Coming to Maine to Study Abroad (extras)
Poems by Amin Esmaielpour
Lamp and Mirror
The time was faint and hesitating.
There, I threw a glance at something.
I threw a glance of agony at him.
His eyes betokened wonted fear, dim
And dimmer. A semi- and demi-semi
Uneasy feeling. Then he said to me:
“What is it you see? Tell me, dear.”
It was a sort of torture in the air
And a tendency to tell something,
– Anything, definable for the feeling.
I gazed dramatically into the face,
Less into the eyes. And in measured pace:
“What do I see?” I said, to gain more time.
But time itself refused to chime.
The wonder was I was wonted to all
Amorphous face and fear. That– was– all.
But I then murmured, “Oh”, and again, “Oh”.
“What is it–what?” he said, but low.
From eye to nose and back to eye,
From sigh to tone and back to sigh,
From lips to mouthing and back to lips,
From glimpse to gaze and back to glimpse,
From fear to the figure and back to fear.
So back and forth: Undone, unclear.
Supremely so, extremely little else.
I rubbed his face with my hand. Now less faceless.
And I, since I had no good thought to declare
Turned the lamp off. –A man, beset by cares,
Left the bathroom, and turned to my affairs.
Afghan Box Camera Project
Islam, Muhammad, beauty, crime of loving,
Crime of featuring two lovers in your poetry,
For that would defile your honor.
The purpose-driven life of having
To choose between two potential lovers–
And, if not, you attempt some means of suicide
Or lock a door behind you
And set yourself alight.
–A poet who then dies tender.
Yet, your body could not be good tinder
To set alight, a lantern maybe, for dark minds.
But, it’s no crime if they don’t let you study,
And you write the world thus:
You won’t allow me to go to school,
I won’t become a doctor;
One day, you will be sick.
It is no crime if they drown you in Helmand River;
No crime if your husband’s brother
Shaves your head and
Chops you into pieces, like a duck, or a chicken.
But it’s a crime if you question God’s will
With a distinctive language and voice.
I suppose your God is my sick God,
Who’s deaf and dull
When it comes to the Middle East,
And I still wonder who or what could
Cure your sick nation. You, who are
Sick of war, sick of writing in stealth;
Sick of forced lovemaking with someone
Old, older than your father!
Sick of crying Give me water, Give me water.
And no one gives you water, so, you burn.
Out, out, young poet!
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow
We may wonder: why she burnt at all.
I could not summarize your story
In one landai, or rubaiyat, or quatrain
Addressed to the Taliban, to the world, to you,
Or to the West, who tells you to eat
Two kilos of tomatoes
To be cured of cancer!
But you are my poet sister
In the Himalayan foothills
Uttering your landai under
The pouring of peace-seeking, peace-bringing bombs,
While you mouth words into the sky of my sick God,
And the Taliban’s one-eyed leader is at your back,
And your coward lover is stealing looks at you
From a safe distance.
You seem alone, behind these high walls,
But I tell you this:
They won’t allow you to go to school,
You won’t become a doctor.
But, one day, they will be sick,
My Afghan poet-martyr.
(Writer retains all rights)