Friday, February 7, 2014

Reflections: On the Execution of a Poet

Aliki Barnstone has brought to the attention of her Facebook friends the execution in Iran of poet and activist Hashem Shabbani. Among several posts shared by Aliki is this one.

Also shared by Aliki is a prison letter smuggled out through friends of Shabbani, appealing for help from the international community; help which did not prevail. I now use the following excerpt from that prison letter to preface an older poem that I wrote about our society, some twenty years ago:

“I have tried to remove all the obstacles that divide the street (the public eye) from the truth and make it to live in illusion that formulated by the tyrants to design a life according to their will.”


To glimpse one briefly in the flesh
is an occasion,
a topic
for suppertime conversation,
a chance for the limelight
at the pub.
Prolonged exposure, though, might blind,
could well derange a
vulgar mind
with spiteful dreams,
resentments, green
prerequisites to homicide

and crime.  So they have their hired guns,
high-voltage walls and
vicious dogs,
to buffer piqued humanity—
orchestrate nightly
on TV
(boxed high behind the one-way glass)
their coliseum
passion plays
of man and beast,
of dust and blood—
eyes strain to glimpse their fateful thumbs.

Note: this poem is constructed using a format with which I was experimenting at the time, based on linear syllable counts in repeated patterns.