Songs of Prison

Songs of Prison

“Songs of Prison”, is a collection of poetry by my father, Amir-Hossein Sajadieh, published in a bilingual edition in Farsi and English in 2017, in Iran. I translated these poems and recreated them into English poetry along with Nader Rafiei and in collaboration with Stephanie Ringstaff.

Song 21: Refuge

When the moon went beyond the night
I dreamed of when I was an infant

When the ceiling was barred
Barred and blocked
When the moon was a mother
Nursing me
When I was thirsty

When the cries of my nursing days
Gave way to screams of pain in the interrogation room
In the dryness of my mouth

When the ceiling was barred
When the moon nursed me no more
And covered her breasts
With robes of concrete
When the moon faded away

When dreams were getting lost
In bright milky halos
In concrete ceilings
In sleep, fear and wakefulness

When the cries of my nursing days
Were emerging from
The screams and screams of torment
In the interrogation room

When the moon faded away in the dark night
When the cries of my nursing days
Woke me up with thirst

When the moon went beyond the night

Song 16: Homecoming

The wind came out of the walls.
The wind
Took long, long steps,
Setting foot beyond the walls,
Beyond the forbidden words.

The wind had abandoned time,
The merry dancing wind.

The wind
With two long legs,
Two long human legs,
Had fled
From the enclosure,
Through the walls,
Fled captivity.

He strode.

When he reached the square,
Beaming, lithesome
He greeted the shadows:
Shadows hanging from the poles,
The shadows in the execution square.
The wind said “hello?”
But nobody would respond.

“Hello! Hello . . .”
The wind gave the shadows a shaking.

Nobody would give him a response.

The wind lingered
A little longer
Then went away.
Far, far away
The wind began wailing in the wilderness.

Song 50: A Happy New Year!

Even in solitary
The Fresh scent of rain hangs in the air
The scent of spring and the renewal of the year.

The neighboring cell is sending a message
His fist to the wall —
Morse Code
With trepidation.

Happy Spring
New Year’s day!

I tap out in reply
Fist to the wall.
Happy Norouz , my friend!

In solitary
Even the fresh scent of spring rain
Is tempered with
The trembling of fear.

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