Alisa Velaj


Last midnight, our goldfinch passed away.
My father was overwhelmed with sorrow
as I'd hardly ever seen him before.
Morning was slow to come,
with a lonely canary in the other cage,
now facing the empty one in front.
Oh, how long we waited for our canary to sing!
We waited and waited the whole day out... Still, voice-locked, she suddenly died in the evening.
My grief then grew fathomless,
for I was reminded of a night of nights,
when the news reported of a violated pedestrian, while we sat to dine as usual,
mindless even of a prayer for the poor soul. [We only commented that, in this country,
one's life is worth less than a feather
Our frail canary, instead,
sang no more upon losing her friend…

— Translated from Albanian by Arben P. Latifi

Alisa Velaj has been shortlisted for the annual international Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in UK in June 2014. Her works have appeared in more than eighty print and online international magazines, including: FourW twentyfive Anthology (Australia), The Journal (UK), The Dallas Review (USA), The Linnet’s Wings (UK) The Seventh Quarry (UK), Envoi Magazine (UK) etc etc. Velaj’s digital chapbook “The Wind Foundations” translated by Ukë Zenel Buçpapaj is published by Zany Zygote Review (USA). Her poems are also translated in Hebrew, Swedish, Romanian, French and Portuguese. Alisa Velaj’s poetry book With No Sweat At All (trans by Ukë Zenel Buçpapaj) will be published by Cervena Barva Press in 2019.