Leila Farjami

The Next War

The pine and the ash tree slip
into late-day torpor.

The sky finds solace
in its pale lighting,
the year’s end.

The night jasmine begins to uncoil
in its blue-white communion.

I am a long hour of mourning—
Parkinson’s stabs mother’s throat,

her words are beheaded ghosts
wandering the air.

The humming of a wind
carries a child
from her homeland
to some unknown place.

A thousand thuds,
A thousand screams.


I am a long hour of mourning—
Attention! Attention!
The sound you are hearing
is an emergency alert,
and it means an aerial attack
is imminent.
Leave your work area
and go to a shelter.

The red siren continues
for three minutes,
with a minor fluctuation
in sound frequency
every ten seconds.

The terror huddles us
in an unlit corner,
jitters our limbs.

Bombs explode in kitchens,
living rooms, schoolyards,
missiles demolish office buildings,
parks, hospitals,

the blast waves forever lodge
inside the bones of a woman
flung on shattered glass.

the white siren
for three minutes,
one minute of steady blare,
followed by one minute of silence,

the steady blare again,
one-minute long.

The nightly television news
declares the number
of today’s dead, the martyrs,
displays the cement rubbles,
rags slung over beams,
posts, bricks,
a girl’s face,
grey as a doused star,
with her hair,
tousled, ash-covered,
her forehead,
in dry blood.

I walk to school
the next day.


Forty years have passed.

The falling moon
brushes against poplar leaves,
dyes them lucent silver,
the earth,

I hold my breath
inside a lover’s curve,
uphold time’s shape.

All quiet rainwater,


the future



Amor Fati

In wait,
the key rusts in your first,
its teeth

This is the door
of all ancestors.

The overhead inscription reads
Amor Fati—
love of one’s fate,

of both the poison
and the nectar.

Love of the wingless body,
the knifed heart.

You walk out of the sea,
trudge through gravel,
ice sheets,
or magma,

your hands dig deep
inside the earth
for the buried gold,
surface empty.

As a human,
you are the ordained dweller
of caves,

You are indigenous
to the sun and the moon.

There is no reason
why all this is,
or why you are,
other than the wind
that sows you
like a seedling among the infinite,

the water that swirls
inside your flesh-red hollows,

the light that rhymes
the vowels of your breath,
the murmur of your bones,

the blue mouth that speaks you
                    into life



How You Incarnate

Brief as starlight,
the mother of all dust,
you glow,


You are the river that curves
toward the old forest,
the mossed boulders,
the quietude of watercress
along the embankment,
the maple branches that sift
the warming season,
snags of alder,
willow twigs, afloat
like supine fish.

Gravity steadies your heart,
guards its edges,
molds it to endure
the void—


You do not indulge this world—
your homeland

Like the white violas
of a Tehran spring,
you ponder the end,
speak of the budding,
of the decay.

You leave this body
to enter
the next.



Leila Farjami is a poet, literary translator, and psychotherapist. In addition to publishing seven poetry books in Persian, her work has appeared in A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Apricity Magazine, Cathexis Northwest Press, El Portal, Euphony Journal, Flights, Hey, I’m Alive, Midwest Quarterly, Nonconformist Magazine, Nimrod Journal, Pennsylvania English, Poetic Sun, Poetry Porch, Press Pause Press, riverSedge: A Journal of Art and Literature, Silk Road Review, Spotlong Review, Subnivean, and Sun; was published by Tupelo Press for their 30/30 Project; and has been translated into Swedish, Arabic, Turkish, and French. Her poem “Caspian Sea” has been nominated for the Best of the Net anthology.