Poems by Gasham Najafzadeh, Azerbaijan


Gasham Najafzadeh, Azerbaijan


War is an expression of feelings,
the song of the bullets an artistic style,
the soldiers a rapid succession of thoughts
and blood the fearsome silence of a minute.

I once looked at the boot
of a dead soldier,
still not cold inside.
It stood straight up
in remembrance of feet.
Boots are what tell us most
Of the death of a man.
That is why the wedding-ring
on the trigger-finger
begs the finger every time:
I implore you, please ,
don’t push me against the metal.
The soldier’s grief in the trenches
is best asked of the foot.
At times, the dirt sticking to the boot
is the mark of tension inside.
In a word, the boot
Is the most mournful picture
of the absence of a man.


It is as this park
is a painting
hanging from the collar of the city.
The benches are green
and the people on them,
especially the young boys and grils,
are its forest dreams.
The winds of time have welded them
tightly onto the benches.
A woman has kept her balance,
holding her child by the hand.
Look! That gril, a student perhaps,
has held firmly on with two hands
to the thoughts in her heart
and remains standing.
The trees too still stand.
If you think about it
these trees were planted
with human looks.

The wind, an onlooker,
blows across the painting
and shakes the trees.
But the woman
holds her child tightly by the hand.
She wishes to go nowhere.
How sad that time
will one day
take the painting away
like a curator at an exhibition.


There can be no doubt
that women have a hand in the rain.
When the raindrops begin to sting
through the undone buttons of my dhirt
I recognise the women’s hands.
Rain is a synonym for woman
or perhaps her other face.
All women are rainfall
Showing its other face
The other side of the wind is a man.
What makes women show
their rainfall face,
is men turning
their wind face.
And what makes men
Show their other face
Is the emptiness of their lives.


To write a letter
is to water a cornfield.
Each letter of the alphabet
a single ear of corn.
And each ear a finger:
the earth saying “I am here”

To write a letter
is to knit stockings.
Each woolen letter
soon fills up the feet
is to set out on a long journey.
To walk is to write the feet on the road.

To write a letter
is the last-born girl in a village.
To write a letter
is to make time for her.
She sends time to the city
Where her lover has no time.

To write a letter
is to copy out the heart
Like copying out a letter.
Do not pass letters hand-to-hand
they may bleed.


Those are men, in prison,
but their wives
and their babies held in their memory.
Those are not men, beaten up in prison,
but their women
and, in particular,
the women’s eyes.

The courts can never learn
The reason
why men kill others.
Perhaps it’s the murdeed
who are most murderous.

At the end of each day
The darkness leaves the cells
to take each prisoner back to his home.
The prisoners’ wives clearly see
under the moonlight
what their husbands suffer in prison.
They can taste prison
in the cheap cigarettes
bought on credit.
Each prisoner goes out
with a piece of letter
written to his wife.
Each night the interrogators attack
the dreams of these women
on the prison wires.

Prisons turn men
into the cruelest murderers.


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