Feminine Energy and Passion

Mimoza Ahmeti
Mimoza Ahmeti, 2002. Photo: Robert Elsie

13 poems

Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie and Janice Mathie-Heck

Mimoza Ahmeti from Kruja is one of the 'enfants terribles' of the nineties, who set about to expand the horizons and explore the possibilities offered to her by her own senses. Dragging the nation, in her idiosyncratic manner, along the bumpy road to Europe, she has managed in recent years to provoke Albania's impoverished and weary society into much needed reflection which, with time, may lead to new and more sincerely human values. After two volumes of verse in the late eighties, it was the fifty-three poems in the collection Delirium (Delirium), Tirana 1994, which caught the public's attention. Mimoza Ahmeti's poetry has been well received by the new generation of readers in tune, for the first time, with Western culture. Her candid expressions of wide-eyed feminine desire and indulgence in sensual pleasures, and the crystalline fluidity of her language have already made of her a modern classic. The traditional polarization of male and female verse would seem to dissolve under the passionate force of her quill.

Senses, Senses

Senses, oh my first victims,
You are open again, you are sucking again, cleansed
You return to life.
Your brain is using you like a devil,
Tempted by a crime immune to law.
Senses, oh my sacred victims,
So it is again tonight,
(Oh Lord, how lovely you are when you are lucid)
You draw and suck, but find no fulfilment.
Nothing responds to you, nothing belongs to you,
And still, my dear, you must deliver.
But tonight, though willing to deliver, no one waits for you,
No one wants you, oh my senses.
And the brain, that magic devil,
Is now weeping.
Such a pity
To see a devil weep!

[Shqisë, shqisë, from the volume Delirium, Tirana: Marin Barleti, 1994, p.5]

Wretched Notions

Wretched notions
In a solitary space you composed,
I cross inertia in your company,
Into my space composed of me,
As into a town from which all have just fled
With an absolute conviction of no-return
(something which, I know, is unlikely to happen.)

Wretched notions
Poised in the air, beyond any relevance,
For the miserable and magnificent reason
That I no longer have senses.

[Nocione të shkreta, from the volume Delirium, Tirana: Marin Barleti, 1994, p.6]

My Foe

My foe,
Often you have insulted me in the most subtle way,
Often I have insulted you in the most shallow way,
My foe.
But what would my life be like without you
And what would yours be like without me?
Who knows?
(Where there are no more conditions,
Being comes to an end).

Foe. My foe!
Because of you I followed the tracks
And understood what I was seeing.
Because of you my substance revived, awakened,
Swore allegiance,
Was overwhelmed,
When death nailed our souls.
Oh, yes indeed, you are what I love
Not what I hate,
My foe.

Precisely those ones
Whom we despised
When we were out in the streets,
Whom we never knew,
Whom we never took account of:

Streaming about ineptly,
Huffing and puffing
In ignorance,
Left their mark
On your soul,
On mine.
They are the cause
Of our mutual aggression.

Oh, that day when we killed each other,
When we saw each other for the last time,
The day when I got the upper hand
And won (perhaps),
Your face
Was so terrible, beautiful, dead,
As never before.
And I don't know how life ties its knots,
But it does...

[Armiku im, from the volume Delirium, Tirana: Marin Barleti, 1994, p.7]

It's Obvious You're an Ass

A face, once attractive, now damaged,
In your features I encounter the death they caused you,
In the women you lost, whom you left, who fled from you
In order to survive somewhere
On emotional alms.

A face, attractive even today, despite all the destruction, doubt,
A body you drag around and conceal in an accursed land.
Giant proportions and pitiful at the same time.
A ring in your ear - something to give meaning to the absurdity.
Every day you gamble some of the quality of a star, you wane in the sands,
Every night you gain some of the immortality of death.
Oh, now that you are expiring, while you are still dying,
You hurl terrible tentacles of sickly silence into the air ...
With a flick of your whip you catch, pull in, entangle,
With sterile lips, the senseless body.

I have often encountered the traces of your dissipation, your dissolution,
Your indirect manner of expression, of pollution,
Furtiveness, sophistry, fickleness, inexistence,

Of that inconstancy on which nothing can be constructed.
Luxurious feelings, destructive in their essence,
Claw like cats at the breasts of abandoned women.
An attractive soul led astray, you continue to err,
You know how to behave, but there is no moral in your soul.
I am yours, you have me, as you always had,
Support, breath, path out of a blind alley,
But you don't understand because you're an ass
And this is why
I love you
So terribly.

[Që ti je gomar, kjo është diçka që duket, from the volume Delirium, Tirana: Marin Barleti, 1994, p.9]

In the Mire of Existence, the Stars

Are the names of kings, merchants and diplomats
Once again to be imposed on memory?
Oh, this mad history will not succeed in arousing
The slightest feelings among the generations.
I know: love of the past, of ancestors,
Will ever end in arrogance,
As long as regents strive to mark our memories.

Look, here in the mire
An extemporaneous being has been born,
After it, another and then another,
New stars in the desolate human sky,
Perfect like miracles,
Rare, like them,
Young, so terribly young
Have they emerged from ancient plasma.

On the road, in the murk of existence, the stars go their way,
Even Jesus Christ shrinks
At their terrestrial splendour.
"Oh, and the last one of them
Shall surely be the first!"
Those eyes, lips, metallic arms,
Those muscles radiating force and heat,
Those legs wading and advancing through the muck,
Shoulders spiralling bronze-like in the face of death,
In an upsurge of energy, passion and sex,
When, from the act, the exhausted soul is revived...
Oh, those hands,
The wisdom of the brain and the heart is written
In those hands.
Rain, the incessant deluge of exhaustion
emptyemptyemptyand storm,
Skulls which protrude from the skin,
Zygomatic pates of new-born stars,
Music of eyes, astonishment..
The collapse into bed, delirious sleep, lashed
By disturbing dreams, unreal, glaring,
A thousand times truer and more real
emptyemptyemptythan daylight.

The first glow of the sun, freedom, nudity,
Then sorrow, like the return of an overcast sky
Bringing nighttime ever so swiftly to our eyes.
The desire to vanish, depart, commit suicide,
That venom nourishing the senses: solitude,
Inadaptability, illness, alienation's vomit,
Scandal, divorce, the flagrancy of these stars,
Oh, will they be remembered, forgotten, despised, or praised?
Their pride, their scorn, the exhibitionist cult
Of a nature which ideally decomposes within them.
The human offence which they master:
Injured mouth, cracked lips, re-acquaintance, reseparation ,
"FAREWELL," like a battered bird
Which seeks out the cliffs to perish.

Another day
Is reborn in the blind conviction that life is nigh,
Another day, you love her terribly and terribly
emptyemptyemptyshe loves you.

All of this is History,
All of this, the phenomena of Life.

[Në llumin ekzistencial, yjet, from the volume Delirium, Tirana: Marin Barleti, 1994, p.10]

Mental Asylum with Open Doors

You are going, you are leaving us,
Thinking it's "forever."
Fleeing from this, which is yours, ours,
Which is our mental asylum,
Our beloved, moving asylum

With skulls dismembered.

Oh, my sacred madmen,
How I love you,
Though I never speak to you,
Though you never speak to me
And I cannot stand you
And you cannot stand me.
But such are the rites:
We never look each other in the eye
Without hating one another,
And such is the motive
For loving one another mad,
While smiling in exaltation,
And all the while
Tears flow down our cheeks

Fellow sufferers
Of our unique madness,
You who are setting off into exile,
With eyes fixed
On one sole idea,
Yes, only one sole idea,
Which has never been seen, never been found
And I doubt if it ever will be found.

Be off, depart, disappear.
From place to place, from country to country...
Oh, what shrieking echoes
From our asylum
As the sun sets late in the west,
When longing lingers for its children in the West...

What sorrow!
Bare walls... Walls which always
emptyemptyemptyblock the horizon
And leave an infinite sky above.

There, after midnight, the sobbing subsides,
Someone is talking to himself:
Nonetheless, the Albanians
Wherever they may be,
Make do with their own madness...

[Çmendina me portë hapur, from the volume Delirium, Tirana: Marin Barleti, 1994, p.12]

Wait a Moment

Wait a moment, the fevers will be singing within me,
Tiny groans will be heard, terribly subtle,
In the heights of the brain, from the holes of the heart...
It is a time of fracture.
Keep away from me!
Do not look at me.
I am awfully beautiful.
You will be blinded...

With bare tears,
Where the light shivers,
It shines and falls
Into the depths of the breast,
My face weeps
With eyes looking in.

Mystery of beauty,
Your victim is siphoning water from your oasis,
And is blooming, succumbing within you.

Now I remember what it is:
It is what I dislike and what I die for,
While my memory, a forest felled by the storms
emptyemptyemptyof self-recovery,
Has torn me to pieces...

Close the doors and windows.
Keep the children away so that they don't see.
The fevers have begun, I am shaking.
I am awfully beautiful in this sphinx-like act,
With angelic blood in my veins.
I endure sharp pains.
Keep away!
You will be blinded!
Mystery of beauty,
Your victim siphoned water from your oasis,
And has bloomed and succumbed within you...

[Ja dhe pak, from the volume Delirium, Tirana: Marin Barleti, 1994, p.14]


I stand, light-emitting,
Honey flows from my fissures,
Shattered at my weakest point,
Alone and abandoned,
A state that causes harm to no one,
But me it destroys
In pain
Which drips with the sweet aroma
Of blood crushed
In solitude.

Oh, ingenious is this state,
For as I come to understand that I have lost everything,
I sense the infinite pleasure
Of having in hand
My own being
Neither praise nor crown
Could ever have bestowed on me.

Praise! What word is this?
How did it reach me?
How did it come?
An invention!
Some base, unnatural

I return whence I came, and arrive at nature.
Here I stand, want to judge it, but once again withdraw.
How fair and yet mortal is man,
How hearty and yet lonely.
Such strength and such suspicion...

Oh, unceasingly
You survey that inert unwinding in flight.
Everything absolute becomes unexpected.
Has only beauty the right
To pretend?

Why do you shun me, real creatures,
In a fugitive transformation, my today
Became my yesterday,
So swiftly that it was beyond my comprehension
(do you think there is life without that?)
Desire is yearning for a tomorrow
Which is not mine.

Why do you shun me, real creatures,
I live a life of objects forever inexistent
And have only myself in my hands...
Oh, is there any greater bliss than this?
Could there be any greater sorrow?

[Delirium, from the volume Delirium, Tirana: Marin Barleti, 1994, p.16]

Eastern Europe

Oh, race of the steers of passion
Which gives life to my veins,
Oh, tranquillity of oppression, stoic observation, the pulsing
I feel no pity and forgive no one,
Take account of nothing.
Go ahead and explode,

Oh, purity of the East, fresh budding fears
Of muscles and the blood of origin.
Brain ringing, temples resounding,
Echoing within the skull, silence outside.
Outside, dust.
Only dust that sings
emptyemptyemptyand rules the world.
Raises and fells the musty forms
Of human effigies:
Some gestures, sounds, impulses -
Extinction once again.

Oh, fresh fears budding like steers
In my veins,
How can I control you, set you free, clash blood-smeared with you?
Or let you freely exit the arena
With my blood which you have inseminated?

Oh, crucified cries in the empty recesses of my mind,
Oh, knives of pain which shatter on my skull,
Oh, pride, strength, attribution of the explosion.
Insanity - clear conscience.

[Europë lindore, from the volume Delirium, Tirana: Marin Barleti, 1994, p.19]

When Love is not a Means

When love is not a means
Wondrous worlds emerge, stars shatter,
Colours vibrate to the sounds of immortality,
And the universal form thereof, the container of the cosmos,
Is love,
When it is not a means.

Oh Lord, where are you hiding?
Are you perchance displeased?

[Atëherë kur dashuria nuk është mjet, from the volume Delirium, Tirana: Marin Barleti, 1994, p.23]


Oh, eternal and omnipotent silence,
From you I arose, in an endeavour
To return to you.
But, more arduous is the going back...
I was a child at the time,
Now I am grown.

[Vdekja, from the volume Delirium, Tirana: Marin Barleti, 1994, p.124]

I'm Just Mad about Campari

I love Campari sooooooo much.
My wife, no, she doesn't drink it.
I talk to her for five minutes a week
And I'm not number one in her books.
Oh, I'm just mad about Campari...

But I don't plan to die
emptyemptyemptythis way.
No, I am not gonna die like this.
I'm going back to America to face up to things
Then I'll come back here.
But, did you know that Campari can be drunk
Refined with soda water and lemon?
It's sooooooo sooooooo delicious.
Campari. I just love it.
America is one huge supermarket...
That's where I lost my way
And found it, you know where?
In the Campari.
Hemingway loved it,
Not women...
Hemingway... wasn't the first
To love Campari ...

Do you wanna come to America with me?
What? "To lose your way?"
Wonderful. Is that what they call "irony?"

I'm just mad about Campari...
She's the girl
I'm in love with.

[Jam i çmendur për Kampari, from the volume Delirium, Tirana: Marin Barleti, 1994, p.28]

Letter to Mummy

Don't let anyone but you read this letter,
Not because it's secret, I'm just not strong enough yet
To deal with what I'm telling you.
Tirana is its same old self,
The narrow alleys and low houses,
The weary wintry roads,
A fifteen-storey building in the middle,
Built like my utopia,
Watchmen on street corners near the embassies,
Police - woodpeckers of a waning June.

I sense that something is about to happen, Mummy,
The government was never so much against the people,
Never was treachery among men so much in fashion,
Never did more lost and more empty women
Drift through the nights in such a deep sleep.

I tell you, Mummy, peril is summoning me
With the toothless smile of a hungry love,
With a rift in its character,
Part of the rift in society,
They are offering me jobs, many of my friends and acquaintances,
All with high names in society, but low in life's tension,
Helping me to climb the ladder by using me,
But causing my fall, not raising me at all.

Dear mother, listen to me, don't worry,
With my verses,
I will chop them up, grind them to bits, I tell you,
Like a mincing machine.


[Letër mamkës, from the volume Delirium, Tirana: Marin Barleti, 1994, p.68]


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