Ndue Ukaj (1977) is an Albanian writer, publicist and literary critic. His poems has been included in several anthologies of poetry, in Albanian, and other languages. He has published several books, including “Godo is not coming”, which won the national award for best book of poetry published in 2010 in Kosovo. He has also won the award for best poems in the International Poetry Festival in Macedonia and another prize. His poems and texts are translated into English, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Finnish, Swedish, Turkish and Chinese.

Ukaj is member of Swedish PEN.



The world is sneezing

 By Ndue Ukaj


The world is sneezing in front of a virus

that has bound the earth and shakes it like a light toy.


People are panting like dogs after a long and aimless journey.

Everyone panting, and behind walls they compose a symphony of fear.


Ahead of us, more scary walls and glum news.

The planet – like a trembling heart – is shuttered

and is listening to lightning.


Tonight, the moon was beautiful but in the light of her face

I saw the troubled eyes of a weary world.


The day was sunny too.

I was sitting in the back seat of a car

snaking through silence and fear

and I saw nature breathing without humans.


The clockwise are slow now.

Girls take their time getting out of their pajamas.

Women say their rosaries for new time.

And men like me are terrified in front of the black glass.


(Also terrified are those who sit in huge castles and on high thrones.)


Beyond is silence like a raging ocean

where ships drown with longing –

and prisoners see Eden burning.


The clockwise move slowly now.

The news spreads fear faster than the virus.

One counts the hours of life ahead

and sees the final destination – death.

Younger ones pant like tired dogs

and put out cigarettes in their burning hands.

Children fill sacks with toys

and, confused, wait for a new day.


But there are also those who don´t need clocks and calendars:

that old man sitting under his beloved tree,

doctors who fight to save more lives.

Groups of reporters roam, like the wind that warns of worsening weather.

Bad news is growing they say

because some people have closed their windows on good news.


The media is full of sadnesses

and troubling reports

overflowing with viruses and microbes.


Humanity sneezes anxiously.

In this long night of frightening darkness.

I sit in the back seat and watch the evil hearted sneeze

but also hear kindhearted voices confessing on the altar of forgiveness.


But when the cathedral bells ring

everyone turns their eyes to heaven.

They sneeze again and pant,

and pray that tomorrow the world will get better

and celebrate a great mass of love.