Give Me a Person

Jazra Khaleed
Translated from the Greek by Peter Constantine

Give me a person to cover me,            there is a draft of cold air in my loneliness;dig as I might in my belly I find                       only stones.(Perhaps you should dig with me too.)On the way to my face I collect                        rocks by the handful.That is why I tell you, give me a person!To lie on him                        in all my meridians,                        in all my latitudes,to rest,            to drink his sweat,                        to sleep.Let me enjoy a little this fluffed            warmth.Give me a person,            a person with a cause,            a heart that does not function with a valve,            lips that do not err in kisses.Someone who writes human poems,            or at least cries when he hears                        the sound of Coltrane                        in his breath.How terrible it is losing            three fingers in such a crowd.Give me a person to help me            as I enter and exit my hands,            as my trousers fall                        or I step on the laces of my otherness.Look how my footsteps shiver with cold            as I scramble to leave behind me Kallidromiou Street.(This lack of asphalt within me            often leaves me speechless.)Give me a person within whom three chords sound.A person who will shake my gender            within the chill of the A7 bus.            I need his chest so that I can hear my heartbeat,            I need his shoulders to carry my life.Is there no person for me?Just give me someone!Even one who sleeps standing                        rasping.At least a woman who defends my voice            with her larynx.She would certainly be for me!Or give me at least her embrace, along with an            owner's manual.Now that the stigmata on my palms have healed            I can pray to the peopledressed in my Sunday best.

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Image of Jazra Khaleed

Jazra Khaleed is a poet, translator, and filmmaker. He lives in Athens, writes exclusively in Greek, and his works are an indictment of fascism, social injustice, police brutality and racism in contemporary Greece. His most recent publications are The Light That Burns Us (World Poetry Books, USA), Requiem pour Homs (Marges en Pages, France) and μα είν’ αυτό ποίηση; (Teflon Books, Greece).

Image of Peter Constantine

Peter Constantine’s recent translations include works by Augustine, Rousseau, Machiavelli, and Tolstoy; he is a Guggenheim Fellow and was awarded the PEN Translation Prize for Six Early Stories by Thomas Mann, and the National Translation Award for The Undiscovered Chekhov. He is the director of the Program in Literary Translation at the University of Connecticut.

Cover of The Light That Burns Us

Berkeley, California

“…an explosive cadence… Khaleed’s sentiment toward the would-be aesthetes seems clear: ‘Fuck off, flower poets.’”—David Wallace, The New Yorker

“[Jazra Khaleed] stands up to fascism by writing and performing Greek-language poetry that is unmatched in technical bravura, emotional depth, and political urgency. He performs his poetry at a lightning clip — so fast the Nazis can barely keep up, let alone talk back — a hip-hop emcee in a fever.”—Max Ritvo, LA Review of Books

“…agitated and delirious and necessary.”—Lotte L.S, Mute

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