Iranian Edition (Vol I) | Poetry by Majid Naficy | Issue 39 (2021)

Under One Umbrella
By Majid Naficy

The geese do not fit in one pond
The seagulls on one lookout
Nor you and I under one umbrella.

And yet, it rains equally
Over raspberry bushes,
Anis weed and poison oak,
Over the waveless bay,
The bike path, and our words.

Let us close this umbrella
And skip in the rain.
Perhaps it will wash us
And bring our hearts
Closer together.


Mask
By Majid Naficy

To Shayda

If your mother were at your side
She would make you a sword
Six feet long
So that you could hold it in your hand
And go out of the house
Fearlessly.

But now
She has sent you a mask
Made of two cotton fabrics
To cover your nose and mouth
With two shoelaces
To tie behind your head.

She remembers the nights
You couldn’t breathe
Sitting behind your nebulizer
And fighting a ghoul
Who had his foot
On your chest.


A Nowruz Card to Evin Prison
By Majid Naficy

Aha! That’s the one I want:
A simple Nowruz* card
With raised and golden margins,
The design of a narcissus flower,
The scent of Georgian biscuits
And “May spring be blissful!”

Today from exile
I send this card to bloody Evin*
For a loved one in prison
Who at the time of arrest
Had gone to mountains with friends
To sing the songs of Nowruz.

Nowruz will come
From the snow-capped Mountain of Damavand*
To the confines of prison and exile
And no fatwa can delay
The day it will arrive.

*- Nowruz or the Persian New year is celebrated on the first day of spring. It is a pre-Islamic festival and the theocracy does not welcome it.
*- A notorious political prison in Tehran.
*- The highest mountain in Iran.


A Watercress Pot
By Majid Naficy

Let it fill you as if you were a sprout pot
And grow like fragrant watercress
Out of your hands.
The New Year will come,*
And you will sit
At the cloth of the “seven s’s”.
You will look in the mirror
And along with the red goldfish
You will be freed
From the confines of the fishbowl.
And you will pass
From the lonely ash tree,
The stately hyacinth,
The anxious garlic,
The drunken vinegar,
And the happy silver coin.
And along with the bard of Shiraz*
You will be filled with the sound of love.
And so, why be sad?
When the Thirteenth Day comes
You’ll go with the flowing water
And speak to the sky and the earth
Of the beautiful moments of love.

*- On Nowruz or the Persian New Year which coincides with the first day of spring, it is traditional to spread on a cloth seven items, the names of which all begin with the letter sin (“s”).
These “seven s’s” are typically ash tree, hyacinth, garlic, vinegar, a coin, sprouts
(wheat, watercress, or other), and sumac. Other items put on the cloth (not beginning
with sin) are a goldfish (in a fishbowl), a mirror, and either a Koran or a copy
of Hafez’s collection of poems. Thirteen days later, in order to avoid bad luck, people must go out for picnics and cast their sprouts into streams.
*- An allusion to a verse of Hafez, the fourteenth century Persian poet.


Majid Naficy, the Arthur Rimbaud of Persian poetry, fled Iran in 1983, a year and a half after the execution of his wife, Ezzat in Tehran. Since 1984 Majid has been living in West Los Angeles. He has published two collections of poetry in English Muddy Shoes (Beyond Baroque, Books, 1999) and Father and Son (Red Hen Press, 2003) as well as his doctoral dissertation at UCLA Modernism and Ideology in Persian Literature: A Return to Nature in the Poetry of Nima Yushij (University Press of America, 1997). Majid has also published more than twenty books of poetry and essays in Persian.

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