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Poems About Iran

In the Shade of a Dream

They say it is not practical
to find the shade of a maple
when tyranny strips the leaves, and
Iran is forlorn and barren

Even when leaving them
the maples of Tehran are
minding my thoughts
leaves of dreaming
branches in exile with
compatriots who share
the day that is
the night and a half
a zone of chanting and
secret leaves netted in green bits

Who needs to be pragmatic
if there’s green in winter,
a new moon in Tehran,
esteghlal, azadi, Jomhouri Irani
A Mother Speaks Out

In mourning,
this morning
between the orange sunrise
and the blue of infinity
I see the green waving at me
a rolling dawn daunting,
flaunting the promises,
many days to rain
to dry the face
running through the streets of mourning, and
trying to face the night alone

Something this night is too bright
a light saturates my being
with a horrible gnosis
but I listen in awe
to illuminated silence

How will I tell
what everyone knows
about the silence
where an essence exists

I am swollen with sad joy
and veracity must be born

I seem near term
to let be heard the cry
of freedom, a new child.

How will I tell
what everyone knows?

I would ask my brother
who is of higher rank
to speak for me
but he is dead

My elder son
has marched, been raped in jail
but he is mute, broken,
trembling, hurt, and ashamed
in bed all day crying, “Mommy,” and
I can not comfort him.

I will tell
what everyone knows:

There’s an evil godless man
who’s been running our Iran
and we’re running by the Sea of Green
to reach the hand of God
Persian Girl Away In Ireland

A gentle voice is floating around ethereal
from doom to dune and in the dusty sky,
the summer’s gone and all the grave are crying
my only child
must go
and I must hide

but bring me back an Irish four-leaf clover
from all my friends who’ve known a sorrow too
for it is I who’s here on slopes of mountains
on Caspian beech I lean to wave my love to you

But arrive you may when all the fish are dying
from sea of green and in Caspian Sea
and if I’m dead, as shot by beech or elm tree
you’ll place a wreath of clover adrift the sea

and drink the wine forbidden with some caviar
your Irish friends will make a wake for me.
If love can skip a stone above Caspian
your love for me will not be any blasphemy

I’ll save my love for you until
you are
with me
Speaking of Forty Days

Forty days of dry river beds.
Dry silence there.

If a fish can not jump over a camel
floods will come

and when a voice returns
past mourning cleanse
the hump of struggle will be passed.

For every morning drop to come
a prayer will rain in tickling voice, and
chortles will fade
all pings into ding-dongs.

When gales of laughter
blow naked clergy down
rain will come.

If a fish can not jump over a camel,
rain will come.

When drizzle like sprinkled titters
spreads into dry cracks,
a wicked reign shall fall

and fall and fall

In mocking guffaws,
the floods will come.

The sea is nourished.
The green will flourish.

Let every voice be moved to sing
the rain will come
Indigenous Confession

I confess
dear Supreme Leader that
compassion is foreign to torturers.

I, like your puppet president
kiss your cold-blooded shoulder.

Praise be Supreme Serpent
Hydra-headed ancient
native to Persia
indigenous evil

Free speech is foreign under the club,
the beating, the blows elicit
the illicitness, the hissing confessions
coerced in a house of ill fame

Poisoned, I
kiss your cold-blooded shoulder
to survive a land
devoid of foreign things.

Praise for the Inquisition:
its lies are broadcast to the world
who listens to foreign things.

For the love in the world
the voice of Neda
is not foreign,
it is shared
Telling The News

If I see Ali’s wife
I might hide my wet face
tell her later the news about
Basiji on motorcycles
those worse than
Janjaweed on Camels,
diligent spit with clubs and guns

If I see her
I must not scream
above her wailing,
must calmly tell her
tell her, tell her

If I see her, if

If I could only tell her
the demonstration succeeded
turned back the Basiji
at Tehrananmen Square
I could whimper condolences
be calm for her

but my brother Ali is dead
and the gush of blood on my clothes
makes me wail
in her presence

Cry streaming like me
and in sickness
she vomits this morning
when everyone is crushed

And I wonder in shame
who can be born without tears
—Douglas Gilbert
The Weeping Willow Sings

Haunting shots
hear my Neda say
my heart stings

I hear singing in the leaves
moving branches
interleaving freedoms
like a green dream sad
autumn reds too early

But rivers of blood

Eyes open
nightmare on Kargar Street,
the world a bitter pixel

I hear my Neda sing:
it burned me

But I can not even mourn
outside Niloofar mosque.
The Ayatollah mocks my song, but
his mysteries don’t intrigue me anymore.

His evil is clear.

My heart sings the only truth, and
it burns me that he hasn’t remembered
his Mother

The Ayatollah is not a woman, not a man
never having any babies
and is ignorant of birth
ignorant of the cry
of freedom

Oh God
save the child
Waiting For A Song

So many silences in Iran.
Even birds have omens.

Came for an avian concert
on a walk
on a lark, but

thirty birds
pecked at a dog
who whimpered
then chirped.

All the birds
growled at me,
barked like Basiji.

Came for an avian concert
for a song, but

the dog’s howling
was off-key
and the birds
dropped sticks
on the wires of a fence
like a dulcimer.

seems the birds have lost
their concert master,
imitate predators.

concert canceled
in a breeze

I carried a feather home to compose,
to wait for the rain, and
the thunder of the people

—Douglas Gilbert

Books by Douglas GilbertP


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