Category Archives: Poetry
valentine for a dying friend
the last time i saw you Caro
in a bed in palliative care
it was clear
that you don’t need to go on a diet
skin draped over those fine bones
but you were remarkably interested
in my work and the life that was going on
around you and would go on
and almost enjoying the new adventure
entering the voyage with an excitement
that reminded me of how small children
enter the new adventure of life
not knowing or caring what came before
just as you don’t know or much care
what may come after
when we last spoke i recalled how
soon after my mother’s death she appeared
at the foot of her grandchild’s bed
and told him that she was in a good place
and not to worry
in recounting that event i clearly saw
that she still lived in little Adion’s heart
and that we who must die will live on
in the hearts that remember something of us
that they will pass on to those
who will love and remember them
so i leave this gift Caro
woven from what we shared
in this life that is deeper than a dream
and rounded with
something stranger than a sleep
Hashem Shaabani was executed in an unidentified prison in late January, the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre writes.
He had been sentenced to death in July 2012 by the Ahvaz Islamic Revolutionary Court for muharibih (“waging war on God”), sowing corruption on earth, propaganda against the Islamic Republic and acting against national security, it adds.
Shaabani, a member of the Arabic-speaking Ahvazis ethnic minority, was the founder of an organisation promoting Arabic culture and literature in Iran known as the Dialogue Institute and was popular for his Arabic and Persian poems, Al Jazeera reports.
It adds the 32-year-old often spoke out against the treatment of ethnic Arabs in the province of Khuzestan.
Following is the translation of a poem that Shaabani smuggled out of prison.
SEVEN REASONS WHY I SHOULD DIE
For seven days they shouted at me: You are waging war on Allah!
Saturday: Because you are an Arab.
Sunday: Well, you are from Ahvaz.
Monday: Remember you are Iranian.
Tuesday: You mock the sacred Revolution.
Wednesday: Didn’t you raise your voice for others?
Thursday: You are a poet and a bard.
Friday: You’re a man, isn’t that enough to die?
I just had an article come out in our Star -http://www.nelsonstar.com/community/241351941.html – so having a spot in the Elephant Mtn network is rather timely. If there were room for a preliminary blurb to the poem, perhaps something like:
Poetry brings closer the things which are challenging to express. Especially the esoteric which by its nature is inherently elusive. In sixty-four poems, ‘The Book of Gardens: A Lover’s Manual for Planet Earth,’ reveal the study of mindfulness meditation as given to us in the I-Ching, the Chinese classic ‘book of changes.’ These poems become the bridge, something ever-at-the-ready to cross, travelling into a landscape which otherwise remains foreign. Below is an excerpt from the long-poem at the back of the book “The Shorelines of Johnson’s Landing” which points toward that territory of a pure reverie, a common and unceasing longing, seemingly unique to each of us. Proceeds from this book will be donated to the Johnson’s Landing Community to aid in the recovery and transition from the largest landslide to hit the area in 12,000 years. Copies can be purchased at www.thebookofgardens.com at Otter Books, Shanti Yoga, and BookSymth. Best – Phil
held by rain and cloud upon this hill
the wind blows, the house creaks, the jays
descend, and the woodpecker and mice fall
into their slow invasion: the owl by night
hawks and eagles by day, even in this rain
the chipmunk keeping ridiculous company
up from the lakeside, the wish to be down
by the shore, rising so full. for there, returns
all dreams of Otherness: the secrets of a surface
the whole bird flocking, its song backward in its throat
its wishing guided no less by insane fancy; for the wish to be
beside the sea is far within, under the sediments of fear fusing
with the flux of fascination how the deciduous worry
of wind beside the conifers embrace of it
. there is a driftwood at the waters edge knowing of a slow river
a slow river which has made its nest inside a mountain
letting hard tides fall slowly, their bodies into footprints
and footfalls and fossils guiding them onward
and downward – though all be onward
down to where the lake slipped
and keeps falling upon itself
. and unto every day
: the turn of zodiac
the impetus of Flood
each life by each life
this damning economy two lips of flame
cupping an always invincible shadow, moving
as a lake textured by but a patch of wind
yet let not these shadows rule
but simply be that a shadow be known
for the sweet do all too often conceal
their sweetness even from themselves
to pursue a malnourished light
deep unto some darkness
again – but not these trees :
blind and bright chorus
who knew of music before the clouds of early day
crawling up this mountain of late fall
operatic inevitable and loving it
for the tree itself is too but a shadow
and let not
the below waves down this hill
be of too great interest either : but after
where one can still hear in the wave
the vacationing stream the knowledge of mountainside
past the million temples – trees or stone – all of the single alter joyously
unignorant of sacrifice
: unto this beach the sunken and broken
are made whole in sand ; warmed and warming
the oceans anterior to these mountains
the Atlantis to the Atlanteans
Pangaea not sunk but risen aching erect, yet crippled, aging in the stretching sun
crumbling . . .
so these ashes too will be of use
where every creek cuts itself into tributaries reaching until reached
for there is nothing unless for these trees forevergiving the breath of their
nothing except the longing of nothing
except night crammed with night
night sky in a prisoners robe
alternating lament with wonder
eroticized only by gods into day
and the certain beauty of the daisy feigning innocence
disguising the sorrow germinated – cultured – on the passions
on clamour while unfathomably silence is
bathing in the sun with no one watching
the long plains of black as night, as crow
an unseen face, images dissolving, in the
sun, celebration, of winds waking a cloud
the shades of white
rice paper, laid upon her painter’s table
as black and white
create grey marriages, moving as slow
as the ancient turtle, as fast as a hungry
cry at dawn
a small bowl of green tea
a Chinese opera playing, so sweet, delicate lovers
oh, the first kiss, and the last
so very opaque, and strikingly calm
the night and the day, as song
a hint of spring, upon my easel
grey marriages, absorbed in the wind
we dine, in our hearts, between
the light and the dark
grey marriages, the chi of quiet’s
music, so thin, as we wait
together, a partner of contrast
the kind night, invites a day
of shadows and simplicity
for the Chinese brush painter’s
way of making her quiet
a grey marriage, of brush and symphony
a celebration of what is
take history for example: a silver hue, almost
invisible; almost never. only when mentioned,
as a matter of fact. “i am
responsible,” i then admit, “for my vessel.
there, i said it. are you happy now?” her
quizzical look. “i’m just saying that i am way
my wings are like bricks.” she wedges antlers
into the blowhole, keyhole, into the shifting
window, hollers into
“bring me your love! bring me your best
antlers morph into a surgical straw and broken
neck. weather leaks out. w e a t h e r l e a k s . w
e a t h e r .
silver seepage. “i am thirstier
than medical literature. i am danger
in the language.” “c’mon! c’mon! push
air! maintain density!
yer not vapour yet!
a new silver lining.
what’d i tell ya?”
again she pushes her fingers through,
“what’d i tell ya huh?”
my heart elastic and smooth. now,
take history for example, and evolve into additional fluids.
means more than wetter, yes.”
I know it’s true, I can see it with my own eyes
you’re standing in the kitchen
you came it through the front door
your uniform is crisp and shines with medals
Proof of how heroic this whole tragedy was
So I see, that you’re home now
But you’re looking around like you’ve never been here
like you didn’t lay that floor with your bare hands
like we weren’t married in this very room
like you didn’t make love to me on that table right before you left me
You left me
you left me
and they tell me that you’re home now
but all you see are dreams
and all I see are ghosts
You left me
And it’s taken years to figure out how to breath
years to teach my heart to beat around he breaks
years to learn my life without you in it
to convince myself that I could
But you’re home now
you came in through the front door
wearing that same look
the one you had every time I said
I love you
the one that’s waiting for me to take it back
You’re home now and I don’t know if I can back track over
the years I pretended I was fine more hours than I slept
the years I prayed almost as much as I cried
the years I told myself I didn’t need you
the years I almost believed it
But you’re home now
and I can try
You’re home now
You’re home now
Treasure is that of the Treasurer
I have a tendency, or rather, an obsession with collecting rocks. For the longest time I never fully understood why, nor can I recall when it began, yet it remains a habit. Whenever I’m at a beach, a park, or travelling afar, I catch myself probing; sneaking a peak of the ground below, searching for the perfect few to add to the collection. This habit puzzled my family, and frankly, it puzzled me for a while too; you probably think it weird as well and I honestly don’t blame you. “What is that shirtless girl doing down by the shore?” Well, that was me when I was four. I hadn’t a bag so, improvising, I carefully carried my bundle of rocks in my blouse. My siblings looked upon in utter bewilderment, one even daring to disengage my grip from those treasures. My hands tightened. They dissed my rocks as dirt, not delighting in them as I did, not sharing the same desire. It was then that I realized why. Not everyone looked upon little pebbles and stones with the same eyes; with the same mind. To me they were not just little gatherings of dust, nor did I only appreciate their splash of colour as they lay beneath the waves; no, they meant much more. They signified the place and time from which they were found, the experience I so happened to enjoy and wanted to remember. They were tokens and little time-banks of my thoughts and feelings, my sights and senses of particular places and times in my life. I thought they were beautiful, those little stones, because of how I beheld them. Because beauty itself simply is subjective. It was now clear why, what in my eyes was regarded purely as treasure, could also be considered trash to another. Treasure is that of the treasurer.
The art lover in awe of a painting. She admires it from all angles, standing afar to appreciate the work as a whole, and then observing at arm’s length the skill and precision of each stroke. The deep hues of blue and crimson, layer upon layer of rich colour engulfing her. She can submerge herself in the abstractionism and lose herself entirely, forgetting about her prior place and the problems of that now distant person. This piece speaks to her, it brings her peace. It provokes a personal connection and relates her back to former memories, each with their own emotion. A flood of feelings wash over her and she is deluged, drenched by the sea of imagery. To her, a picture really is worth a thousand words. A thousand strokes, a thousand colours, a thousand thoughts. She observes these each as their own treasure, painting herself as an art treasurer.
The advocate for the preservation, restoration, and improvement of our natural world, the environmentalist. One of many whom share these same ideals, who has hopes for a cleaner, healthier, and more peaceful planet. She surrounds herself in the natural surroundings. The forest, lakes, and fields bring her the most joy, the sunsets a more spectacular sight than even the greatest CG film. The wilderness is where she is most content, most at home. Not only is she fascinated and in admiration by the sheer beauty of it all, but she feels somehow also spiritually connected; To and as a mighty oak, her soul branches out and takes flight in the sky, while the soles of her feet, rooted in the soil and to the heritage of the land, travel deep within the surface, interconnecting her with everything. It is her will, her self-connection and thus self motivation, her mission to protect these resources, these treasures.
Like the environmentalist and forest fanatic, another is also in awe of the shade of green; the businessman. He too views the forest as growth, not ecological, but as economical. Two people looking upon through different eyes. To him money, quite literally, does grow on trees. He loves the green for everything it gives him, everything it gets him. The fine dining, luxurious mansion, and fancy automobile make him strive for money. It forms his social ranking and provides for better standards of life, ultimately buying his happiness. He thrives in the materialistic world, the fast paced industrialized life, loving every moment of it. He is a pirate of the planet treasuring treasure.
The one to whom beauty is seen through everything but the eyes; the blind man. He has never physically looked upon the earth, the sun, or a pretty girl, though his treasure chest outweighs that of any other. His appreciation for life and view of beauty overflows and resonates in everything around him. It is in the morning sun, streaming through the tattered, moth eaten curtains, tickling his skin and warming his blood. It is in the sounds of summer, the bird`s melody and the buzzing bees. He sees beauty everywhere and in everything, eyelids closed, but mind wide awake. His senses tingle, treasuring the euphoria in the little things. From the vibrations of a beat to the scents of spring, the smell of violets blowing in the breeze. Water, cool to the touch and fresh to the taste, a rushing river and falling rain. These are the things he sees beauty in, what makes his mind flutter and his heart happy. The beauty of a woman, not measured by makeup or vanity, but by her inner qualities, by the sound of her voice and flow of her speech; the substance of a person outweighing their ever changing appearance. The blind man sees. He polishes the treasures we left covered in dust beneath our feet.
Beauty, by its very definition, is that which makes one happy; which gives pleasure to the senses and exalts euphoria of the mind or spirit. Since this varies from person to person, from an environmentalist to a businessman, from an art lover to a blind man absent to colour, and from me to you, beauty merely is in the eye of the beholder. It is simply subjective. What one may regard as dirt or trash, another may treasure as a sparkling stone. Treasure your treasures.