A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
One: Truth and Falsehood I read in Egyption papyruses That Truth and Falsehood were brothers. One day Truth borrowed Falsehood’s dagger But lost it by misfortune. Falsehood took the case to court, Claimed the dagger was irreplaceable And asked the judge in return To blind Truth and order him To become the doorkeeper of Falsehood’s house. Today, too, a false little man Has blinded Truth By his repetitious denial of facts And made him the doorkeeper of his house And stopped journalists and scientists Who are the gatekeepers of the house of Truth From questioning and researching. If you believe in Truth Cleanse the house from Falsehood And, as the child of Truth in the Egyption legend, Rise to seek justice for Truth Until his eyes shine again. January 31, 2017 Two: Let America Become America Again The America that I knew Opened her arms to me And placed me next to her children. I had fled my homeland Where my wife was executed. A peshmerga took me to Turkey A lawyer to France And a sponsor to America. Thus I became a citizen of this country. But today, Those who separated Infants from their mothers At the Mexican border Want to remove my citizenship. No! This is not the America that I knew The America where French Protestants And English Catholics migrated, The America where German Jews Soviet defectors And non-European refugees took refuge. Let America become America again* Return infants to asylum seekers And embrace all of her children equally. July 11, 2018 * “Let America be America again” Langston Hughes Three: The Night Michelle Danced with Barack Do you remember that night, The night Michelle danced with Barack? All people danced with them, I, too, with my ex-wife In front of a giant TV In a nightclub on the corner. Do you remember that night, The night Michelle danced with Barack? I let go of cynicism Became an active citizen And shouted with the others: “Yes! We can.” Do you remember that night, The night Michelle danced with Barack? No one knew that soon Slaveholders would rise from graves And spread fear and despair With their guns and God. Do you remember that night, The night Michelle danced with Barack? That night will return again Malia will dance with Sasha And my son Azad with his ex-girlfriend And America will find another Lincoln. July 26, 2018 Four: This House Stinks This house is not yours. Go back to your concrete tower With its golden toilet! The one who will replace you Must be the leading light of this nation Not like you, the head of criminals. It is not long Until the Mississippi River Joins the Colorado And washes off your four-year filth Thoroughly from this house.* Rise, oh American Hercules Who live in the hearts of Every informed woman and man. Rise! Rise! This house stinks! May 22, 2020 * An allusion to Hercules’ washing-off the Augean stables. Five: Worm You are that apple worm which overnight Grew into a bloodthirsty dragon Like Haftvad’s worm in the “Ardashir Chronicles”.* It nested in the minds of people Drawing them to its cult. No sorrow if in our time Another Ardashir does not rise To pour molten lead in your mouth And call the people to open your castle By setting a smoking fire on the roof. No! This time, Instead of a hero, The people themselves one by one Will mail their ballots To bring you down from your seat And return you to your swamp. October 15, 2020 * Ardashir I founded the Sasanian Dynasty in Iran in 224 A. D. He slew Haftvad’s worm before crowning himself king of kings >>> Six: Tonight I Think of Trump Tonight I think of Trump Who sits in the White House alone Thinking of his defeat. He is not the Shah Who fled the Revolution And never returned home. He is not the Fuhrer Who, in his bunker in Berlin, Put a bullet in his head. He is an outgoing president Who must pick up the phone And congratulate his rival. May the Goddess of Liberty Give him courage to do this So that tolerance Replaces hatred And America becomes America again. November 6, 2020 Seven: Endpoint I am that bullet Which Hitler put in his head At his hideout. I am that blood clot Which took Stalin into a coma In his bedroom. I am that termite Which gnawed away Solomon’s cane Until his standing corpse fell*. I am that endpoint No matter if the tyrants Call themselves eternal. January 2, 2021 * The Quran 34:14. The Bible does not have this narrative.
Majid Naficy’s is the author of many books in Persian and in English, including Father & Son (Red Hen Press, 2003)
Copyright 2021 Majid Naficy