I am writing of the morning of fair dreams,
of the dancing of your hands; those beautiful
lithe hands that hoist before the new morning.
Your songs I record—in intoxication and
in defeat and victory—not for history or pride,
not for eternity but for the moment of freedom
amidst blood, fire and turmoil.
What would this half-way return
from the inferno of death
do to me, o, young hands?
I will return this time, with some knowledge
burning hotter than my hell, and pick a
sledgehammer; write with the sledgehammer
on an anvil these intact beatings of my words.
Sahib! I am talking to you about
the small pleasures of life. I despise songs
and praises when I see your dead ones—
those who saw death on par with life—
embracing it head on.
Tomorrow is a withered tuberose that I gift to
my friend or wife. Tomorrow is a bird feather
flapping between the winds of trying times.
Woman! Keep the tuberose for me.
When it has dried, place a trace of my memory
in the pages of the brand-new Qur’an.
I am writing of the morning—of bad borders
when the wind and lightning pound
on your rooftops, o, you, the lone children.
I am writing to make peace between the pointless
days of my life and a new love, a grave death.
MOHAMMAD-ALI SEPANLOU, an Iranian poet, author and literary critic, was born in November 1940. Nicknamed the Poet of Tehran, Sepanlou published more than 60 volumes of poetry and essays. He was also a founding member of the Writers’ Association of Iran. Among other accolades, Sepanlou was the recipient of Légion d’honneur and Le prix Max-Jacob for his scholarly and literary achievements. He died in May 2015, aged 74.
SIAVASH SAADLOU is the recipient of the 55th Cole Swensen Prize for Translation. In addition, his poems have been anthologized in Essential Voices: Poetry of Iran and Its Diaspora (Green Linden Press), and his short stories and essays have appeared in Plenitude Magazine, Southeast Review, and Minor Literature[s], among other journals. He is currently a candidate in the MFA creative writing program at University of British Columbia.
HELENA PANTSIS (she/they) is a writer and artist from Naarm, Australia. A full-time student of creative writing, they have a fond appreciation for the gritty, the dark, and the experimental. Her works are published in Overland, Island, Going Down Swinging, and Meanjin. More can be found at hlnpnts.com.