What Did You Leave Behind

z 10-16-21
Solmaz Sharif
b. 1986


A pool
with evergreens,

needles falling
into the water,

painted a milky
jade. A car
in the driveway.

A mother.

Another mother.

A cockatiel
in the hallway

next to the plastic

after beveled glass.
after beveled secret.

Letters from a
first crush
now dead.

We wanted
to be asked

of these things.
We spent
much of our lives

To tell of them
was to live

We rathered
and rathered,

scraping the soft

the gravestones
of our early

A Breeze from the Land of Peace

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 95th birthday.

09-21 Moshiri
Fereydoon Moshiri
1926 – 2000


Indeed, if someday, someone asks me,
“During your time on Earth, what did you do?”
I’ll open my book of verse before him,
I’ll hold my head up, laughing and crying,
I’ll say that this seed is “newly sown,”
It needs time to come to fruition and bloom.

Under this vast cerulean sky,
With all my might, in very song,
I evoked the revered name of love.
Perhaps, by this weary voice,
An oblivious someone was awakened,
Somewhere in the four corners of this world.

I praised kindness,
I battled against wickedness.

I suffered the “wilting of a single stem of flower,”
I grieved the “death of a caged canary,”
And, for people’s sorrows,
I died a hundred times a night.

I’m not ashamed if at times,
When one ought to have screamed from deep within,
With Jesus-like patience,
I kept my silence.

If I were to arm myself with a sword,
To fight against the ignorant,
Blame me not for taking the road to love.
A sword in hand implies,
A man may meet his demise.

We were passing through a bleak road,
Where the darkness of ignorance was devastating!
My belief in humanity was my torch!
The sword was in devil’s hand!
Words were my only weapon on this battlefield!

Even if my poetry could not kindle a fire in anyone’s mind,
My heart, like firewood, burned from both sides.
Read a page from my book of verse, and you may say:
Can anyone burn worse than him?!

Many endless nights, I did not sleep,
To retell humanity’s message from man to man,
In the thorny land of animosity,
My words were a breeze from the land of peace.
But, perhaps, they should’ve been a mighty windstorm,
To uproot all this wickedness.

Our elders had advised us in the past:
“It is too late… too late…
The soul of the Earth is so dark,
Our strength, multiplied by hundred,
Is no more than a lonely cry in a desert so vast!”

“Another Noah, there must be,
Another great storm, too.”

“The world must be built anew,
New humans within it, too”

Yet, this patient, solitary man,
Carrying his backpack full of fervor,
Still strides along,
To draw a glimmer of light from the heart of this darkness,
He places the candle of a poem here and there,
He still hopes for the miracle that is man.


Translation by Franak Moshiri

Golden anything

09-04 Kalbasi
Sheema Kalbasa
b. 1972


My fragile nights bathed
in Wisteria
Freshened by Eucalyptus
Pools of anything but Sorrow

Thee my love, thee
Angels and wings of dreamy shadows

Waves of desire
Floating essences, flooding rivers

I am trembling, tremble
Oceans of passion, desire
My fragile nights.

Thundering anything
Waking from mirrors
In the corner of my eye
razors flooding to enter.

I ask my heart: Why?
And the pain becomes a rare visitor.

On Moderation in Our Pleasures

06-25 Tabataba
Abu Alcassim Ebn Tabataba
? – 1027


How oft does passion’s grasp destroy
The pleasure that it strives to gain!
How soon the thoughtless course of joy
Is doomed to terminate in pain!

When Prudence would thy steps delay,
She but restrains to make thee blest;
Whate’er from joy she lops away
But heightens and secures the rest.

Wouldst thou a trembling flame expand
That hastens in the lamp to die?
With careful touch, with sparing hand,
The feeding stream of life supply.

But if thy flask profusely sheds
A rushing torrent o’er the blaze,
Swift round the sinking flame it spreads,
And kills the fire it fain would raise.


Translation by J.D. Carlyle


Sohrab Sepehri
1928 – 1980

Let’s not soil the water:
Perhaps a pigeon is drinking down there
Or a thrush dipping its wing by a far thicket
Or a pitcher being filled in a village.

Let’s not soil the water.
This stream is perhaps running to a white aspen
To sooth a lonely heart.
A dervish may have dipped his dry bread there.

A lovely lady has come to the stream.
Let’s not soil the water.
Beauty is doubled.

Sweet water!
Clear stream!
People are so affable there!
May their streams bubble!
And their cows produce abundant milk!
Never have I visited their village.
Their hedges must bear God’s footprints.
There, moonshine illuminates the expanse of speech.
No doubt, the fences are low in yonder village.
And its inhabitants know what peonies are.
No doubt, blue is blue there.

A bud blossoms! People know it.
What a glorious village it must be!
May its alleyways overflow with music!
The people living by the stream understand water.
They did not soil it
Nor should we.

Translation by Ismail Salami

An Honored and Sincere Friend

Qeysar Aminpour
1959 – 2007


Once I thought that God has
A home near the clouds, full of glory—
Like a king has a castle in a children’s story.
With diamond bricks and gold the castle was made,
The base of its towers, ivory and crystal laid.

I thought that You sit on Your throne with pride.
While the Moon, a tiny glimmer on Your robe, rides.
The pattern of Your robe, the moonbeams draw.
A small jewel in Your crown, every star I saw.
Our sun was no more than a button on Your vest.
The sky, a small part of Your coat, so I guessed.
But no one has seen where You live or rest.

I thought that You did not want us to know.
I was so sad for this image of God here below.
My thoughts in prayer were out of fear, it’s true—
Of what a very angry God might do.
Prayer was like memorizing a lesson in school,
Reviewing geometry or math, without any rules.
Prayer was the punishment of a principal, who
Wanted answers to questions no one knew,
Or told you to form tenses of verbs no one used.

Then one night with my father, hand in hand,
We walked down a village road in our land.
There we saw a welcoming home.
I asked without waiting, “Whose is it, do you know?”
“It is God’s noble house,” my father replied.
“We can stay here awhile and pray inside.
We can pray here in quiet, beyond the sight of men,
We can make ourselves fresh and clean again.
We will talk with our conscience and learn what to do.”
“But does that angry God have a home here too?!”
To my question my father replied,
“Yes, God’s home is in our hearts, it is inside.
God’s house is covered with carpet soft and bright.
God is a mirror in our hearts full of light.
God is forgiving and hatred does not know. . .”
And suddenly I knew my love for this God would grow.
This familiar and kind God is mine, and will be—
A friend closer than myself to me.
Close to me as my very own life.
A good and an honored Friend
In Whom I delight.


Ahmad Shamlou
1925 – 2000


He who says I love you
is a mournful minstrel
who has lost his song.

If only love
had a tongue to speak.

A thousand happy larks
fly in your eyes,
a thousand canaries
fall silent in my throat.

If only love
had a tongue to speak.

He who says I love you
is the night’s blue heart
searching for moonlight.

If only love
had a tongue to speak.

A thousand laughing suns
in your footsteps,
a thousand weeping stars
in my desire.

If only love could speak.

Derelict Village

Gulrukhsor Safieva
b. 1947


Dead rivers.
Naked glaze.
At the heavenly threshing-floor-
Cloud stack.

Drunken whirlwind is dancing,
Whimper old dog.
From the sunny disc
Yawning coldly

To the earth – the prophet…

In broken mirror-
A broken light of face.
The winter is lighting up it’s cigar
At he porch.
The color blood – ashy black…
The death has sent
It’s messenger to the hut.
Pain – is the death of will-
The patience of the wise man.
At last Confuzio, has matured,
Beginning from the end.

It Is Night

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 125th birthday.

Nima Yooshij
1895 – 1960


A night of deep darkness.
On a branch of the old fig tree
A frog croaks without cease,
Predicting a storm, a deluge,
and I am drowned in fear.

It is night,

And with night the world seems
like a corpse in the grave;
And in fear I say to myself:
‘What if torrential rain falls everywhere?’
‘What if the rain does not stop
until the earth sinks into the water
like a small boat?’

In this night of awful darkness

Who can say in what state we will be
when dawn breaks?
Will the morning light make
the frightening face of the storm