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Baba Ezra


May 28, 1998

Poems from Ali Zarrin's soon-to-be-published selected works , Made You Mine America,and selected translations , Ghazals. Published here with the permission of the author.

Baba Ezra
Ghazal by Hafez

Baba Ezra

Omar Shakespeare Pound reads his translations
from classical Arabic and Persian poets:
Abu Nowas, Ibn al-Rumi (not to be mistaken
with Jalal), Rudaki, Manuchehri, Obaid,
Dehlavi, Iraj, and an unknown poet
from Mazandaran.

His hair is Ezra's fuzzy hair.
He peed in Ezra's lap?
Was Ezra as short as he?

"A cold winter day for Seattle,
a typical one for Princeton."
He arrived last night
from his daughter's wedding in New Zealand,
prepared for ice, wearing snow boots.

He laments
Ginsberg's popularity,
a father mourning the death of five sons lost in a plague,
and a family of five buried in Westminster Abbey
from WWII, whom he only noticed on his last visit.

My student Austin,
studying Hafez,
follower of Mehr Baba,
sits next to me listening.
A chemotherapy patient coming out of relapse,
he writes baba in Persian page after page,
a written incantation--baba, baba, baba, baba.
He must be thinking of Ezra.

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Slippery waves,
hungry seagulls;
a pair of white geese fly to the west.

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did not heed
the blade's edge;
this morning
they bloomed again.

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was never meant
to be
bought or sold;
the primitive call
became an ancient remedy
the alchemical panacea
for deep wounds,
and critical conditions
of heart, of vision,
sight and sound
into an eternal meaning,
the truth
about a feeling
or a feeling
about something
like breathing.

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Ghazal by Hafez of Shiraz

A love I've suffered that-- don't even ask.
Separation-venom I've tasted that-- don't even ask.

I've traveled the world and at last
picked a lover that-- don't even ask.

To kiss her threshold dust
I've shed tears that-- don't even ask.

With my own ears last night I heard
words from her mouth that-- don't even ask.

Why do you bite your lip, chiding me?
I've bitten rosy lips that-- don't even ask.

Without you in my one-room shack,
I've put up with things that-- don't even ask.

Like Hafez, a stranger on love's path,
I've reached a place that-- don't even ask.

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Copyright 1996 by Ali Zarrin

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Book of the day

Borrowed Ware
Medieval Persian Epigrams
Translated by Dick Davis

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