I press my head down

Fateme Ekhtesari
b. 1986


I press my head down
It’s the result of insomnia oppressing me
I press my head to you and to my miserable memoirs
The night is pressing me too
But I’m so tough

Now it’s the sound of your scream coming
And there is blood
And there is the smell of tear and tear gas
A soldier is pressing my head down by his boots
Someone is pulling the trigger
Now there is a gun between my eyebrows
I feel the blood pressure in my head
The cowards have run
I press a cold hand in my cold hand

Someone was calling my name all the night
I feel the pressure of a lump in my throat
My throat is wounded
And I hear you screaming in the ear of someone who is all dead
I feel the pressure of life
And its wounds
And its marks
And I feel the pressure of the graves upon the solitude of dead

I press my fists to the wall and I swallow my cry
You are still screaming in the wild howls of the wind
I press my head down
A vessel is pressing a nerve
And I press a bottom to flash my life back
To go back to a scene where I’m opening a window towards light
Where everybody rise out of the graves
Where I hold a warm hand in my hand
And we are laughing in our homes and in our rooms
There I hear the sound of peace
And my heart beats normally
And that’s a better day with a green background

Translated by Mohammad Hoseini Moghaddam

Why Was Adam

Attar of Nishapur
1145 – 1220


‘Why was Adam driven from the garden?’
The pupil asked his master. ‘His heart was hardened
With images, a hundred bonds that clutter the earth
Chained Adam to the cycle of death following birth.
He was blind to this equation, living for something other
Than God and so out of paradise he was driven
With his mortal body’s cover his soul was shriven.
Noblest of God’s creatures, Adam fell with blame,
Like a moth shriveled by the candle’s flame,
Into history which taught mankind shame.
Since Adam had not given up his heart
To God’s attachment, there was no part
For Adam in paradise where the only friend
Is God; His will is not for Adam to imagine and bend.’

Translation by Raficq Abdulla


Sharya Abra
b. 1985


I am cowering
in an clock that does not let go of the evening
The cage is tight
No foetus can form in this narrow waist
Every door I knock at
There again a policeman arrives
without a sneeze
Squeezing me with words
Breaking a twig
With nowhere to graft it to
Except on a branch that turned to letters of I love you

Where does it come from
This water
this question that grows
takes root
And without a father
gives the answer
A son

How can I get up with a clock
That is in a coma
And dive into the dusk

Like a dog
I’m short legged
The cats are watching
And silence
That carries the alphabet of suicide
Doesn’t break out of me
Until lips forsake “I love you”
And the foetus is detached
Under each poultice
Point per point of my body
A policeman is on his beat

Translation by Abol Froushan

My Heart is But a Moth on Your Candle-Like Face

Ahli Shirazi
1454 – 1535


My heart is but a moth on your candle like face, for it
bears prints of faithfulness. Issue the edict of union, for it
is besmeared with blood of grief.

Insignia of prosperity and edict of authority will be decora¬
ted in the name of Mir Ali Sher.

O God, I pray thee that enemy’s hand of power, should
always stand turned down as has been in the past.


Fatemeh Ghahremani
b. 1991


A tear drop alights
From a car that crosses my eye
And stops
Behind a light that embodies red
And then drops
into bumps and coughs
And pulls a hand break
Like a light that turns amber
When the street is quiet

If I don’t run away
In these high heels
To the last light
Someone would want to give me a ride
With hands that go green
like a bud in my eyes
And then blow cigarette smoke
Into my eyes

What a passengerless destiny
My poor tears

Are shot again
My eyes
Got their period again

Translation by Abol Froushan


Rābi’a Balkhī
10th century


I am caught in Love’s web so deceitful
None of my endeavors turn fruitful.
I knew not when I rode the high-blooded stead
The harder I pulled its reins the less it would heed.
Love is an ocean with such a vast space
No wise man can swim it in any place.
A true lover should be faithful till the end
And face life’s reprobated trend.
When you see things hideous, fancy them neat,
Eat poison, but taste sugar sweet.

Oh sisters, Honor Lies in Independence

Zandokht Shirazi
1909 – 1953


Oh, women of this land!
There is no life, nothing.
This is nothing
but failure and grief.
Death for us is hundred times
Better than such a life.
This life is nothing
But a symbol of slavery.
Beware, women of this land!
Be friends to one another!
Dissolve your links with men!
Why do you take on the name of
Your husband, though you have
A name of your own?

The Grass of God’s Garden

We present this work in honor of the 730th anniversary of the poet’s death.

1203 – 1292


I saw bouquets of fresh roses
Tied upon a cupola of grass.
I asked: “What is despicable grass
To sit also in the line of the roses?”

The grass wept and said: “Hush!
Companionship does not obliterate nobility.
Although I have no beauty, color, and perfume,
Am I not after all the grass of God’s garden?”

Translation by Edward S. Holden

Look Up!

1814 – 1852


Look up! Our dawning day draws its first breath!
The world grows light! Our souls begin to glow!

No ranting shaykh rules from his pulpit throne.
No mosque hawks holiness it does not know.

No sham, no pious fraud, no priest commands!
The turban’s knot cut to its root below!

No more conjurations! No spell! No ghosts!
Good riddance! We are done with folly’s show!

The search of truth shall drive out ignorance.
Equality shall strike the despots low.

Let warring ways be banished from the world.
Let justice everywhere its carpet throw.

May friendship ancient hatred reconcile.
May love grow from the seed of love we sow!

Translation by Amin Banani with Jascha Kessler