moment,
			People like Phoenix.
			People Slav,
			Lengthen vowel
			Slav become slave
			People of Rus
			Born for czar
			And whip.
			In exile, my freedom.
			In homeland, you prison;
			Slave in parent house,
			Unemploy, depress,
			Take medication
			Depend upon parent
			Who drunkard and wiolent.
			Mother who addict and slut
			And you try fix.
			Who control marriage
			Father or whacko?
			Easy to guess.
			But in you sick mind
			No doctor can shrink
			Struggle for Kremlin
			Between Boris and Michael
			Just like you family
			Rule by force, terror, and guilt.
			Listen to reason.
			Nothing can rescue.				
			When you was drinking,
			Violence erupt.	
			Now you return
			Scene of the crime,	
			Gulag of life.				
			I was refusenik they never could break.
			Soon you be broken.
			True to high law
			Man must free.
			I build car secret garage—
			Drive like Cossack,
			With phony passport.
			Go where I want,
			Even U.S. So what
			If mafia member?
			You need  escape.
			You father soldier
			And drinking like crazy,
			Boss of you prison,
			And soon he destroy.

			New York

Sultan Catto

	(for Stanley H. Barkan)

Smell of stone and burned wood exist in poems,
walk into a bookstore, find a book I like,
there are a few copies. I began sticking my nose
into each of them, smelling the poems.

Shelve one then pick up the other,
trying to get the one I would feel closer to
unaware the owner is watching me,
get thrown out for seemingly doing something else.

Innocently I am led out the store
trying to explain to the bookstore’s owner
each book smells different, and he asks
if they also tasted different? I don’t know the answer.

I have been chewing my poems for months now,
getting to like the taste, putting olive oil
and some herbs over them, frying them at times
under the moonlight on my balcony,
rewriting them over and over until I get the right taste,
and sending them at the end to Stanley for a taste,
knowing the old master will tell me if they came out OK.

New Jersey

Bill Wolak


For a safe journey,
cast the shadow of black ant
across the sleeper’s eyelid
and whisper, “Be as careful
as the dark and endure like light.”


Soon after your lover has gazed into a hand mirror,
prick your right breast with a rose bush thorn.
Draw your lover’s body on the mirror with that thorn 
using three drops of your blood, and wait until it dries.
Then shatter the mirror against a bridge 
that crosses over water.
Bury all its pieces under a young oak tree.
For as long as the bridge and tree remain standing,
your lover will cling to you like daylight.

New Jersey

Yoshira Marbel


i walk the burning path 
paved with thorns of rejection 
rotten fruits of abuse 
and lies as deadly as the 
cherries in the dolls eyes that flourish 
the end sealed with miserable love 
key entrusted to one 
nonchalantly he crosses 
each day 
roses bloom 
rough sand turns to soft grass 
sweet apple trees 
scattered for miles 
and as his silhouette fades 
everything goes back to the way it was 
South Africa

Tanaya Choudhury


If at all my words live beyond me . . . 
You too will live in them . . . vibrant, radiant as ever
In all my minute joys . . . which left me and never came back
In all my pains . . . which I proudly won over
Yes you were there . . . very much there
Igniting my thoughts . . . helping me dream!

You lived in all my stories untold
In all those secrets . . . which my heart dared not share
In all my truth and lies . . . you were there
Hiding behind the dying sparkle of my eyes . . .
In all those elusive blissful moments . . . under the October sky
You stood there . . . still . . . unmoved . . . Inspiring . . .
Inspiring the rhythm of my heart
Creating music . . . unabated, unknown, unheard . . .

And my music played on . . . with your notes entwined
Instilling life to my loneliness . . .
Bringing back all those paper boats . . . which I set on sail once
Ah! The demons of complacence
I have overpowered them al l. . . have learnt to dream bigger
Than the dreams that kept me small

So I dream and pray . . .

If at all my music defies death . . .
And lives beyond me . . . pristine in its innocence
You too will live my dear . . . in all my words . . . in all my music
Radiant and vibrant as ever . . .


Shabdaguchha, an International Bilingual Poetry Journal, edited by Hassanal Abdullah