OLD HAND

What's worth a whole life's devotion?
That thing we call life slowly melts away
Roaming or staying stone-still, no matter
That thing we call life slowly blows away

Your heart trembles when the doorbell rings
In the hush of your breeze they detect tricks
Name tags are fitted inside an iron crate
That thing we call human is slowly flaked away

While they only see the surface, you see within
The ones who left first didn’t return at last
The blind rivulets of the day of parting
That thing we call the river flows

What’s worth a whole life’s devotion?
Is it money, or honor, so many thorny paths
Or is it clutching to seize the very root of the tree
That thing we call a leaf strives to break free

THEY WHO DIE WHERE THEY WERE BORN

Passing through a town beside the moor
Coffee houses on both sides of the dusty road
With such quiet, such stillness
Their eyes on the buses flying by
They who die where they were born

Hot afternoons, sleepy blood
The cool that rises from bottomless wells
Leaks from the cold water jugs
The sun leans down, in a moment is gone
And swaying lanterns in the night
They never have any complaints
They who die where they are born

In a village in the middle of nowhere
A twig-thin girl, buried under snow
Fated to the village like the Munzur mountains
The laughter beside the water fountain

For them, the earth doesn’t go round
They’re ignorant of road-weariness
Their voices echo forever off the same rocks
In the same time zone
To South China in their daydreams go
Those who die where they were born

YOUR EYES A SCREAM

There, where dreams flare and burn out
We will meet one afternoon, you and I
On my lips careless songs, a half-sung melody
Taking shelter, taking shelter one night in your eyes

Your eyes a scream, a wounded cry
Your eyes, tonight, a faraway ship passing by

One night in a forest buried beneath snow
You and I will run like children, giddy and lost
Finding your hand in mine, then losing it
Taking shelter one night in your hands

Your hands, a pair of seagulls, fluttering and shy
The white sail of your hands billowing in the breeze

Leaving a city behind, thus it happens
In your head a thousand worries, a thousand questions
On your lips an unfinished song, a half-sung melody
A lifetime spent taking shelter, taking shelter in songs

IF ONLY I HAD A SAILBOAT

If I only had a sailboat
I would cast off for the open sea
Backed by the wind
Beyond the horizon

If I only had a sailboat
I would cruise the world over
I would call at ports far away
And be one with the waves
The sirens would beckon me
To those alien reefs

But there are none really
The seas aren’t really there
The only journeys are those in your dreams
And there’s no way out, never
The cities won’t release you, ever
No one will hear your screams

WHO ARE WE?

Written for Mikis Theodorakis
(Zorba the Greek)

You re-gather in Ephesus
The hair a Cretan wind swept away
Rising like the ocean
Overflowing like mount Olympus
My friend Mikis
Tell me, who are we?

Between war, death and famine
Prison cell and exile
From our days lined up like strung beads
You surge like a wild waterfall
My friend MikisTell me, who are we?

From lives given to upholding
The truest meaning of words
And from the myrtles’ resinous fragrance
You compose your full-hearted songs
My friend Mikis
Well, then, tell me, who are we?

Why were we called, to pour salt
Over wounds left by love and death?
Or rather to plunge into the phosphorescent sea,
And bring up pearls for our beloved’s shy neck?My friend Mikis
Tell me, who are we?
Who are we truly?

MY LOVE-STRICKEN MIND

Oh my love-stricken mind
Oh my poet’s rashness
Oh my drunkenness
Oh my wild heart
Be quiet now, leave me in peace

How many oceans like this one have I crossed
In how many seas found myself lost
With masts shattered and tattered sails
How many journeys have left me drained

Oh my wounded soul
Oh my human flaw
Oh my rebellions, oh solitudes
Come now, leave me in peace

Oh my bright side
Oh my gullibility
Oh my quarrels, oh regrets
Be quiet now, leave me in peace

THE ISLAND

From a shoreline I gazed on the world
On my hands salt, in my palms pearls
A blueness, an openness, the yearning for freedom strikes my heart
Where are all the people, where are they?

That sadness comes from nowhere
On rainy days I’ll rebuild the world
Through sufffering and pain
Isn’t anybody in this city in love?

The air, the seagulls
The city of lights
The odor of seaweed intoxicates me
I want to embrace—with no tricks—
The world, you, and the city

Beauty will save the world
Loving one person will begin all thiS

WHAT YOUR BROTHER WON'T HEAR

They stay quiet, they hope to smother your voice
Your glass heart is only half-complete, broken
In the night echoing screams
What your brother won’t hear a stranger will

The barriers multiply, you stride through them
Your heart lifts you and bears you away
Beyond the sand in the wake of so many floods
What your brother won’t hear a stranger will

Don’t fall to pieces when you see these things
Don’t give up hope and cause yourself pain
Summon a new “hello” to enter your heart
What your brother won’t hear a stranger will

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