I’m expecting you now, Obadiah!
In the valley of judgment

I’ve seen manacled messengers
whose socialist books
the furnaces devoured
and on the borders of stupidity
their passports expired.
Chains hanging from their testicles,
anuses ripped from pain,
they waited in solitary bathrooms,
and there I was
sitting by my children
and I didn’t ask for your hymns, Obadiah.

Tell the tribes to gather
in the valley of judgment.
I’ll be sitting there
and I’ll promise a last chance,
promise columns of smoke
and clear signs of suffering: black sackcloth
                                        green headbands
                                        agate stones
                                        the constant cymbals of lament.
                                        And the trees amidst so many tied locks
                                        will lose their fruits,
                                        and amidst the hanging ribbons,
                                                  their leaves.

I insist
for the sake of the children, Obadiah,
for the sake of the animals…
because I hate your every-now-and-then anthems,
because I hate the smell of your socks in the stone mihrabs.

Maybe I’ll send an earthquake
                    to my house, Obadiah.
                    Until the stray travelers
                    return home
I want      to be a gypsy, Obadiah,
or a tenant
who for her neighbor, sometimes prepares a bowl of barley soup.

RoyaZarrin_80.jpgRoya Zarrin was born in Aligoodarz in Lorestan province, Iran. Her first book of poems, The Earth Needs the Lover’s Incantation, was a finalist for the Karnameh prize. Her third book, I Want to Swallow my Children, won the 2008 Khorshid prize, a new annual award for the best poetry book written by a female author. A selection of recent, unpublished poems was a co-winner of the Nima prize.

Kaveh Bassiri is the co-founder of Triptych Readings, which presents established and emerging poets, and the Literary Arts Director of Persian Arts Festival, which runs a monthly poetry reading at Bowery Poetry Club in New York City. His poetry won the Bellingham Review’s 49th Parallel Award and is forthcoming in Virginia Quarterly Review, Mississippi Review, Harpur Palate, and Drunken Boat.

Poet’s Recommendations:

The Heights of Macchu Picchu by Pablo Neruda.

A Cloud in Trousers by Vladimir Mayakovsky.

The Poems of Nazim Hikmet.

Homepage photo by Dimitris Papazimouris via Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/papazimouris/3183559178

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