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Poetry

Day by Day

By Saeed Tavanaee Marvi
Translated from Persian by Khashayar “Kes” Mohammadi
A selection of poems by Saeed Tavanaee Marvi documenting everyday life during the uprising in Iran.
A black wire bird against a colorful background

Photo via Khashayar “Kes” Mohammadi

18/9/22

We will die one day
But we should ensure
Not to die entirely
We must stay alive enough
For that glorious day
When we come to the streets:

I, seeking the beloved,
And you, seeking freedom

***

21/9/22

Words are always victorious
Like when we say liberty
Or justice
Or equality
And you have no other words
So, you answer with bullets
And this is fundamentally flawed
Since your bullets will run out
But our words circulate mouth to mouth
And persist
Even if our throats are pierced with your bullets
Our plight for liberty echoes
And words are victorious
Since the last human
Shall utter “Liberty”

***

30/9/22

Hope arrives
Like the beloved
Letting down her hair
Opens the window
To let the moonlight
Shine through ragged clouds

*

Between all words
I pick out your name
And repeat it until
My mouth catches fire

***

7/10/22

All the innocents are clad the same
With sparkling eyes
And bleeding mouths

*

I’ve decided to conspire with the birds
To wear my speech on my heart
And to distribute shellfish
Filled with the sounds of the ocean
Among the people

*

The window is empty
Of your wind-swept hair

***

12/10/22

An epoque shall come
More Womanly
An epoque
Of rocks blooming
And us
Growing older

*

One day you shall return
And we will walk through the streets together
Without bullets prying our hands apart

***

21/10/22

Poetry can’t stop bullets
It can only swallow hatred
Or transform you into a butterfly

*

In the language of your eyes, poetry becomes light, it shines
In the language of your hair, poetry becomes wind, it blows
In the language of your lips, poetry becomes a kiss, it blooms
In the language of your ears, poetry becomes a song, it sings
In the language of your hands, poetry becomes wings, it flies
In the language of your feet, poetry becomes a deer, it flees
In the language of your womb, poetry becomes human, it brings miracles
In the language of your blood, poetry becomes rage, it rebels

***

23/10/22

It’s hard to explain someone’s death
To their clothes
To say they’re gone, and no one knows where
And you will forever remain cold

*

A woman stood by the road
A butterfly was drinking her tears

***

24/10/22

Birds were dying in the sky
And our mouths were poisoned with silence

***

28/10/22

The last human cannot be killed

***

2/11/22

I sang the songs of my heart
And the sorrowful bones of my hands
Fluoresce in the moonlight

***

6/11/22

I’ve had a dream
Where a miracle happens
That takes sadness away
From grief-stricken mothers
They become young again
Their children returning home
From faraway places

***

7/11/22

You go to the streets
Never to return
Swallowed by darkness

*

The pomegranate tree
Put its face to the windowpane
Speaking to the house

A corner of the house was mournful

*

Darkness is cold and silent
Since stars do not believe in solidarity

***

9/11/22

The moon gazed at them
From behind the closed window
The little girl told her mother:
I wish my hair was made of fire

***

10/11/22

Today’s rain is filled
With memories that tap on the window
And sigh

*

His eyes became focused on the stars
And a long silence replaced love

***

11/11/22

I don’t have anything in this world
I carry my sky on my back
And my Earth is the site for your footsteps

***

14/11/22

Every time we are shot with bullets
Every time we are dragged over the asphalt
For water
For bread
For a sliver of something akin to freedom
And not even exactly for freedom itself
We are killed
We are humiliated
With so much ease
I say to myself how do they dare
How do they give themselves permission
To waste our lives this way?
That they for sure will pay
Then I say to myself
That they
Are indeed
Already dead.

***

15/11/22

We use salt as balm for our wounds
Awaiting the day of justice

***

16/11/22

In our time
The only honor
Is being among the victims

***

18/11/22

I swear to ice
To the shot-dead child
I swear to the rainbow
After the rain

***

19/11/22

After you destroy all beauty
It’s time for grotesque beauties to be born

***

25/11/22

Everyone was asleep
Only the bird whose throat
Was kissed by the night
Was singing

*

Music
Means the sounds of the ocean
Or the breath of a woman
Dancing alone

*

Only the cliff
Will deny
The crashing of the waves

*

Even forgetting you is beautiful
Like the morning breeze that slowly
Wipes away the stars

*

I pass through the streets and the alleys
And there’s no one with me
Except the wind
That carries me towards the night

*

Now that I write this, it’s raining outside
I have no dreams
In a world that has always been on the verge of ruin
What else is there to say other than
“Be brave my passionate heart.”

 

Translator’s Note: I’ve known Saeed for a few years now, and in dark times his voice has always cut through sorrow to bring me certain visions of beauty. Saeed’s voice has a tranquil quality that can break any urgent moment into the lull of beauty. Saeed’s daily documentation of the uprisings through short poems originally posted on Instagram is morbidly fascinating, both in historical terms and in its poetic weight against the fist of the Oppressor. Writing from amid catastrophe, awaiting the unknown, Saeed brings to us a document, haunted by visions.


©
Saeed Tavanaee Marvi. Translation © January 2023 by Khashayar “Kes” Mohammadi. All rights reserved.

English
A black wire bird against a colorful background

Photo via Khashayar “Kes” Mohammadi

18/9/22

We will die one day
But we should ensure
Not to die entirely
We must stay alive enough
For that glorious day
When we come to the streets:

I, seeking the beloved,
And you, seeking freedom

***

21/9/22

Words are always victorious
Like when we say liberty
Or justice
Or equality
And you have no other words
So, you answer with bullets
And this is fundamentally flawed
Since your bullets will run out
But our words circulate mouth to mouth
And persist
Even if our throats are pierced with your bullets
Our plight for liberty echoes
And words are victorious
Since the last human
Shall utter “Liberty”

***

30/9/22

Hope arrives
Like the beloved
Letting down her hair
Opens the window
To let the moonlight
Shine through ragged clouds

*

Between all words
I pick out your name
And repeat it until
My mouth catches fire

***

7/10/22

All the innocents are clad the same
With sparkling eyes
And bleeding mouths

*

I’ve decided to conspire with the birds
To wear my speech on my heart
And to distribute shellfish
Filled with the sounds of the ocean
Among the people

*

The window is empty
Of your wind-swept hair

***

12/10/22

An epoque shall come
More Womanly
An epoque
Of rocks blooming
And us
Growing older

*

One day you shall return
And we will walk through the streets together
Without bullets prying our hands apart

***

21/10/22

Poetry can’t stop bullets
It can only swallow hatred
Or transform you into a butterfly

*

In the language of your eyes, poetry becomes light, it shines
In the language of your hair, poetry becomes wind, it blows
In the language of your lips, poetry becomes a kiss, it blooms
In the language of your ears, poetry becomes a song, it sings
In the language of your hands, poetry becomes wings, it flies
In the language of your feet, poetry becomes a deer, it flees
In the language of your womb, poetry becomes human, it brings miracles
In the language of your blood, poetry becomes rage, it rebels

***

23/10/22

It’s hard to explain someone’s death
To their clothes
To say they’re gone, and no one knows where
And you will forever remain cold

*

A woman stood by the road
A butterfly was drinking her tears

***

24/10/22

Birds were dying in the sky
And our mouths were poisoned with silence

***

28/10/22

The last human cannot be killed

***

2/11/22

I sang the songs of my heart
And the sorrowful bones of my hands
Fluoresce in the moonlight

***

6/11/22

I’ve had a dream
Where a miracle happens
That takes sadness away
From grief-stricken mothers
They become young again
Their children returning home
From faraway places

***

7/11/22

You go to the streets
Never to return
Swallowed by darkness

*

The pomegranate tree
Put its face to the windowpane
Speaking to the house

A corner of the house was mournful

*

Darkness is cold and silent
Since stars do not believe in solidarity

***

9/11/22

The moon gazed at them
From behind the closed window
The little girl told her mother:
I wish my hair was made of fire

***

10/11/22

Today’s rain is filled
With memories that tap on the window
And sigh

*

His eyes became focused on the stars
And a long silence replaced love

***

11/11/22

I don’t have anything in this world
I carry my sky on my back
And my Earth is the site for your footsteps

***

14/11/22

Every time we are shot with bullets
Every time we are dragged over the asphalt
For water
For bread
For a sliver of something akin to freedom
And not even exactly for freedom itself
We are killed
We are humiliated
With so much ease
I say to myself how do they dare
How do they give themselves permission
To waste our lives this way?
That they for sure will pay
Then I say to myself
That they
Are indeed
Already dead.

***

15/11/22

We use salt as balm for our wounds
Awaiting the day of justice

***

16/11/22

In our time
The only honor
Is being among the victims

***

18/11/22

I swear to ice
To the shot-dead child
I swear to the rainbow
After the rain

***

19/11/22

After you destroy all beauty
It’s time for grotesque beauties to be born

***

25/11/22

Everyone was asleep
Only the bird whose throat
Was kissed by the night
Was singing

*

Music
Means the sounds of the ocean
Or the breath of a woman
Dancing alone

*

Only the cliff
Will deny
The crashing of the waves

*

Even forgetting you is beautiful
Like the morning breeze that slowly
Wipes away the stars

*

I pass through the streets and the alleys
And there’s no one with me
Except the wind
That carries me towards the night

*

Now that I write this, it’s raining outside
I have no dreams
In a world that has always been on the verge of ruin
What else is there to say other than
“Be brave my passionate heart.”

 

Translator’s Note: I’ve known Saeed for a few years now, and in dark times his voice has always cut through sorrow to bring me certain visions of beauty. Saeed’s voice has a tranquil quality that can break any urgent moment into the lull of beauty. Saeed’s daily documentation of the uprisings through short poems originally posted on Instagram is morbidly fascinating, both in historical terms and in its poetic weight against the fist of the Oppressor. Writing from amid catastrophe, awaiting the unknown, Saeed brings to us a document, haunted by visions.


©
Saeed Tavanaee Marvi. Translation © January 2023 by Khashayar “Kes” Mohammadi. All rights reserved.

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