To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Mohsen Emadi: Two Poems from “Standing on Earth”

Translation from Persian by Lyn Coffin

laws of gravity 

On your planet, an apple falls from the tree
and Newton discovers the laws of gravity.

On my planet, the telephone rings.
Newton picks up the receiver,
is hurled into the air,
and gets stuck in the branches of a tree.
I prefer to sit
on the principles of natural philosophy
and bite
floating apples--
which is to say
I want to weep a little.

a street where no dog barks
is a dead street
the dogs with lolling tongues
and grab the pants of a passing poet
the poet takes off his pants
and his shirt
and naked as the day he was born
escapes into the world
the dogs bark
and run from one street to another
a poet who forgets all his words doesn't have any weight
he turns into a straw in the wind.
The wind howls in the howling of the wolves
The wolves escape in the snow
which is burying the streets.

Newton's Elegies

Stones were blocking the river's way.
I was carrying fish in my hands
in the restlessness of bodies
in the turbulence of a pail going up the valley
to the pool inhabited by the hungry look of cats.
The stones were your eyes
the fish, the words of my sonnets
that in the year of the earthquake
were joined to the four elements.
the hair of Newton was covered with pebbles
the hair of Newton was smeared with mercury
the vapor of mercury was poisoning the paper
it was killing kings. 

Newton was the acceleration of fish in the restlessness of
      the pail
in which he wanted to take stones from the river
and the earth was heavy
and his words became fish
his hair turned to poison.

sad eyes
joking eyes
covered by moss
next to each other on each other
form the walls of a prison
where the second law of Newton is being tortured
I was exiled to the first law
where neither the sound of breathing on the telephone
nor the calm growth of moss under contact lenses
      could reach--
just the solidifying voice of Newton
and the clots of blood on the surface of the prison
      wrote me.
Mercury is the struggle of eternity
stone is the age of earth in the second law of Newton,
the law condemned by the relativity of your eyes
that is released from Dachau
and scatters in the galaxy along with the Berlin wall.
Sad eyes
joking eyes
hang from the hair of Newton
in my abyss
the language.

With the first kiss
language attains
universal dimensions:
kisses build on the third law of Newton
a temple
which, later,
falls on Hiroshima.
The lips of cold wars
the lips of geography…
Mercury trembles in the mirror.
A pail of water
has been thrown on my image
The fish
are stuck to the magnet of my body.
The meat-eating fish
the small fish of the pool
are swimming within my borders
Their eyes are stones in the mirrors
the eyelids of the void
the eyelids of oblivion
O, solitude of Newton on the lips of women
O, vapor of mercury in the lullabies of mothers
O, philosopher's stone and tear gas.

Night sits back against the salt licks.
The moon shakes off the footsteps of astronauts
and your eyes overflow with time.
Your tears pass
from Newton's nightmares
into my poems
the words in a river of tears

O, the cold shroud of the paper
O, the white eternity
O, the absolute snow.

[Reprinted from M. Emadi, Standing on Earth, recently published by Phoneme Media, Los Angeles.]

Born in Iran, Mohsen Emadi is the award-winning author of four collections of poetry published in Iran and Spain. He has also translated numerous collections of poetry. Emadi studied Computer Engineering in Sharif University of Technology in Iran and Digital Culture at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland. He is the founder and manager of Ahmad Shamlou's official website, and The House of World Poets, a Persian anthology of world poetry featuring more than 500 poets from around the world. He was awarded the Premio de Poesia de Miedo in 2010 and IV Beca de Antonio Machado in 2011. Emadi has lived in Iran, Finland, the Czech Republic, and Spain, and is now based in Mexico City.
     In an accompanying statement to Emadi’s new book, Nathalie Handal writes: “Standing on Earth by Mohsen Emadi is a suddenness of echoes mooring us to the mystical within. The poems witness sorrow lifting, a nation sinking, and breath colliding with itself. A solitude lingers at the heart of each line. A profound reflection. An infinite sigh. This collection, lyrical and imagistic, where between death and silence is remembrance, where shadow after shadow resides, ‘whispers: guess who it is…’ And the poet leaves us wondering because it is wonder that takes us closer to love's many versions, to an intimacy weaved in nation and exile. The poems in this unforgettable collection ground us, and give us flight."

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