Old posts from dead sites

He sat on the balcony
trying to touch the fingers of the wind
playing with his hair
When the wind moved a flower
he would say it was a hand.
When lightning flashed across the sky
he would say it was a glance,
a smile that might have
left lips
to come and rest with him.

He sat on the balcony
trying to think of some people
to fill the empty seats around him.

— Wadih Sa’adeh
Translated from the Arabic by Anne Fairbairn


…many more here…

A Poem For The Two Of Us


I know,
it must be like that:
the two of us have never met,
although we keep searching for each other
because of her happiness
and my happiness.

Drunk rain whips and strikes,
wind pulls willows’ hair out.
Where am I going?
Which town should I stop by?

The day is spilled over opaque fields.
I’m dragging around two empty eyes
staring into faces of passerbys.
Who should I ask, hungry and wet,
why have we never met?

Or it already happened?
Missed a step?
Maybe she came all the way next to me.
But me,
stopped by a pub, bitter,
and she
not knowing – passed by.

I don’t know.
We’ve been around the world
in passion, crazy
and we missed each other for a step.

Yes, it must’ve been like that….

–Mika Antic



Life is all something from the beginning.
Yesterday and the day before don’t count tomorrow.
There are no two the same Fridays in the world,
two the same Sundays,
two the same Wednesdays.

What are disappointments for then?
If one love is – blank,
dreams are immediately different and nicer.
And when you are the saddest and bitter
you think of some new eyes
and realize that you are flying… you’re more beautifully flying.

Who has ever seen a boy suffer?
snoozing cranky and crying?
Every time, you must know again
to love better, to love stronger.
Not to find excuses.
Not to console yourself.
But to truly, all the way to the sky, smile.

There are no two the same Wednesdays in the world,
two the same Tuesdays,
two the same Fridays.
All new loves count differently.
We live, every time, from the beginning.
We live never to fall.
To be stronger after a storm.
And right now already, in your heart
a hundred golden stars can be heard.

–Mika Antic



I recognized you when snow was melting
melting, and a soft wind blowing
closeness of spring intoxicating my soul
intoxicating, so I cravingly inhale the air.

With gentleness I watched your footsteps trace
trace on white snow
and I knew that you would be dear to me
dear throughout my life.

I recognized you on a reverberant day
a drunk, fresh and soft day
I had a feeling I’d always known you
known though I just recognized you.

With gentleness I watched your footsteps trace
trace on white snow
and I knew that you would be dear to me
dear throughout my life.

I recognized you when ice was melting
ice, when spring breath is melting when
day is one moment rosy, one moment wistful
pale, when happiness and sadness collide.

With gentleness I watched your footsteps trace
trace on white snow
and I knew that you would be dear to me
dear throughout my life.

–Desanka Maksimovic



To someone stars are forbidden.
To someone wings or swallows,
I don’t forbid anything
everything that is not allowed is allowed.

I have only one request,
try not to grow
not an inch, in spite of everyone,
until the end of this poem.

In the song you live
freely, nicely and crazy
You can invent fantasize,
Do everything backwards.

In it, even the biggest miracle,
stops being a miracle,
because everything you wish for
when you close your eyes
— remains forever like that.

Get those childish spites out
bravely and wonderfully,
and lie to yourself,
everything that is not allowed is allowed.

And more than everything is allowed!
My only one: don’t grow
in spite of you and me
until the end of this song.

And every time they break you,
so you have to create a new dream,
don’t dream it in the dark,
run faster to the dawn,
at the doorstep of this song
so, wonderfully, fight.

And when you only blink,
and smile slowly
Count till ten,
and turn that into eternity
and everything that you think of with your eyes closed,
will stay like that always.

–Mika Antic

Love poem

(Ljubavna pesma)

You are my moment and my dream,
My glorious word within the sounds,
You are as beautiful as you are secret,
You are the truth as much as the lust.

Stay unreachable, silent and far,
For the dream of happiness is more than happiness itself.
Be a one time flame, as youth.
Let your shadow and echo be all to be remembered by.

The heart writes its history on a falling tear,
On an immense pain whereon love marks its target.
Truth is only the dreaming of the soul.
A kiss is the most beautiful meeting in the world.

You are the image of my apparition,
Your sunny décor knitted through my dream.
You were the fascination of my thought,
Symbol of all conceits, defeated and icy-cold.

But you don’t exist, nor have you ever done.
Born within my silence and despair,
From the Sun of my heart you were shining
Because everything we worship – we have created ourselves.

–Jovan Ducic


I seek amnesty
For the naïve
For those who believe
that all are equal,
poor and rich,
weak and strong,
the untired and the untiring prisoner,
the armless and the man with both arms,
the absolved and the man who has lost his faith,
the invited
and the one who waits at the door,
for them, for myself,
for everyone,
I seek amnesty.

–Desanka Maksimovic



It might be good to know this too:
we are desired only when we desire.
And if we give ourselves completely,
only then we can be complete.

We will find out, only when we say
words true, identical.
And only when we also search,
only then might someone meet us too.

–Mika Antic


Looking at human beings, and noticing our imperfections, is like looking at a painting by Rembrandt or Van Gough, and thinking, “this is rough — shouldn’t the brush work be smoother than that?”

What seems to be imperfection is really the touch of the Artist

It is the touch of our Creator. We are perfect in our humanity.

Here is one example: parenting.

‘Perfect’ parents are actually not the best parents; to be perfect as a parent can be quite harmful for children.

The children of ‘perfect’ parents — parents who are always calm, always right, who never make mistakes, who always do the right thing — often suffer terribly! Many of these kids end up with the worst psychological problems, as drug addicts or criminals.

We all know this is true: the children of pastors, ministers and the best Christians are much more likely to go wrong in life than other kids. It’s one of the great mysteries of life.

One family I knew — of wonderful Christians — had a son who became a teenage arsonist! And the son of a minister was one of the worst kids in our High School.

But the reason is so simple.

My eldest daughter has experienced a very imperfect father. He makes lots of mistakes, he is inconsistent, he gets angry, he gets sad, he is unreasonable, stubborn and stupid; he tries and he fails; he has to apologise a lot.

However, because of her father’s imperfections, she is developing a wonderful character.

She is finding goodness in herself. She is learning to love and forgive an imperfect man.

And she knows, in her heart, that perfection is not required or expected of her. She will model herself on this experience; and by loving, accepting and forgiving her father’s imperfections, she will learn to love, accept and forgive herself.

If her father was a perfect parent, she would feel intense pressure to live up to those standards — to be perfect herself — which of course is impossible.

My daughter might either try and meet those impossible standards, and could end up unhappy and filled with feelings of unworthiness, or (more likely, knowing her) she would decide to create her own standards — ones that she could meet — and choose an opposite life, perhaps one that would be damaging to her.

What we think of as perfection is not the best way to be, and not what God wants us to be. To be human, and no more than that, is true perfection.

It sounds crazy, but it’s true!

The way to know God is not to seek perfection, but to seek to be more human. That is one of my philosophies.

It’s not an original philosophy. This is ‘European Romanticism’: the philosophy of William Blake, Beethoven, Dostoyevski and others.

More Sufi poetry…

The one who tastes, knows

In love, nothing exists between heart and heart.
Speech is born out of longing,
True description from the real taste.
The one who tastes, knows;
the one who explains, lies.
How can you describe the true form of Something
In whose presence you are blotted out?
And in whose being you still exist?
And who lives as a sign for your journey?

— Rabia al-Adawiyya

What are you going to do with your ego?

Suppose you can recite a thousand holy
verses from memory.
What are you going to do
with your ego, the true
mark of the heretic?

— Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil Kheir – “Nobody, Son of Nobody”

To your mind

To your mind feed understanding,
to your heart, tolerance and compassion.
The simpler your life, the more meaningful.

— Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil Kheir – “Nobody, Son of Nobody”

Best forgotten

Those with no sense of honor and dignity are best avoided.
Those who change colors constantly
are best forgotten.

— Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil Kheir – “Nobody, Son of Nobody”

“The broken ones are my darlings”

Let sorrowful longing dwell in your heart,
never give up, never losing hope.
The Beloved says, “The broken ones are My darlings.”
Crush your heart, be broken.

— Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil Kheir – “Nobody, Son of Nobody”

Burn me in Hell

O Lord,
If I worship You
From fear of Hell, burn me in Hell.

O Lord,
If I worship You
From hope of Paradise, bar me from its gates.

But if I worship You for Yourself alone
Then grace me forever the splendor of Your Face.

— Rabia al-Adawiyya

More poems by Wadih Sa’adeh.


Wasting time,
he sketched a vase.
He drew a flower in the vase.
Perfume rose from the paper.
He drew a jug.
Having sipped a little water,
he poured some over the flower.
He drew a room
with a bed,
then he slept.
When he awoke
he drew an ocean,
a fathomless ocean,
which swept him away.

— Wadih Sa’adeh
translated by Anne Fairburn

The Dead Are Sleeping

They were innocent people.
They would caress their children’s hair in the dusk,
dropping off to sleep.

They were innocent, simple people,
sweating during the day and smiling.
On their way home they would pause before shop windows,
measuring with their eyes the size of children’s clothes,
then walk on.

They would take one step
in the early breath of dawn
to touch the tree trunks.
During January frosts,
while they were watching,
some branches would bear fruit.
Their scythes yearned for the fields,
the air in the village was waiting for their cries.
Suddenly their wheat became ribs,
the breeze and grass, rooted
in their bodies.

They were innocent, simple people.
Every evening the sun slid its silky mantle
over their souls.

— Wadih Sa’adeh
translated by Anne Fairburn


The last thing he saw
was the cat, seeing him off at the door.
He had locked the door but he returned
and unlocked it,
so neighbours could enter as always,
if they wished to do so.

— Wadih Sa’adeh
translated by Anne Fairburn

There’s a disconnect between the Middle East and the West: Wadih Sa’adeh is a highly regarded writer in Arabic, but in the West he’s almost unknown.

The poems above are from “A Secret sky”, a book of Wadih’s poems translated
from Arabic by Anne Fairburn. It’s a sad book, very gentle: about the war in Lebanon, the dead, the dispossessed and the refugees.

I met Wadih several times, at my friend, Fassih Keiso’s home. They would be drinking coffee, tea or Arak, speaking mostly Arabic. I would plunk away on the guitar, then we would converse in English for a while, then back to Arabic and plunking. It was all very relaxed and very normal, but special, too. He’s a very nice gentleman: extremely interesting and intelligent, with a deep, soft voice.

Sometimes you know people; you just think of them as people you like: it’s easy not to realise how special and precious moments are. You may feel a real bond of love or friendship with someone; spend time with them, that you enjoy very much; all the while living in the illusion that this is your normal life, that can be enjoyed at leisure, again and again.

Then, suddenly, maybe sometimes after the briefest of acquaintances, that phase of your life is cut short; gone forever.

The ironic thing is, during this time, we were discussing “The Secret Sky,” that had just been translated, and the theme of so many is the poems is just that: how life is full of seemingly ordinary moments are really something exquisite and rare, that at any time could be cut short, by death, disaster, or just …ordinary events. Then you look back, much later, and something that seemed so ordinary at the time you realise in distant hindsight, was something quite beautiful.


Life There

There she buried
her child, and waited
to lie beside him for years.
When finally
they lowered her down
into that soil,
She was only one day old
while he was already
an old man.

— Wadih Sa’adeh
Translated from the Arabic by Sargon Boulus

Night Visit

         They were telling their children about
the guardian angel of plants;
about a nightingale that had flown there at dawn
to sing in the mulberry tree above their window.
         They were telling them about the grapes
they would sell to buy new clothes.
About the special surprise the children
would find under their pillows at bedtime.
But some soldiers arrived,
stopped their stories,
leaving red splashes on the walls
         as they departed.

— Wadih Sa’adeh
Translated from the Arabic by Anne Fairbairn


         He was dead
but he could feel their fingers on his forehead.
They laid his body in the centre of the house
on a bed they had hired,
like the one he should have bought.
         They dressed him
in clothes like those he had seen in city shops.
When they carried him out to be buried,
he left something strange on the threshold.
After that, whenever they entered the house
they shivered without knowing why.

— Wadih Sa’adeh
Translated from the Arabic by Anne Fairbairn

Sufi poetry…

Love so needs to love

Love so needs to love
that it will endure almost anything, even abuse,
just to flicker for a moment. But the sky’s mouth is kind,
its song will never hurt you, for I sing those words.

— Jalal Al-Din Rumi

Come, Come, Whoever You Are

Come, come, whoever you are,
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow

a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.

— Jalal Al-Din Rumi

The whole world is a marketplace for Love

The whole world is a marketplace for Love,
For naught that is, from Love remains remote.
The Eternal Wisdom made all things in Love.
On Love they all depend, to Love all turn.
The earth, the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars
The center of their orbit find in Love.
By Love are all bewildered, stupefied,
Intoxicated by the Wine of Love.

From each, Love demands a mystic silence.
What do all seek so earnestly? ‘Tis Love.
Love is the subject of their inmost thoughts,
In Love no longer “Thou” and “I” exist,
For self has passed away in the Beloved.
Now will I draw aside the veil from Love,
And in the temple of mine inmost soul
Behold the Friend, Incomparable Love.
He who would know the secret of both worlds
Will find that the secret of them both is Love.

— Farid ud Din Attar

Two eyes wet with weeping

These spiritual window-shoppers,
idly ask, ‘How much is that?’ Oh, I’m just looking.
They handle a hundred items and put them down,
shadows with no capital.

What is spent is love and two eyes wet with weeping.

— Jalal Al-Din Rumi

Here I am

All night, a man called “God”
Until his lips were bleeding.
Then the Devil said, “Hey! Mr Gullible!
How comes you’ve been calling all night
And never once heard God say, ‘Here, I am’?
You call out so earnestly and, in reply, what?
I’ll tell you what. Nothing!”

The man suddenly felt empty and abandoned.
Depressed, he threw himself on the ground
And fell into a deep sleep.
In a dream, he met Abraham, who asked,
“Why are you regretting praising God?”

The man said, “I called and called
But God never replied, ‘Here I am.’ ”
Abraham explained, “God has said,
‘Your calling my name is My reply.
Your longing for Me is My message to you.
All your attempts to reach Me
Are in reality My attempts to reach you.
Your fear and love are a noose to catch Me.
In the silence surrounding every call of “God”
Waits a thousand replies of “Here I am.”

— Jalal Al-Din Rumi

Who is man

Who is man?
The reflection of the Eternal Light.

What is the world?
A wave on the Everlasting Sea.

How could the reflection be cut off from the Light?

How could the wave be separate from the Sea?

Know that this reflection and this wave are that very Light and Sea.

— Jami (1414-92) (Nur al-Din ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Ahmad al-Jami)

Pursuit of the Friend

The heart left,
and the Friend is also gone.
I don’t know whether I should go after the Friend
or after the heart!
A voice spoke to me:
“Go in pursuit of the Friend,
because the lover needs a heart
in order to find union with the Friend.
If there was no Friend,
what would the lover do with his heart?”

— Sheikh Ansari – Kashf al_Asrar

The path of Love

Piousness and the path of love
are two different roads.
Love is the fire that burns both belief
and non-belief.
Those who practice Love have neither
religion nor caste.

— Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil Kheir (Abu Sa’id ibn Ab’il Khair ) (967 – 1049)

Mere words

All that is left
to us by tradition
is mere words.

It is up to us
to find out what they mean.

— Muhammed Ibn ‘Ali Ibn ‘Arabi (1165 – 1240 AD)

My master taught me no other letter

There is nothing on the tablet of my heart but my love’s tall alif.
What can I do? My master taught me no other letter.

Wipe the tears from Hafiz’s face with soft curls
or else this endless torrent will uproot me.

— Hafiz of Shiraz (1230-91)

The Puzzle

Someone who keeps aloof from suffering
is not a lover. I choose your love
above all else. As for wealth
if that comes, or goes, so be it.
Wealth and love inhabit separate worlds.

— Abû’l-Majd Majdûd b. Adam Sanâ’î (1118-1152)

The Friend Beside Me

You know why I am happy:
It is because I seek Your company,
not through my own efforts.

You decided and I did not.
I found the Friend beside me
when I woke up!

— Sheikh Ansari – Kashf al_Asrar

This Marriage

May these vows and this marriage be blessed.
May it be sweet milk,
this marriage, like wine and halvah.
May this marriage offer fruit and shade
like the date palm.
May this marriage be full of laughter,
our every day a day in paradise.
May this marriage be a sign of compassion,
a seal of happiness here and hereafter.
May this marriage have a fair face and a good name,
an omen as welcomes the moon in a clear blue sky.
I am out of words to describe
how spirit mingles in this marriage.

— Kulliyat-i-Shams 2667

It makes absolutely no difference

Start a huge, foolish project,
like Noah.

It makes absolutely no difference
what people think of you.

— Jalal Al-Din Rumi

Next Page »