Poems: Lanat Abad / The Place of the Damned & [Persian Letters]

Two poems by Solmaz Sharif

Lanat Abad / The Place of the Damned

By Solmaz Sharif

this mangy plot where

by now
only mothers still come,

only mothers guard the nameless plots

and then sparingly

Peepholes burnt through the metal doors

of their solitary cells,

just large enough
for three fingers to curl out
for a lemon to pass through
for an ear to be held against
for one eye then the other
to regard the hallway
to regard the cell and inmate

peepholes without a lens

so when the guard comes to inspect me,
I inspect him.

Touch me, he said.

And through that opening

I did.

Source: Poetry (December 2014)

Lanat Abad (the place of the damned) is the name given to the graveyard of dissidents executed by the Islamic regime in Iran.

Posted on Poetry Foundation

[Persian Letters]

By Solmaz Sharif

Dear Aleph,

Like Ovid: I’ll have no last words.
This is what it means to die among barbarians. Bar bar bar
was how the Greeks heard our speech —
sheep, beasts — and so we became
barbarians. We make them reveal
the brutes they are, Aleph, by the things
we make them name. David,
they tell me, is the one
one should aspire to, but ever since
I first heard them say Philistine
I’ve known I am Goliath
if I am anything.

Source: Poetry (December 2014)

Posted on Poetry Foundation

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