This next transcreated poem is originally by Reza Mohammadi, an Afghani born in 1979, who originally composed Smoke in Persian. From this point Reza himself & Narguess Farzad made English translations, which were then comblended into one by Nick Laird. It was from this last version that I made the Goethe-friendly poem you are about to read.
REZA MOHAMMADI: Smoke
Unto the man I would return
Who once inside my shirt did burn.
At each lip’s precipice I fret
To find the voice I once did set
Down-dangling from a cigarette.
I ask the card-turn to unshroud
The revelations thro’ the crowd
That sweeps aside bird, plant & cloud.
Carry off, great Lord, this flower,
To tables fill’d by my mother,
& to the house of my father,
& to the fish of the rivers
Whom, three times a day, take lovers,
Suicide’s soft deliverers.
I’m six years old, care to buy bread?
What am I doing here, I said.
Carry my soul to the tented
Gypsy mystic, tinted, scented,
Take it to be finger-printed.
I’ll never leave this street, y’know,
That named a missile long ago.
You’ll see I only came to buy
Some rolls of bread – you’ll see that I
Have seen exactly six years by.
Before the next man join’d my thread
Morning stopp’d gorging on his head,
& like this poem’s folding, he
Was thrown, was caught, within old me.
Hey! This much wind my shirt won’t stand,
We should not let this much cloud land.
The blacken’d body’s shrapnel flew
Right back to eat, snack, feast on you.
Why should I be God’s kick’d up dust,
I flow like ink from His fingers.
The broken lighters of his feet
Flicker & flare in mine like heat.
His heart a wet, spent ciggarette,
His mother’s lashes crudely set
Inside his pocket, food for worms,
With sister’s hair that fistfull squirms,
& those barb’d eyelids of his wife.
I wish somebody in his life
Had told him moons dont burst in flame
When clad in clothes by top brands made.
The one runs from me as he ran
From his ma’s table & her pan,
Thus I would like to tell him this,
How poet’s metamorphosis
Grows on lips like little roses
Caus’d by earth – which decomposes!
Even the river dodges me,
Even the doves take flight to flee
& all the Judas trees within
Are made of debris from this bin;
How was your face made up, I said,
What shade the scarf swath’d round your head?
Black-sooted in black suit I stand,
A dandelion in one hand,
Addresses I can’t call to mind,
As on moth-wings descends dusts fine,
Dusts upon petals de-scend-ing –
Now I’m forgetting everything.
THE STORY OF THE NEW DIVAN