Poems in English by Mohammad Tavallaei

The Poet, Poetry and Paper

Poetry is an umbilical cord
Connecting the poet with Mother-God-Nature.
He comes into existence with
The birth of every chicken, pup or baby
Shining with the moon and stars
He blooms with orange trees
Makes appointments with death
To kiss her lips constantly
And turns into words
To describe the world to the world
And every white page is a lover
Emerging from behind windows
Of a train in the station
Waiting to get off
And embrace his beloved.

Mohammad Tavallaei , Urumia, Iran,  Saturday, April 21, 2018



The world was a pack of lies
And he hated the realist life of his contemporaries.
Feeling terribly burdened and falling into
A cycle of depressions, heavy drinking and fights,
His efforts did not ameliorate his situation
And he could not fulfil his role as a father and a husband.
Nobody cared about him.
Love was just like jumping from a skyscraper
And although he wished for a kingdom of heaven
He was living in an amoral world and the kingdom of hell.
His dreams had been betrayed both physically and spiritually
And whether he sat around doing nothing
Or did all the donkey work,
He was unable to find a personal solution to his problems….

The movements of his body were mechanical
And laughable as they reminded him of machines.
In favor of a surrealist life,
He succumbed to temptations of metamorphosis.
He cross-dressed and acted like the opposite sex,
But diagnosed for mental health disorder,
He was kept at home.

One day, like a caterpillar, he stopped eating
And hung upside-down from the iron bar in the cellar
And waited and waited for a silky cocoon
Within its protective casing
To radically transform his body
And eventually emerge as a butterfly.
However, the abrupt change in the body structure
Through cell growth seemed impossible
In the animal kingdom.

The other day, as his wife woke up
She did not find him in bed
But as she looked out of the window,
She perceived in the yard a perennial plant
With an elongated trunk supporting branches and leaves.

Mohammad Tavallaei, Urumia, Iran. Wednesday, April 18, 2018


Elegy for Zhaleh Alamtaj Ghaemmaghami[1]:
A Poetical Prose

A sexual object transacted as a bride,
Exchanged for money, traded and sold,
Cannot sleep with whom she wants….
Had a fortuneteller ever told your fortune
By looking at the lines on your hands?
Did your parents consult anyone for advice?
And did they consult the Quran or Hafez
In order to decide about your marriage?

Your body was your destiny
And like our mothers and sisters’
The same curse was laid upon you,
For sex oppression is part of our heritage
And we equate female sexuality with
Degeneration, moral corruption and death.

Your matrimony was unchaste, impure
And, in a sense, “incestuous” because
Your husband was at the same age as your father.
(His daughters, from his other wives, were older than you.)
Thus, your son is an accursed breed
And your hatred towards your husband is justifiable.
As a military man, he could never understand your mentality’
(Einstein rightly said: “He who marches does not need a brain…” )

He was looking for a quiet submissive wife
To obey his every word,
But you did not want to be controlled,
To be submissive, and decorative and a sex object.
You also refused to be a scarab In a town turned into dung[2].
Through words, you sharpened our sense of smell
And encouraged us to avoid any type of foul odor.

In your hapless condition,
You were an advocate of justice,
And despite centuries of our deafness
And deliberate systematic muting,
You had a right to be heard.
You usurped the male-gendered language and poetics[3] And wrote poetry to punish the evil appropriately
And reward the good as they should be
And searched for the cause of the disease ravaging our city.

Yet you were a sacrificial scapegoat.
Matrimony had cast a doom over you
And it was your fate to die a victim.
You were killed into art by corruption of
Those who kill human creativity.

They burnt your poems apparently by your own hands….
Those poems epitomize the history of book burning In suppressing dissenting voices.
Burning one’s written works is also
The supreme manifestation of self-immolation.

We read the few poems saved from fire,
With great enjoyment and admiration,
And John rightly says,
“Heard melodies are sweet But those unheard are sweeter.”

In trees swaying in the wind,
In rising and setting of the sun
In flight and singing of birds
And in everything that looks beautiful and good
We read your burnt poems.

Mohammad Tavallaei Urumia, Iran Tuesday, 17 April, 2018

[1] Zhaleh Alamtaj Ghaemmaghami (1883-1946) born in Farahan, Arak, Iran was the great-grand-daughter of Ghaemmagham Farahani, the Prime Minister of Mohammad Shah Kadjar. At age five, she started learning Persian, Arabic, grammar, rhetoric till fifteen. Then because of financial problems, her parents forced her to marry a much older military man. She is the mother of the poet, Pejmane Bakhtiari

[2] If the whole town turns into dung/ One should not change into a scarab. Divan Alamtaj ghaemmaghami Zhaleh, [In Persian], Through the Endeavor of Ahmad Karami, Sherkat Chape Khajeh, Tehran, Iran. (Solar Year 1374.)

[3] Zhaleh had taken refuge into the literary forms of qasida and qateeh which have been dominated and used by male poets throughout the ages. The poems she burnt were in ghazel form, a lyric love song.

Mohammad Tavallaei’s poems were written in English.

Tavallahi’s anthology: Perennial Persian Pictures Paperback was published in November 24, 2017

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