The Last Refugee: A poem by Shehzar Doja and Aleksandra Spaseska
And here We stand
on the edge of Man’s eye,
weathered shoulders upon wearier shoulders,
the last of Us,
remnants of a cold decaying Truth.
Where art thou, Brother?
Quo vadis, Brother?
left me shattered, spited, sprained,
torn apart from mother’s dew
silenced was my father’s tongue.
and here I stand Now, unbound.
The indignant centuries
weather us down
to here, where We
can bare no more…
no soothing cascades of respite,
no damn salvation in sight…
Hope’s residue, an elapsed relic,
a remnant of what was once
but no longer due.
I follow you into the mirage…
Laid upon a maiden’s breasts
once I caressed a dream so young,
eyes scattered to a world so new.
Now ireful, intact, immured
I lay my wretched body to rest.
I call thee, Brother, come,
lay my body to rest.
It falls unto whom at best
I besiege to learn…
to form Truth into a surrogate pillow
from the cadaver of a dying
crest fallen star?
We have lived and have laid together,
blanketed by the same silver thorns of night
adorning the same shy veil,
we have danced together through images
of a million such fire borne and bred tales…
and yet we remain so few,
amidst so many…
the last stuttering embers
of Humanity’s flame.
I will turn to Sun and Moon
I shall prevail the scorn and yearn
I will walk the tall and deep
echoes of serenity.
Reborn, these eyes will see
through the wilderness of
life retold in
of embodied Times to be.
I shall be free, my Brother
in the echo of your Soul.
Hush now child of etched dreams,
it seems you are the brother
to the children of the world,
have no doubt.
Destiny painted across the palettes of
night and dark,
a forgiven Hope
yet to spark
within the mist laid
of a forgotten tombstones’
the world we seek
is yet to come.
how wondrous or venomous
that world might be,
How older or colder
I may grow,
I shall be embraced
in its motherly love,
ever so thrilling.
East and West
colliding on my restless wings,
on the mounting North
weaving in the plenteous South.
There I shall lay my bones
unchained, unbroken, undenied
the humbleness of time
in perpetual prayer,
and oh, what a lulling
mausoleum that would be
for my invictus soul.
THE CRITIQUE BY RICHIE MACCS
‘NOW,’ said Alyosha, ‘I understand the first half.’
‘You understand the first half. That half is a drama, and it was played out there. The second half is a tragedy, and it is being acted here.’
‘And I understand nothing of that second half so far,’ said Alyosha.
‘And I? Do you suppose I understand it?’
‘Stop, Dmitri. There’s one important question. …’
No need to say the quote, just like many others, has been taken out of context and will be used here to satisfy our own intellectual greed rather than spice up Alyosha’s intent on knowing whether Dmitri was betrothed or is still betrothed. We can state with finality that Fyodor Dostoevsky had no knowledge of the ‘Last Refugee’ when he was penning ‘The Brothers Karamazov’, neither did Shehzar Doja and Aleksandra Spaseska invite Dostoevsky’s muse into the intimate confines of their poetic prisons. Of course I do not claim to have had access to the intricate workings of the mind of these three literary wizards. This critique will not criticize. I have no desire of recommending improvements or wish that the poem could have aligned to a certain metric form. I’ll view it as complete like a masterpiece hang on the high ceilings of a Chapel, no new dabs of paint could give it a new meaning. It would only give it another meaning.
The poem is in two parts. However, before the incisive pen begins to rip the poem line by line or oil the hinges that suffer and rust, with the fluidity of prose; we cannot claim to know the first half, far less the second half. Both parts marry and become one road laced with drama and tragedy and a tired haggard sojourner patching a torn but enlightened soul. The Last Refugee is thus a tired tale of the only one left amongst billions of spiritually dead.
First half: “I call thee, Brother, come”
The poem is written in a deeply felt style which is individualistic, beautiful, exotic, and emotionally wrought. It’s the product of a fight; a fight with one’s own conscience. It is the mangled remains of humanity’s soul crying out for rescue. The poet laments the lost glory of spiritual knowledge. He is forced to endure the reality of ‘a cold decaying Truth’. The present is dying and the realization of what the future holds dances before the eyes of an enlightened soul (I). There are but a few who see, the great majority do not and the poet, in true poetic spirit, proclaims that though the past was bound, truth held captive in silenced tongues, and enlightenment denied a firm foundation; the poet’s tongue is free and will speak of the death of consciousness (II).
The lament is not concretistic; rather it is a plaint of all that seems to be. Indignation and denigration, the fading smoke of hope, bareness and barrenness, are the clouds that encircle a forgotten sojourner. There is no salvation in sight but being cognizant of the eternal lamp the poet trudges forward (I follow you into the mirage/ I/ follow/you) buoyed by an innate conviction (Stanza III).
“Where art thou, Brother?” (Stanza II, line 1) … “I call thee, Brother, come/ lay my body to rest” (Stanza IV, line 6, 7). These are the torments that scar the sojourner. Just like any being, they become weary and desire an end to their trials, they need to be laid down to rest but the Brother comes not and the trudge has to continue. Seeking must never end, for only the seeking find the Ultimate Truth (It falls unto whom at best/ I besiege to learn… / to form Truth into a surrogate pillow/ from the cadaver of a dying / crest fallen star?) and though many may follow the trail only a few prevail (… and yet we remain so few/ amidst so many …/ the last stuttering embers/ of Humanity’s flame) (Stanza V).
The individualism, the persistence to achieve self actualization, the intimate desire to achieve self realization overrides the obstacles; the thorns that bleed the sojourner’s feet. Thus, through rotting corpses may litter the path and the forsaken cries of mothers and children ring in the wilderness ‘I shall be free, my Brother/ in the echo of your Soul’; so proclaims the poet (Stanza VI).
Second half: “the world we seek is yet to come”
Recognition of the Brother: ‘child of etched dreams’ is the spark that must be re-awakened, that must be followed. ‘Hope’s residue, an elapsed relic/a remnant of what was once/but no longer due” (Stanza III line 8,9) now holds the sojourners light; for ‘destiny (is) painted across the palettes of night and dark,’ “a forgiven Hope” is the guiding torch to the ‘world we seek’; a world that ‘is yet to come’ (Stanza VII1). That world holds great promise to the seekers who find it, for they’ll bathe in its motherly love, fulfill long held dreams, and glory in earned freedom. And as the humbleness of time heals in the midst of perpetual prayer, the sought will finally be found. A spiritual gift: a ‘lulling mausoleum/for my invictus soul’ (VII.2).
Just as psychologist Robert Coles said of Endo Shusaku’s story the ‘Deep River’, I also say that this poem too “will tell of a universal vulnerability and the yearning that goes with it – the desire for a redemptive journey, a passage into more promising, secure terrain”.
Richie Maccs April 2012
Shehzar Doja runs the blog http://shehzardoja.wordpress.com/