Haiku for George Floyd

I wrote my first haiku in honour of #GeorgeFloyd. Inspired by the beautiful poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar & Dr Maya Angelou. Also, the iris plant is named after the goddess of rainbow, referring to the “wide variety of flower colours found among the species.”

#BlackLivesMatter

“Spring irises bloom.
The caged bird no longer sings—
a knee on his throat.”

 

—Kamand Kojouri

It Is a Strange Time, My Dear

“It is a strange time, my dear.
A novel virus haunts our streets.
Days feel like weeks,
weeks like months.
We’re blasted with new news every second—
yes and then no and then yes and no,
feeding our primal panic
to hoard goods and leave shelves
breadless, riceless.
They tell us the pandemic
makes all equal—the poor and very rich—
then why are the poor poorer
and the rich profiting?

It is a strange time, my dear.
Army men are marching our streets.
They force us to stay inside,
threaten and arrest
for a walk in the park.
They wage small wars against us,
but this battle began long ago.
The elite technocrats are crowing
in their silicone valleys
as corporations grow
and small businesses fold
with mountains of debt—
the centre cannot, will not, hold!

It is a strange time, my dear.
Mainstream media reports
the world has never been safer
as they terrorise the chambers
of our minds.
This stress, this anxiety
is killing our immunity.
But we must do it all for the elderly—
or so they say!
When have they ever cared for our elders?
When have they ever cared for our vulnerable?
We go to bed dreaming of toilet paper
while they dismantle the world economy.
Family businesses go bust
all so we can protect the people,
but only the people are suffering!
At the end of this, those retired
will have peanuts for pensions.
They are stripping us of everything
whilst our eyes are fixed on our screens.
And how dare we say it’s a strange time
when
in seven months
we’ll make America
great again.”

Kamand Kojouri

IN MEMORIAM: FLIGHT 752

“I try to envisage the passengers
seated in neat rows.
Everyone knows the real danger
is at take-off and landing,
but after an hour delay,
their plane was soaring. Relieved,
they whispered prayers, dreaming
of families and friends at arrival gates
clutching coffee cups and bouquets.
I like to think it was calm,
the plane blanketed by the dark’s caress.
Cellphones put away,
the cabin lights dimmed,
babies cooing in cots,
and refreshments on their way.
176 hearts beating in one narrow womb.
Closer to the heavens,
I know their journey was short—
earth angels for a while
who were returning home.”

—Kamand Kojouri

We Are, Each of Us, Refugees

ref·u·gee noun: a person who flees for refuge or safety

“We are, each of us, refugees
when we flee from burning buildings
into the arms of our loving families.
When we flee from floods and earthquakes
to sleep on vouchsafed mats in sanctuaries.
We are, each of us, refugees
when we flee from abusive relationships
or shooters in cinemas
and shopping centres.

Sometimes it only takes a day
for our countries to persecute us
because of our race, religion, or opinion.
Sometimes it only takes a minute
for the missiles to rain down
and turn our towns into ruin and destitution.

We are, each of us, refugees
longing for that amniotic tranquillity,
dreaming of freedom and safety
when fences and barbed wires
will spring into walled gardens.

Lebanese, Sudanese, Libyan, and Syrian,
Yemeni, Somali, Palestinian, and Ethiopian,
like our brothers and sisters,
we are, each of us, refugees.
The bombs fell in their cafés and squares
where once poetry, dancing, and laughter prevailed.
Only their olive trees
remember music and merriment now
as their cities wail for departed children
without a funeral.

We are, each of us, refugees.
Don’t let stamped paper tell you any differently.
We have been fleeing for centuries
because to stay means getting bullets in our heads.
Because to stay means being hanged by our necks.
Because to stay means being jailed, raped, and left
for dead.

But we can, each of us, be someone’s refuge
so they don’t board dinghies
when they can’t swim.
So they don’t climb walls
with snipers aimed at their chest.
So they don’t choose to stay
and be killed instead.

When home turns into hell,
you, too, will run
with tears in your eyes screaming rescue me!
and then you’ll know for certain:
you’ve always been a refugee.”


Kamand Kojouri

HALF-LIFE

“Do not succumb to the half-life,
to the indifference and apathy
of those cool and aloof individuals.
Nothing affects them.
Their lovers desperately cry
out for affection,
but they shrug their shoulders,
for they are always shrugging,
and transcend the messy drama
of the human situation.
Oh, this transcendental invincibility—
the shit of the bull!
Even Christ chose immanence
so He could feel as the people felt,
suffer as they did.
You must revel in your neuroses,
your sensitivities and sensibilities.
Burn your excitable characters,
do not extinguish this fire. Stay within.
Taste the immediacy of living.
Be in life with others.
Do not yield to the hypocrisy
the world demands!
Do not succumb to the shadows,
to the half-life, the half-light.
We are not gods.
Be human.”

Kamand Kojouri

I Am Not Separate From You

“I am not separate from you, my neighbour.
If you are my enemy,
then I am my own enemy.
If you are my friend,
then I am my own friend.
Today, I have stripped off my masks
and come to know myself.
I am Christian. I am Jew.
I am Muslim and Hindu.
I am European and African,
Asian and South American.
I am man. I am woman. I am two-spirit.
I am gay. I am asexual. I am straight.
I am abled. I am disabled.
I am all these things because you are,
and you are all these things because we are.
I exist in relation to each of you—
this is what gives my being meaning.
Why must I label myself like a bottle of wine?
When I am the bottle, the wine,
and drunkenness.
Why must I label myself at all?
When I am the flesh, the light, and the shadow.
When I am the voice, the song, and the echo.
Tell me why I must label myself
when I am the lover, the beloved, and love.
I am not separate from you, my neighbour.
And you are not separate from humanity.
We are all mirrors,
reflecting one another
in perpetuity.”

Kamand Kojouri

GOD IS NOT DEAD

God is not dead.
She has forsaken us.
We wipe our angry, hate-filled tears
after another shooting as a man
polishes his gun outside a mosque.
All those stolen lives—we scream
for justice! But God has quietly left
our temples and churches.
She will not return, for what we have done
is much worse. We have murdered
humanity.
God has deserted even the devoutest of us—
those who hoard our love and compassion
only for the good and righteous as we abandon
the bigots brimming with hate.
Yes, they are the least deserving of love
but the most in need of it.
God’s agony rings in our hearts.
She wails for the future
shooters.
And though we reject them,
God greets these cracked and confused creatures—
the least deserving of compassion
but the most in need of it!
These suggestible souls susceptible
to the systematic vitriol spilling
from demagogues and cult leaders,
brainwashing them.
We read their spiteful tweets,
yet when we pass them in classrooms,
in trains and markets,
we dismiss those seemingly small, nameless
opportunities for kindness.
We don’t know—and how ignorant we are—
that every time
we ignore them,
we sharpen our daggers
and butcher humanity in its raw flesh—
not in dark alleyways, no, but in the light of day.
Because hating them,
shows how loving we are.
Because condemning them,
proves how moral we are.
And every shooting illuminates
the collapse of our collective duty
to love as God loves,
to be compassionate as God
is compassionate.

Prayers heal, yes—
but for God’s sake, let God be.
First,
let’s resurrect our humanity.”

Kamand Kojouri

YOUR THISNESS

“Your whatness
is what we share with you,
our togetherness.
Your thisness
is your separate essence,
your distinctness.
I love you for your whatness,
for the me in you, and the you in us.
I love you for your thisness,
your eternal soul,
deathless and endless.”

Kamand Kojouri

WE ARE ALL LOST

“We are all lost,
so lost, vulnerable and insecure.
We are separated from love at birth,
we are separated from God,
from each other.
All we want,
all we yearn for
is to connect.”

Kamand Kojouri

WAR ON SILENCE

Always ask yourself: ‘What will happen if I say nothing?’

“Let our silence grow with noise
as pregnant mothers grow with life.
Let our silence permeate these walls
as sunlight permeates a house.

Let the silence rise from unwatered graves
and craters left by bombs.
Let the silence rise from empty bellies
and surge from broken hearts.

The silence of the hidden and forgotten.
The silence of the battered and tortured.
The silence of the persecuted and imprisoned.
The silence of the hanged and massacred.

Loud as all the sounds can be,
let our silence be loud
so the hungry may eat our words,
and the poor may wear our words.

Loud as all the sounds can be,
let our silence be loud
so we may resurrect the dead
and give voice to the oppressed.

Our silence speaks.”

Kamand Kojouri