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Inferno, Inc.

Maryam Hooleh
Translator: Dr. Ahmad Karimi Hakkak
July 29, 2004
original Persian text

You have accepted it
heedless they whirl in the wind -- daily incidents ...

"That shameless decrepit man, did he remove his elephant body off your customs?"
"No, not yet! no end to my cigarettes ...
..................................puff by puff, I burn... !"

Fall according to some law, dear incident, just as you walk
.......................................................\people's dreams and realities ...
breakables from up there, unbreakables here on the earth
this encounter with wounds, hysteria and malaria is inevitable.

Pulsate in this civil society's brain, incident
in the brain of an apartment, on the street, pulsate ...
Add a head to the nether parts of urban life
even if it's ugly and worn out, with a piggish nose
still it's better than nothing, this inferno, inc...

Even if they stuff America in my back-pocket
the urine that's pressing at me has annihilated my happiness
religion spits all over my bladder non-stop ...
or is it that my blood pressure is down?
Either way, Mr. Worrisome is pacing downstairs!

Beloved incident,
the fact of your following some law throws both my doubts and dogmas into chaos
tell me, where in the scheme of machinations fits a monster called human?

Confess, and you have in fact confessed
that an ant's brain fills you up, on top of the Eiffel
an exile that in the brains of official rats barbecues the meatiest of your thoughts ...
you run, you heat up
in the brains of the spies ...
a thin little cell out of your share of the country's phosphorus ...
on strange maps, illegible ...
it runs ... it boils up ... it burns . .
runs ... boils up ... burns ...

charge at me, you wild cells of the world
start with the solitary cells
before the party begins, in street uniforms
pasteurize me in a pot of boiling water.
Iron out my protruding parts
cells of fear have turned my curves and creases into a semblance of the world.
pasteurization turns you into smooth and clean books
that turn the world topsy-turvy
when fear turns out to be funny before the crimes of the novel and the television
courage lies nearby, unable to do much ...
except reseating you from behind your eyeglasses on God's wheelchair.

It's the silence of the beds that the world fears
because sleep is braver than wakefulness
silence more deadly than scream.

Why does inaction fail to support you, why did society?
Choose your opponent: the walls that surround you
turn the city's lights off, return to the global village of your dreams
that's where fear and stupidity cannot produce babies
chronic differences of opinion do not deliver happiness from the crack of their
......................................................................................................filthy thighs...
The stupidity of this dumb peace is the context for my undoing ...
In rotten eastern thoughts, in disheveled western tastes
remembering the decrepit face at the glazing height of a dream
in the depth of every leper or blind voice, or before the question inside that death has not dared ask
reviving the memory of pork being served
amid the stench of burning human flesh.
Mary Antoinette the queen
Ain al-Qozat the old philosopher
the professor
throbbing arteries along the neck of the Taleban girl ...
Hey, X
hey, hundred to the power of two
hey square root of Alexander!
Subtract my dreams from my days ...

The bravest of people is the one
who dares to remember as he wakes up.

It's in remembering that the world pulsates
arms are one way to forget
a noisy sort of forgetting we use to retreat to our childhood.

Take away my lollypop, little incident
Raise me on the lap of your fascism
so in you I can reach the right to choose.
Rights are meaningless unless you don't have them
..............................................and are facing those who do.
I will not burn you because my roots will turn into ashes
I command you, fascist incident!
Let there be the monster, single-headed and double-eared, upon the earth.

It is tough that somewhere in the world Mars should proclaim his prophecy on TV
and somewhere else the plague spit his hysterical laughs on stalls of imported CDs
that in a movie-house somewhere different dances marry each other
so eugenics can work its magic...
yet on our little alley the first century Hegira, fat and lazy,
..................should still contemplate the question of borders and termites ...
and inside its brain you,
...........holding a bow and arrow, wearing hot pants under your black chador
....................................................................should still run, get hot, burn..., get hot, burn...
Are you accepting this?

Hum! Mani! Pah! My! Huh!
Make it snappy!
Sparrows have sprouted in your ears, now you can hear ma as I rale!
Morning, you are there in my breakfast
.............I dare and I remember.
Besides me and the words I have consumed -- with joy, with the ruler, and with pain --
there are other things next to my breakfast
.............I dare and I remember.

My bits of luck got stuck in the desert
ever since the day they hopped into my thin female car.
Now, men and slogans
will make no difference to my gas tank's condition.
No longer can making a revolution or migrating
stop this little machine growing up.
It is approaching thirty now, but the desert is still the desert.
It is about to become a grandma
yet she wraps hot sand in dainty boxes, for her grandchildren,
Inferno, inc!

I am not sure if it is the ace of spades or a dictator that hides in my pocket
you know
hungry folks can hide anything in their pockets
in place of coins and dry bread!
But the sounds of their missiles shrieking comes up from deep inside my pockets
and the stench of the latrine and tear gas
has seeped into my clothes so much
it makes lovemaking difficult.

Aha, incident, lawful little incident:
Fess up -- this last fetus you aborted, wasn't that love!
The stench of blood rolled in rotten dirt, caught in the mouths of alley cats
That's enough to turn the city folks on!
The smell of blood in a tennis racket, in women's chadors, inside men's beards
at Salman Rushdie's execution
in made-to-order poems
in mail-ordered brides.
The stench of blood in me, inside me still carrying so much blood
in the folds of my words, still living and livid
through the ordeal of life, about to give up the ghost!
And the desert is still the desert ...
Inferno, inc!
Tell me, does the baton help the dead live again?
This baton has been brainwashed
Surely it is the most pious Muslim on earth doubt about it
the reason, no dialog with this one!
You can only make room for a baton
the squares and the peddlers roaming through them have left no room for fight-or-flight.
The banknotes they are supposed to shove up the schools' nether parts
the checks that are supposed to provide arrows
............leading from the alleys to the squares and the peddlers ...

the more I change
the more society makes a claim to being like me
go on hopscotching, take care not to fall
for the gods, this is their natural rights
forgive me if I once beat you in that game
it was only a local little game, by accident, with divine help
limping along does you good at times!

They are right
For the trembling soul her words resemble frog figurines,
about to give up the ghost
more sleep will not pacify my little life.

Look well at these deserted temples
at the breasts formed by the ashes
that ought to take care of your street smarts!
the tooth-bites left by the rat of leftover foods
have made a cavern of eternal pain in their granite hearts,
feet that need no hands, without an exhausted brain
hands that need no feet ...
Serve grapes grown on the branches of your no-rights!
Play marbles, maintain your balance
image of a deadly hell ...
Illusions of a century, caught between two mirrors,
.................................the crackling coal of the condemned...

Molten lead in the middle of the dialog...
am I any different from the paper that Danton read?
Rights, rights, rights...
"What is left of the rights?
Wow, is that all?
I don't care whose corpse this is, it is still scary!
Doesn't matter whether it's my right or yours,
........................I don't want it, and you don't either."

Sometimes speaking nonsense helps add a little to the civilization of justice
this offering comes from a trembling subconscious to an annihilated consciousness...

Later on, riding in history's ambulance
I'll patiently take care of the erection that is the incidental law of this century
for now, just let me die!
After all, only the dead can write the life history of the dead
the living ca n only study
your eyes are not supposed to remain open and see you are struggling inside the incident!
Usually, you can stare life in the face when you are outside it!
This is what scraps of clocks and newspapers spell out
clearly, legibly, throwing it crumpled all over the dustbin of alleys...
And the desert is still the desert ...

Feet in the world, head in time
how does this ant stand me stepping on its body?
Caprice is a place where time and space copulate in a crate the position of, well, beside each other, in one place...
What a tough life,
..............the ease of the last few gasps must have crushed her teeth.
The pyramids are past animation
the geometry of objects is no cure for the leprosy of gab!

Humiliation, this spell of a helplessness
is keeping me alive, for now
nothing was as truthful as this
I am the truth
a double-edged lie that squats in the middle of itself.
Watch your movie, crack the nuts!
Jelsomina wakes up with a crackling noise
put on your pants!
Time for you to get old
the old know how to feel shame
the old are professional bearers of shame
only with the old can you have human relations
I have woken up
have put on lipstick
today the street looks more civilized than it did yesterday
when this old-fashioned immigrant would only look at his refugee status in Europe
as the difference between yellow and brown sheep.
Issue me a citizenship card, heavens
my teeth are falling faster than rich professional geezers!

Lawful incident in the coroner's office...
lawful incident in the tight virginity of circumcised girls
who have been deleted from all dreams
in the flaccid Turkish delight hidden inside a potbelly suit.
in the taxicab that has embellished the desert
in a sea that serves itself pork
and on top of corpses of curious humans they treat themselves to rocks and oysters!

Incidentally, did my baby swallow an incident instead of a marble
or was it in fact a marble he swallowed?
(After I have gotten rid of it, all the logical pieces, in the same holy order, will still make me throw up, just so I can be sure I am still alive... )

My dear cellmate!
After you have collected your clothes from the clothesline
think a little while about the filth that is gone forever
the stench...
Think of the flower you gave your lover
the shampoo you used to wash your baby's hair
tales that disappeared forever, after each reading...

upon a time
in an age that was modern, this breakfast that is no longer there.
"Who can say infidelity is antagonistic to God?"
"Are you sure religion is not an enemy of human beings?"
What good is knowing or not knowing?
The important thing is that these things exist
And as for antagonism to God
or enmity toward humans
Which is more harmful?
Easy -- the one that is more palpable...
reach out and touch!
pull my leg and touch!

I have reversed course, taken another path
all kids grow up with the straight engine that goes in reverse
and still no circle was closed.
Dots were far separated by the distance between the heavens and the earth
and the question was not between the heavens and the earth
it was which one, the heavens or the earth!
Who am I?
And what has the circle to do with me? (So the desert would be a cutie or a cunt?)

As the incident was becoming lawful
It was turning into a son of a bitch too!
Reality turns the torrent of your babies into a droplet
and how would you answer them, Lady Cloud, when they grow up?
Will you shed rains over them?
Do you still rain the rain that makes you sweat?
As you turn into an infidel you open our eyes and see that you have been dry all along!
A time for raining ...
you are put together from the smoke in the eyes of the passersby!
From the passing of painful laughter
the despair of fuming rigs!
In the desert you are your own optical illusion!
Now, hop off yourself and graze in yourself
never mind
This desert has nothing to graze on.
"And you were never a thing of use to yourself anyway!"
Besides, the desert was a classed desert!
One class the hills, another the valleys, one highlands, one lowlands!
And wave upon wave of salty dust!

and dust, and more dust
gusts of dust drafting plans for people.

Being modern means when you say something romantic
you should use a station.
With all your words and thoughts, station by station, you must have been afflicted by urbanization.

to expect to get off no matter where you get on
and get on again no matter where you get off!

The demise of the incident
lawful incident, you are falling, brother
with all the killings, the self-burnings, the plagues
we are reaching the days when you will no longer fall at any point.
You are a man only so long as men have become lawful
unlawful incident is a nonsense!
You have grown old
go mind your business
the fact that I have agreed to even think of you
without seeing your national ID card
is more than you deserve!

"Pick boo!"
"What is this?"
"A window!"
"And this?"
"A cartoon show!"
"And this?"
"Well, you know
they pulled out the nails of the noblest of our people, clipped them together,
to give us the Third World!
It's dirty and stained, but it has calcium!
Instead of licking your feet
Now you can stand on your own!
It is more humiliating to be a third class citizen than to be an independent pest!
You can have a president of your own, a country, and a whole system of
............................................................................................... national oppression!"
I will not grow up
I'm tired of thinking I should become you
why should someone become his mother
being a child makes more of a difference:
all moms are moms, the exact same thing
but I am me, myself
and loving redundant people doesn't mean I should think of their tongue!"

The chair in the trash...
The toilet bowl in the tea...
what difference does that make to you?
Think of me as your newspaper
Bend a little and I'll put the load of my news on your back
.............................................take it to the dumpsite and empty it
and on our way back,. I'll drink pasteurized milk from your sweat
and salute regulation-free breakfasts
I will eat this one with her underwear and bra on, under the full moon
the same underwear and bra that have leaped through the loop of crime!

"By the way, young man, you never told me
in which newspaper the Milky Way would be annihilated!"

Take away my peace so I can live again
burn my plants
demolish my roof
violate my virgin sky
so my skin can crack open
to shed the shell
it's in the midst of adversity that people grow!
The stupid ones stay put
the smart smoke that finds its way through the crack belongs to honest atheism!
Powerful people always negate the preceding powerful people to grab at power!
In people's eyes, clouds, cold and cruelty, a mirror in front of your skin!
Shed that shell!

The moment you wish to be a mirror you have multiplied yourself
and before you know it you are a religion
"Don't do that!"
"Can I do anything else?"

Help me on
so I can see whether anything distinguishes human beings as superior
other than remaining separate and serving as a mirror.
No, never!
The first human was a copy machine of rules
that gave the incident diarrhea
your stomach was not hardened, incident, and we grew old, one by one.
You have held me by the collar so tight
that we escape immortality, at the time of our death
unless it lasts only for fifty years, only on earth.

I am trying to make your wits fly off
let my concentric particles discover my destiny.
Spearmint for me, henna for the old hag!
Take this death away from me, leave it at my fetus's feet!
This blanket force would be a good incentive
for abandoning yourself to life, in a few light seconds
you are the perfect fit for killing time.
Aren't I right?
Take this shovel from me, give me that candle!
boys for my various outfits
girls for staring at!
Wall me in, a wall of glass would be best
looking like this does a better job of keeping civilization busy
you are in cahoots with wasting time
Aren't I right?
Poetry, guillotine ...
fooling around with women ...
and here's your wall of glass ...

I have strayed from the path of modernization
it was too acidic
I am now all washed up with it.
Are my smiles ahead, or your collective awe, who despise madhouses, homeless shelters, and Hitler?
Some people are evil machines
Don't tell me their thoughts!
Even broad beans swell in their tummies so bad can hear trees shouting for days through their cracks.
Killing time...
by spitting out slogans...
is so cool!
Aren't I right?

Inside Inferno, inc. evil machines are always fatter
that's how the desert lets some pass but not others
letting pass is the thing.
Sinking at the edge of the desert, or at its bottom?
The difference is between letting pass and being accepted.
Humans have an inclination to be asses
loving and caressing and munching seeds ...
Sitting in at a TV show or falling asleep in front of it.
Does it matter where your chair is?
I'm dozing off down here, you up there.
You dram of delivering lashes, I dream of receiving them.
The important thing is when you wake up
you don't care to remember that you have been violated
nor would you care to remember that you have done the violating.
If you want the truth of it, breakfasts don't help humans cure themselves
you must think of a better lullaby for tonight
otherwise we'll both suffer a fall!

Worms are not ousted through our hopes
so long as worms crawl in the garden, humans can't find immortality --
don't you have a thought, incident?
Your pregnant rules only make more fertilizer for the garden!
..............Cow crap and atomic waste
..............Wood or cement
..............Differences in days, differences in duties ...
An accountant must sit apart
On one side accounts of all the urbanization
..............on the other those of the First World and medicine and Mars.
Count and you'll see how many real hearts are beating
On real time to make white blood in the brain --
How many hearts?

On a wooden bed
in the gutters
under the rock
and the desert machine
how many hearts beat?
"Real hearts don't beat in sleep, brother!"
You are cool with being an ass
aren't I right?
And making an ass of us is what geniuses do
worms are not asses and they don't make an ass of us, they just munch!
We're talking about hearts that beat in sleep!

You are wasting you time, incident!
I know the reason for this conspiracy:
the hero wound up by the wind, and who knows things
but as soon as people look and the dialog gets rolling
they go with the wind
..............not with the one who is doing the talking
..............not with the talk that is doing the one ... Hit!
hit me!
I am stronger than you
because my fantasies always end in my empowerment
and I think that the world is a figment of my imagination!
And you, my other thoughts, who envy me
..............because there is no way you would be me
............................because you cannot lie to yourselves
............................whereas I can.
............................I lie, therefore I am.
............................I have thick skin, because I do not believe!

Take the away from me, my blonde darling!
I think with black hair
maybe that's why my thoughts are not pretty, but yours are!

Beauty always comes with stupidity
conspiracy and divinity with ugliness ...
Gods are formed by undoing and being undone.
When a god falls prostrate before a beauty that has got the power?
This violates the laws, incident!
There's an evil in you who takes kindness away from us
I think of you in the midst of mountains and forbidden countries.
Cities scare me about you
so power is where two elements encounter.
It is this possibility that decides
not you, not love
not street fantasies
not great expectations --
we are nothing!
Time is the greatest of plaything that entertains us.
The moment you feel bored moments are no more
And you fall down through the crack between the moment before and the moment after.

You fall -- with the thought of time in your pockets
you tremble from the fall -- with your tongue in your eyes.
In this dreadful madhouse of a dungeon
your footsteps become echoes of these words!

"The likes of the circle were not a circle, or there wouldn't be a fall."
"A circle is a good thing, isn't it?"
"Yes. You manipulate anyone you wish
and you can be kicked anywhere -- here, there, in the park, in the head!"

Is death a fall or a flight?
There is no direction in the constellations.
Death is a return to the constellatory absence of rules.
Justice is annihilation
..............annihilation and equality.
Borders bored you
These days walls and borders are made of glass!
So, what are you waiting for?
Share your longest word with me -- after death!
" How is that possible?"
After all, if freedom ends in the glass it will destroy you too
nothing would be visible from behind you, neither opaque objects, nor yourself!
A democracy of glass sees nothing any more
is this annihilation
or pure vision?
A pair of sixes is not always cause for celebration.
I'll miss the dialog, Cinema!
But when I fly in a vacuum, without tranquilizers and barbiturates
..............I feel such a pleasure it's like overcoming the pain of labor
..............with a few milligrams of morphine, forever,
......................................................................that's death!

Now let's get back to the beginning!
Labor pain continues
that's life!

Ears naked
hands naked
how can I buy you love from myself?
People are never as great as when they fall in love or rise to be a politician!
Help them reconcile themselves with this!

And then the trains and the tunnels all move in the same direction:
Memories of whorehouse windows ...
Muslims and deserts ...
Directions and hours ...

The truth is, the difference between desires
..............and the time before their fulfillment time -- and that's that!

Talk to her a little, maybe she'll relent!
Dear plaything!
I lose you as I wind you up!
When I wake up you have already come to, and you are having noise for breakfast.
What am I to do with you, with your alarm bell wind up knob!
If we -- and our new daily demands -- were not here
you would kill yourself from the boredom of monotony, wouldn't you?

Inferno, inc, is nothing but hollow time
without corpses around, because it has nothing to let rot!
Even our death postpones your no incident ...

Tie me up in my home one day, incident
and let me see if at the end of the day you do not feel depressed.
If I keep you from committing suicide the Milky Way will fall down the ladder animation.
..............And my baby, the savior, will yell out: it has fallen!
We decide when you fall
how can you not take care of us?
If my hair were blonde would you have fallen in a different way, that every time you fall your hands and legs would not break, your wheelchair would not stop working?

Ah, incident! this hell in me, my limbs a shirt on its body
this mound of fire, all this cursing flaming forth from my spinal column ...
ageless me, ancient me, puzzle without answer, with a dying inferno, inc. inside ...
Get out of me!
Smash me to the ground!
Break me so you drop down next to me, again!

Ah, incident, incident!
I am ageless, for you have not grown in me
single-cell creatures will not convince me f the passage of time
not through their reproduction.
Believe me and fall in my arms,
..............with a sackful of dollar bills
..............or a man who would not fight me
..............or a country in which kids do not die of old age, in accidents, or by bullets!
............................Then I'll believe you, and immortalize you!

History is my sorrow in a bed where I think of you
Pin your stars to my sky, and I'll make history's limbs real!
And then, finally, time will experience the mutual touch, in the hands of a real being.
Three-dimensional cinema ...
viewers that had turned into sheep
will have turned superhuman.

Then seeing and being seen will become one and the same thing:
....................................................................................a timeless action word!

Snore, snore, snore!
Grow big as I puff you up!
This time I have penned your formula incidentally,
Come what may!
I fell in love incidentally
had babies incidentally
was anointed a prophet incidentally,
the pyramids for my breakfast
a pair of flying shoes,
and satellite channels that the Islamic Republic censors,
with a heart that stops working in sleep
with an eye that suddenly opens up
and with my two-year-old
who steals my lighter from inside the kitchen to take the world seriously.
original Persian text

Maryam Hooleh, the winner of PEN, was born to a Kurdish family in Tehran. She is the author of several books of poetry and currently through an invitation from Svenska PEN resides in Sweden. Dr. Ahmad Karimi Hakkak is Professor of Persian Language and Literature at the University of Washington in Seattle >>> See

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