Poetry | ‘Romeo and Juliet of the East’ by Mariam Saidan | Issue 38 (Feb, 2021)

Romeo and Juliet of the East

… and then the hungry joggers 

sweating on empty stomach 

behind the bars 

around the fence.

Pavement heaves, 

dims with pandemic. 

Parc Monceau.

It’s time to dream. 

The birds and the trees 

look through the gates, 

my room, only steps away,


becomes a sanctuary, 

Leyli’s room in Arabia!

She’s fallen ill

beside her husband.


“virgin love” for another man.

 her would-be lover,

Majnūn (his tribe Banu ‘Amir called him thus)



room swirls, spirals, slides,

sickness spreads, 

Leyli’s confined.

Majnūn worships,

his legs take him round and round.

A pilgrimage, 

not God, but something real. 

His lips

open, close, meet,

move apart, close, 

open, gasp for air,

recite, shout, weep.

Leyli’s heat 

melts in the walls, 

but cannot escape

husband, father,


She breathes.

They remove the steaming cloth, 

press a fresh one

cool and wet

her skin,

fresh coal

burns, burns,

and burns.

In the evening,

they bury her 

in Père-Lachaise.

No investigation,

died of a broken heart

case closed.


his tongue stuck in his jaw, 

begins to sound like a crow. 

He may well be a crow,

pecking at the tombstone 

(lit from within)

and as his lungs, arms, eyes 

keep hardening,

isolated, in the 

brute heart of the grave,

he caws.

Mariam Saidan is Iranian/British and has worked in the Human Rights field, studied Public International Law in Tehran, Human Rights Law at University of Nottingham, and Creative Writing at Kent University. Her recent most publication can be found at ‘inksweat&tears’.

One thought on “Poetry | ‘Romeo and Juliet of the East’ by Mariam Saidan | Issue 38 (Feb, 2021)

  1. very well done. raw and powerful.
    “ pecking at the tombstone………..
    he caws”

    so touching. Keep writing.

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