Matthew Rohrer
Translations from Hafiz

                                             for Joshua Saul Beckman



Might as well spend money 

on wine instead of new clothes

Might as well pour all the wine on these books

Might as well get drunk in a bar

Might as well pour myself 

a tearful glass of fire

Might as well stop dreaming

of heaven, legless

Might as well unlearn

the smell of your hair

                       I am old


I poured out my heart

to her in a letter

I said it was the end of the world

I said my face is wet with tears

and that’s my best feature

What a waste of time

How many of the ancients’ love poems

actually worked?

The doctor said she was ill

The wind blew the clouds

away from the moon

The next day was beautiful

I knew it would be embarrassing

to be seen walking around

outside her apartment

                       I went to the bar


I moved to the city

I was going to be great

Now I have to leave

I can’t afford to eat properly

the way you eat

The pigeons cooing in the evening

used to lull me to sleep

“Oh heart be joyful” I read

on a restroom wall

It was a terrible lie

Misfortune rises all the way

to heaven

                       But this too shall pass


I said it before

and I’ll say it again

it’s not my fault

Like a parrot I said

what everyone else said

Roses and weeds 

are exactly the same

I’m still looking for someone

who thinks I’m cool

With wine stains all over my shirts

I’m not trying to hide anything

Sometimes I dream

I’m happy

                       Drinking wine

                       makes me happy


It’s pouring rain out

Let’s get a drink

It’s too muddy 

to take a walk

Let’s get a drink

Or you could bring some wine over

and some flowers

Because the bars are closed

even if you bang on the doors

The rain is beautiful

for about 5 minutes

and then it’s annoying

your red lips

making a circle

replace the sun

                       If I’m lucky


May you never have to sit 

in a doctor’s waiting room

May everything blow over

You are too beautiful

for that

The autumn winds rip off

the leaves 

but the tree remains

May you move unmolested

through the city

And if anyone even looks

at you wrong

May they burn in hell

                       Just leave it to me


All I want to do

is get drunk with my wife

An endless glass of wine

both of us on the floor

So what if squares

look down on us?

Boring and misguided

are their miserable lives

When my wife is in the city

and I’m home

I want to cry

The moonlight 

on the cypress tree

is a bitter light

No book has ever kissed me

like she does


The city is a beautiful place

The summer night lingers

just above the streets

And there is something

that frightens off the timid

Those who are drawn here

have a duty to prolong it

And gladly will they

Every evening in the city

is a deep pool of wine

Everyone who lives in the city

is drunk with it

And cannot leave

                       They are surrounded by friends


In the morning

when I went into my garden

to pick a rose

a nightingale started to freak out


the more I thought about it

freaked me out

There was a deep and terrible connection

I could not bear

In a garden we believe 

life is eternal

                       Which we don’t even want


The brisk wind pouring down

from the north

reminds me of my friend

It has the same cold magnificence

I lean out the window

and call out a sort of greeting

I know he is happy

he is doing well

I have followed him

many times

into the unlikeliest bars

Even hecklers 

cannot spoil his fun

Found In Volume 41, No. 06
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  • matthewrohrer
Matthew Rohrer
About the Author


Matthew Rohrer is the author of seven books of poems, most recently Destroyer & Preserver, published by Wave Books. He is co-author, with Joshua Beckman, of the collaborative book Nice Hat. Thanks, and the audio CD Adventures While Preaching The Gospel of Beauty. With Joshua Beckman and Anthony McCann he co-authored the secret book Gentle Reader! He teaches at NYU and lives in Brooklyn.