A Moist Shoulder in Cabaret


    Petraq Risto

    Petraq Risto

    The poet and novelist Petraq Risto is one of the most important and prolific voices in Albania.

    Petraq has authored twenty books of poetry, novels and short stories, and has been the recipient of many prestigious awards in poetry.

    Risto’s poetry has been praised by literary critics nationally and internationally for their individuality, sincerity, spontaneity, and universal themes. The literary world in France, Mexico, Romania and USA has recently recognized Risto’s poetic genius. In February 2009, the renown French publishing house L’Harmattanprinted a collection of a hundred poems by Petraq Risto entitled Amer Est le Miel des Tombes. In Mexico, Geiser & Toshkaprinted the poetry collection El guardián de las Golondrinas. Many of Risto’s poems have appeared in prestigious literary journals in the United States.

    Risto is recognized for the unique treatment of his subjects and the rich and metaphorical language in the likeness of the magic realism school, which suits the agitated Peninsula of the Balkans. The most valued of Risto’s poetry editions are:

    Wake Up my Princess

    AppleDeflowered by Thunderbolts

    Chess Match in the XXI Century

    Hallelulja!

    The Reader of Lips: Ar + Sy + Eja

    Petraq Risto was born in Durrës, Albania, on June 9th1952. He graduated from the University of Political-Juridical Sciences for Journalism, and from the Academy of Beautiful Arts for Theater Criticism.

    Currently he is the president of the Globus R.publishing house in Tirana.

    Song of Songs 1: Return the Pawn

    No, I am not mistaken: there, at dusk

    gods secretly

    melt their gold

    to dress with it goddesses and prostitutes

    and if some gold remains they think about seas and mountains.

    The gods of dusk seduce the poppies to shamelessly rub

    against the ear-wheat,

    they sprinkle a little gold a little silver on your body

    on your crimson lips, your nose – a hill that separates two lakes of light.

    No, I am not mistaken.

    But you, return the pawn before sunset!

    Do not pawn the gold, nor the millstone,

    Do not pawn the well, quench the thirst of the world!

    I am not mistaken, of course I am not mistaken.

    Love is a breeze, it does not esteem the shackles that

    the rose hides in its golden buds.

    I am not mistaken, by no means am I mistaken

    each one is punished for his own sin

    the scale is like the eyes on a face:

    weigh the dusk of the immoral gods,

    the poppies shamelessly rubbing against the ear-wheat

    weigh me also as I come, as I gently sway

    although an hour has passed since I left my ship

    and earth, strangely enough, has no waves.

    New York Without Swallows

    No swallows in New York

    how come there are no swallows!?

    New York’s sky is cold

    swallows have built no nests

    under the armpits of sky-scrapers…

    I open the dictionary to find the word swallow

    I find somewhere a tiny nest with little mud and grass.

    Next time on an airplane I will bring swallows

    to Manhattan in my pockets I will carry them

    even if I may seem crazy

    even if I may seem strange

    just so New York can get used

    to the surprise of swallows.

    * * *

    A ripe blackberry:

    Othello facing Desdemona

    in the hand scene bleeds.

    The Hunt of the Sea Horses

    Sea horses do not know:

    when turned to medicine they cost millions.

    The sick are cured with them,

    they often feel the sound of waves

    kindle their veins like a muffled trot.

    When night falls, they moan:

    “the moon pulls us like seas in high tide

    and we fear death…”

    Compelled through their radiology,

    doctors discover hearts transformed into coral islands

    where tired sea horses rest.

    Oratorio to Bees

    The queen bee fed with the milk of a queen

    lives five times longer than the other bees

    and its giant sting is a cosmic rocket in the bee galaxies.

    Flowers bow their heads even when they are not visited by her

    and in the absence of sex they paint petals

    in sunlit orgasms.

    Very festive the bees at the time of reproduction

    people imitate them.

    This nature that dies daily inhaling the hate of dust – the bees say

    and this queen with the yellow of autumn on her Hiroshima wings – the bees say

    these tragic flowers in the game with roots – I say

    and these weary people that try to laugh in exchange of defeat – I say

    this round world, a breast just incised by the atomic scalpel – I and the bees say

    everything is a honeyed hope – I and the bees say.

    To the bees’ small eyes

    the honeycombs are pentagons – I say

    but sadly we don’t know the angles of lies – the bees say.

    The bee came from Baghdad1

    sipped nectar from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

    The queens lecture in the evenings

    when tired bees drowse inside their honeycombs.

    Step lightly on the blue-bells,

    their sound will awaken the hungry bears

    The bee came from Baghdad

    Be cautious with the red roses for you will injure the dead

    The bee came from Baghdad

    Be cautious with the yellow roses for you will drive jealous the mad

    Never injure the white roses!

    Ah, the white roses!

    When you pass by the chrysanthemums, whisper words of love

    and leave behind a drop of milk for the glorious dead.

    If someone touches you, turn into kamikazes,

    then pray that death finds you at peace.

    The bee came from Baghdad

    Before closing your eyes,

    take a white rose petal as a shroud

    I will come read you the Bible of Honey

    written with letters of Poison…

    Ah, the white roses!

    A MoistShoulder in Cabaret

    A moist shoulder in Cabaret, a step of magic:

    it sends you down the underground

    it sends you up above the ground.

    a moist shoulder in Cabaret us in purgatory inebriates.

    this wooden Cabaret at dusk – what a strange musical instrument!

    A moist shoulder in Cabaret...ah, the eye can’t hide the light

    and wine becomes a flame – that heats up

    the burning hell, and kindles the drunk Paradise.

    Oh, wooden Cabaret at dusk, if not a guitar, what the devil are you...

    in purgatory the pitiful men cannot be lied to.

    only a moist shoulder in Cabaret...

    sends us down the underground

    sends us up above the ground.

    © Petraq Risto

    Translated by Sidorela Risto


    1verse from the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet


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