Majid Naficy, the Arthur Rimbaud of Persian poetry, fled Iran in 1983, a year and a half after the execution of his wife, Ezzat in Tehran and since 1984 he has been living in West Los Angeles. Naficy has published two collections of poetry in English  Muddy Shoes (Beyond Baroque, Books, 1999) and Father and Son (Red Hen Press, 2003) as well as his doctoral dissertation at UCLA Modernism and Ideology in Persian Literature (University Press of America, 1997). He has also published more than twenty books of poetry and essay in Persian. Naficy's poetry has been anthologized in many books including Poetry in the Windows edited by Suzanne Lummis, Poets Against the War, edited by Sam Hamill, Strange Times My Dear: The Pen Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature, Lounge Lit: An Anthology of Poetry and Fiction by the Writers of Literati Cocktail and RhapsodomancyBelonging: New Poetry by Iranians around the World, After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life, Becoming Americans: Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing, Revolutionary Poets Brigade Anthology and Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here. Naficy is one of the six poets featured in the film Poetry of Resilience directed by the Oscar-nominated documentary film-maker Katja Esson. He was the first writer in residence in Annenberg Community Beach House, Santa Monica in 2009-10, and the judge for Interboard Poetry Community contests in 2009. Majid has received awards in two poetry contests, "Poetry in the Windows" sponsored by the "Arroyo Arts Collective" as well as "Poetry and Recipe" organized by "Writers at Work" in Los Angeles. His poetry has been engraved by the city in public spaces in Venice Beach and Studio City. His life and work was featured in LA Weekly, February 9-15, 2001 written by Louise Steinman, entitled "Poet of Revolution: Majid Naficy's Tragic Journey Home".


 The Old Vine

There is a green fence
Between death and me
Covered by an old vine.
When passing by
I part the dense leaves
To see the other side
But the sun blinds me.
I pluck a single leaf
And like an old palmist
Stare at its cryptic lines
Asking myself in silence,
“Who has planted this vine?”
And before people point at me
I brush the dust from my clothes
And go on my way.


In the Yuzgir Pass

for Karim Minu

As my eyes followed her,
The dragonfly
Rose and fled.
The preying mantis
Did not reach her.
If he had,
Nothing would remain of her
Save for a colorful pair of wings.

When the foolish hunter
Was sleeping in his hiding-place
In the Yuzgir Pass,
The pretty gazelle,
Under my gaze,
Drank deeply from the spring
And went away
And nothing remained of her
But her recent droppings.

On our return,
I found a goat-bell.
I hung it round my neck
And we ran down the goat trail:
I wanted to be the dragonfly's wings
I wanted to be the gazelle's legs.


I Go to Get Water                

for Nahid

I go to get water
With a container in one hand
And a quarter in the other.

I stop by the high wall of Payless
In front of the empty parking lot,
Put the coin in the vending machine
And hold the water container
Under the spigot.
I hear the sound of a murmuring stream
Chirping sparrows in the trees
And village girls with colorful dresses
Who are sitting next to each other
filling their jars with cold water
From a nearby spring.
Wasn’t it there that for the first time
I saw my tall and graceful Anahita?*
She was walking down the spring trail
And when her eyes met my gaze
She lowered her long eyelashes.

The vending machine is staring at me
I take my water container
Cross the empty parking lot
And walk back home.
Will the lady of waters open the door for me?

* Anahita or Nahid: Goddess of waters in old Persia.


Persian-Singing Bird

There is a bird in your throat
Which knows only Persian.
Whatever you teach her in English
She still sings in her mother’s tongue.
You stand in front of the mirror
Put your tongue between your teeth
And say: “Three, three”
But you hear: “Tree, tree.”
Suddenly, you notice the rumbling
Of the No. 3, from the street below.
Now, you must call her
And say that you’ll be late.
Be sure not to say “boss” instead of “bus”
Or to pronounce the first letter of her name as “V”!
For “W”, you must round your lips
Just as you do when you kiss her.


Majid Naficy



2013 Majid Naficy


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