Feminine Energy and Passion

Olimbi Velaj
Olimbi Velaj

9 poems

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

Olimbi Velaj was born in Mallakastra in the mountains of southern Albania. She studied in Tirana and Sofia and has worked as a journalist. Velaj is the author of the lyric volume Çastet vdesin nën akrepa oresh (Moments Perish under the Hands of Clocks), Tirana 1998.

The Event

Inverted like an anagram was the event
With little logical significance
With instinctive precision we brought it to being
Up to the end of another age
Without the manifold risk of it fading
The violence of things comes from above
Where constructions are concentrated
In the homeland of reason
Like a hole
It was created to collapse on itself
Yet I don't understand
What it would mean to remain
In the verbal plastic of being
When neurasthenics pour into libraries
To snare red salamanders
In the pipes of the hemispheres,
A flood is the other half of being
In which the ego is archived in its absence,
Just as heavy
Sunday's crosses
Made of scorpions
Sting your eyes,
In fact it was a last Friday of agony
Timeless because for a moment I did not
Recognize the story
And on one of the Fridays like this
The weeping is displaced
When we are on holiday, on Sunday
In a foreign city without a river, eucalyptus
Or attacks of curiosity, you perish
In a month of August, on the 3rd some Friday
Sleep ends in the afternoon without any great burst
Like the dazzle of light
Only with desperate suns
Which I cleanse in a concept
While the event dies
With you in its midst
Surrounded by smoke devised by the dark.


The errors

The errors are red or blue
But I can't sense any more surnames,
For me the errors are schedules
That I forget, but can't reach,
For example I was born
On the third day of year one
After the year seventy of this century
Or I plopped out of my mother
At twelve o'clock on that day
Or the mothers were empty
When the children became visible,
I must have been
A real squaller at that time
But I can't touch it with my memory,
My error is inability
Because I still love potential things
When they become intangible
I am an error myself
For I understand the amorphous existence of bodies
The coercion of moralizing eyes
Infinitely overwhelmed by the idea of worthiness
And lived violently, in the name of the name
Which others have conceived
Who live like us too
Because by chance for the others
We are THE OTHERS - the opposite of the error
Indeed blithe virtue like all graves.


Moments succumb beneath the hands of clocks

Moments succumb beneath the hands of clocks
Roofs, day after day, rammed from the start into the sun
Like brown pyramids without bases,
Far away, where the soul is vagrant,
Hands lounge in the doorways
Of greetings,
In a gravy of poems drown gloomy twilights,
An ancient and endless old tree
Ever quietly casts its foliage,
As if from a failed exam
I return
Under the whetted whining of the wind,
Moments succumb beneath the hands of clocks,
Sprawled on the streets like invisible corpses
Under epitaphs with slurs like "former".

[Çastet vdesin nën akrepa orësh]


It is too early to speak of infinity
Where the birds revive with cries,
Where the evolutionary phases of the nettle
Have been inching since morning in memory,
And the day is less than a day
In the bitter stalks
With a violent reaction
Only an acrid taste is left over
For parts of the living world,
Beyond the balustrades of indifference
I slung my sleepy arteries around my neck
And my nebulous pulse
Naturally, as I would a medallion.

(30 May 1993)


The last night of love

Warm was
The last night of love
And the fire was spent over the sea
Like shards of ancient urns
Filled with pagan bones,
The last chords of sound fell in silence
And froze
Within me,
The past hours turned to stone
In the salty spray,
But warm
Was the last night of love
And time slid
Like a swath of fog
Over our Gothic figures.

(18 April 1996)

[Nata e mbrame e dashurisë]

The loss

I know
What an extinguished fire
Like a child
That is not yet

About death
I stood
In a morgue
Of irretrievable loves
Never were my eyes
As morose
Never closer to heaven.

(12 February 1992)



Beyond the roads and regions
Beyond birthdays and tongues
Arrived time
Amidst penned lines
And anonymous coffee cups
In hollow cafes
Under an azure illusion of sky
Impressions clambered over senses
Reviving buried desires?
Other people are with me
To understand other things
That are no longer with you?
The sad eggs of time splatter
On the present
As other lips nip
At the same cups
In the still of the night.



Do you recall our confusion
Within the abbey walls

With weary angels winging about
In the waning light of winter?
I did not know where the present was,
Wrapped in the pale frescos
You were there, in front of me,
Like a crucifixion
With an intractable sorrow
When we both said:
"There is no hereafter",
Wild birds swooped
Upon the last kernels of wheat
By the lips of stones,
At the foot of the alley
You bowed your head
Like a silent Christ
Pinned to my eyes,
Everything was timeless
And I still do not know
Where the present is leading
With your cross on my back.


Afternoon being

Time came to an end on the hands of clocks
As did my attention,
Like a sallow
Disease, the afternoon
Sagged in the air
While planes soared
Into the same sky of capitulations,
Now I sluggishly return
To the cell of my anguish
Where there is no height
No fear of vomiting,
The sentence has been served,
No more days to be counted
On the bars and walls, night has arrived
Like a grey seal,
The light releases only
Time, two times over with bodies
In which you remained an irritation,
While the world was at ease, bones
Of a bother with women appeared?
There is no more room for regret
In these heavenly hours,
Situations remain behind, unread
Like Persian manuscripts in the State archives,
Calendars do not concur,
They have the year 1421 A.H.
And my sleep ends
In a midnight dream,
On your side sighs the day.

[Qenie pasdite]


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