Love on Mount Palmer


between Mount Palmer and Mount Judi exists a sky dome

and, like Columbus invading love’s berth,

slowly my ship anchors in the sea

no longer turbulent and full of rolling waves

towards the coast there looms a deserted horizon

golden carpet forms stockbroking buildings

skyscrapers, citizens drunk and busy

tackling traffic, hunting for the fighting cock

that strayed off the path of the historical village.

The building of life, though free, felt

imprisoned in restless wallowing, as though alienated

by various species of fishes

forced to share paths in the glass aquarium,

drowned while abusing the shell of souls smeared with air

and hardens the sculpture of the dream city.


Noah, like your ship anchored at the peak of

Mount Judi, now I am the friend of the messenger dove,

coming from a faraway land, seeking the empathy of enlightened souls

on the small piece of land at the edge of a hill that was almost

destroyed and ravaged by bulldozers of development

and isolated from the screams of a mirage-city.

I climbed the ladder to visit

the tomb site of asceticism and love. At the rest-place,

pinnacle of Mount Palmer, I hear the echo of eternal charm

from the verses of prayer and supplication

connecting the watch list of my love’s canticle

to the birds of Attar, come here for a while–

for a conference in the secluded hallway outside Beloved’s shrine

and together we commemorate the Day of Ashura. Noah,

do the fragments of real friendship still exist, like

your friends who would remain loyal to the Bai’ah

hailing from the ship of brotherhood

towards the debris of arid deserts

for the sake of uniting the valley of hope

after the floods destroy the world?


a green dome uncovers the cosmic overlay

for many centuries, this hill of the hidden garden of love

became a treasured monument that keeps

the sky’s secret, I tear open the doors of self-reflection,

I leap into the miraculous visionaries of peace.

It’s like being on top of the stunning Mount Sinai

expressing the longing for Moses while

approaching the draped light of your Face

when will mirrors reflect the heart of The One?

for what purpose is this old world veiled by

demure masks of revolution

if the real splendor of The Lover’s Face

will not be seen in the garden of the universe?


Greetings Habib Noh, greetings to you, oh pious one

at the door of the highest tomb filled with fragrance’s

musky nature, flapping wings of passion

the poet’s dove is still wandering

looking for God’s dimensions.

You are foremost among the sufi emirs

in the neglected city that is bereft of leaders,

you have slashed the arrogant self

you have built a mosque of nightly worship for love

you have captured the peak of this enduring hill

like Noah who immediately prepared his ship

after deciphering the sign in the waves

should this hill of Sufi heritage

and the other historical hills

be preserved from the tide of development

to become the fort that saves this country

say, when this world is overwhelmed by the great Tsunami?


Johar Buang

Johar Buang is a Singapore Malay writer who has received numerous accolades and won many awards such as the SEA Write Award (2010), the Singapore Literature Prize (2010/2014), the Golden Point Award from the National Arts Council (1999), and the Book Award of the National Book and Development Council of Singapore (1994). He started writing in the early 1980s and has produced works in various genres. Buang is most interested in writing Sufi poems. His books include the poetry collections Mawar Tajalli (2016), Yang Menjadi Sufi (2015), Pasar Diri (2012), Sampai Di Singgahsana Cinta (2009), and the short story collections Kisah Seorang Zahid (1992) and Dan Hari Terakhir Seorang Sufi (2000).

Annaliza Bakri

Annaliza Bakri is an educator and translator who believes that literary works could be the subliminal voice that cultivates greater understanding and consciousness of the past, present, and future. An ardent advocate of works that are beautifully penned in Malay, she strongly believes in the divine art of translation where shared heritage and mutual discovery promotes humanity. Her translations have been published in Prairie Schooner and Singapore’s Text in the City. Adding storyteller to her many personas, she performed her translation of an award-winning novel, Batas Langit by Mohamed Latiff Mohamed, at the 2014 Singapore International Storytelling Festival.

Sampai di Singgahsana Cinta. Copyright (c) Johar Buang, 2009. English translation copyright (c) Annaliza Bakri, 2017.