Back to Issue Thirty-Two

Long Poem of Loneliness



He’s leaning against this late hour
pushing open the creaking door of his age
his temperature drops
causing snow in his eyes.

He stands up
to go sit by the window
realizes he has been sitting
by the window for hours.

A bird
pecks at the corroded corner of the sky…
Does it want to die more beautifully?
Does one always need to fall to the ground in order to die?
Does the earth
fill the mouths of the dead
to stop them from describing what they’ve seen?
Has he grown his beard out
to conceal all these questions
in the creases of his face?

Is it possible to rise
to peck at bits of his life with his beak
and place them in his children’s mouths?

He opens the window
the oranges of life are blood oranges
he does not understand the reason for the moon
he does not understand the reason for the all-empty sky.

He turns off the light
lies on the bed he discarded
years ago
he lies down upon the faraway
falls asleep upon the faraway
and when the phone rings,
he has to get back on a road as long as a man’s life.

On the other side of the line
lies the severed corpse of his brother
who exploded while holding a phone in his hand
a corpse now gathering his last sentences
from the ground.

On the other end of the line
a woman
calls from twenty-seven years ago
just to say,
“Son, the oven gas is on
I am dead
and your sisters now
are sorrows growing taller every day…
Take care of your sorrows
attend to their homework
talk to them.”

On the other end of the call
it is I
who want to haul him out of this poem
who want to save him from these words.

But someone is busy
scrutinizing the phone wires
someone is busy
a surveillance of my relationship with myself
and the scratchy noise you hear
is from his knife, carving out the words…
Blood circulates in the wires
and the red eternity of the dial tone
pours into his ears
drop by drop.

It is his loneliness
that withers the flowers on his shirt.

The tea steeps in his mouth
his life’s buttons have been left undone
and part of his soul is hanging out.

He draws the letter from the drawer
will he get warmer from reading it
or burning it?

He lights his cigarette
and drives it like a crooked peg into the wall
yesterday is over
tomorrow is over
and with each exhale the gray faraway of life
draws closer to his mouth.

He has touched both sides of death
like the front and back cover of this book
which he closes in the middle
tosses on the floor
but it doesn’t fall
it rises
and flies off
with the two lines of its story.

Now a couple of white birds
are crossing the sky’s mind like tiny words.

Now they are carrying oranges
to other seasons.

Now they are leaving the stage

He draws shut the curtain of his eyelids
like a tortoise
retreating into its stony world.


*      *      *



Garous Abdolmalekian was born in 1980, days after the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War, and lives in Tehran. He is the author of five poetry books and the recipient of the Karnameh Poetry Book of the Year Award and the Iranian Youth Poetry Book Prize. His poems have been translated into Arabic, French, German, Kurdish, and Spanish. Abdolmalekian is presently the editor of the poetry section at Chesmeh Publications in Tehran and the executive editor of publications at the Youth Poetry Office in Iran.

Ahmad Nadalizadeh is a translator from the Persian and PhD candidate in comparative literature at the University of Oregon.

Idra Novey is a novelist, poet, and translator. She is the award-winning author of the novels Those Who Knew and Ways to Disappear. Her work has been translated into ten languages and she’s translated numerous authors from Spanish and Portuguese, most recently Clarice Lispector. For her poetry and translation she has received awards from the PEN Translation Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Next (Seth Simons) >

< Previous (Sara Elkamel)