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Three Poems

by Ridzuan Harun
25 March 2021

Translated from Malay by Muhammad Haji Salleh 

Should You or I Go

You open before me

A map of your future,

In it are dreams and hopes;

You let them float along a road

That blurs into the silence.


To you I bring

An armful of books from my past –

See, they are stained by blood

That has since dried;

I love my past

More than the dreams of the future.

When There are no More Poems

As there are no more


Being written,

I choose

To read the dictionary.


Strange how, on these pages

I found you,

As in the old romances.

A Note for Zafirah

As you are my daughter

I love you excessively,

Though you often protest

That I am annoyed with you;

but I love and dote on you, endlessly.


As you slowly become a teenager

Learn to leave your house

And go to a distant school,

My father’s heart has

Become half-empty.


There is another half:

This heart of mine, now.

I know not

The face

Or colour

Of a father’s loneliness,

So that I may describe it to you.


Soon, when the flower blooms,

You will be further away;

Then with your own family,

Then children:

You well know how the heart of this middle-age man

Will be fully empty.

A father’s heart is always thus,

Strange, but always present.

Photo Credit: “Old books in Sarah’s house” by lungstruck is licensed under CC BY 2.0

About the Author

Ridzuan Harun

Ridzuan Harun was born in 1975, in the northern Malaysian state of Kedah. He graduated from the Universiti Putra Malaysia. To date he has published 5 books of poems, and a book of verse for children. Some of them have been translated into English. Ridzuan has won several national literary prizes, including the Hadiah Utama. […]