Archive for March, 2005

An attempt to capture it…

Follow-up to Ah, such a Perfect Day… from Into the Flame

A poem I wrote after this day which I originally didn’t think much
of, but What The Hell. Its been a while since I posted a decent-length
poem, so here it is.

Hyde Park

The sun— a warm globe
of happily received
rays, reflected on
multiple ripples.

Prickly grass, dry
beneath us, rough
against exposed skin.
We sit, accumulating company.

Circular: the drum,
our group, the lake,
your birthday cake.
Eighteen—another year flown by.

Drum beats, tempo
peaks and voices rise,
billowing beneath
coloured kites flying high.

We cannot leave; we
magnetise and meet
eyes, laughing as we sing
meaningless philosophies.


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The Harp–player

A piece that I have written as the starting point for my super-portfolio. Let me know what you think.

The Harp-player

Leila, upon the high cliff strums
The tale of her love; with each
Note, her heart strings murmur
With hopeless longing for him,
For he who left her:

must go. You know I must. But I will be back; I will make my fortune
and return a better man with enough money to marry you. I will make you
the happiest wife a man could have. I love you, don’t forget it. I will

She looked into his large, sad eyes and saw her
reflection in his watery pupils. Her distorted expression was strong,
more so that she’d expected. She believed his true tone of voice,
returned his promise of love and limply let him push the woven ring
onto her finger. The blades of wheat stem were silky to stroke but
rough against her finger, a constant reminder of the grating strain of
love on her heart. It was a temporary token, to be replaced by a golden
seal on their wedding day, that joyful day, a cloudy mirage of the
future happiness that they would have.
The beach was crowded with village-folk who had come to bid the three
young men farewell; the three sons of Ishtar, their village Chief. The
oldest, Kamiar, was watched closely by Leila as he boarded the boat
reluctantly, waving his hands at family and friends, speaking phrases
of farewell. Tears were dabbed with handkerchiefs or wiped away by
sleeves. Leila’s trickled freely down her pink, wind-bitten cheeks and
dripped into the gusts of wind blowing about her as she stood on the
cliff-top, looking down upon the farewell scene. Some of her tears
carried as far as the boat and settled upon Kamiar’s head. He felt them
and looked up, expecting to see rain clouds, but instead he saw his
lover, perched high, plucking the strings of her harp. The doleful
melody pierced him and left a mark on his breast; a perfect circle.
His last words to her made an imprint on Leila’s mind and her memory of
everything else slowly faded: her family, her music and songs, all
disintegrated gradually until they were nothing more than shadows,
cowering in the dark corners of her mind. With his words, she composed
a new scale of notes and a melody so melancholy that birds would drop
out of the sky as they flew by her cliff-top perch, a gash in their
breast from where their heart’s had exploded.
Each day was the same. A routine developed. She would rise from her
bed, take up her harp and go to the cliff-top. The sky would clear
around her and the birds would stop singing and retreat to happier
parts of the countryside. The sea would dance and moan in pain as she
plucked his words on the harp strings, her heart growing weaker with
every vibrating note.

  • * *

The city was overwhelming. Kamiar had never seen people of so
many creeds and fashions and stared in awe as they strode through the
busy streets, each following their own purposeful path. Traders and
sellers of many wares paraded the high street calling out
advertisements about the quality of their goods; children played in
gutters and mice ran between people’s feet, narrowly dodging death;
commercial buildings towered above the scurrying business
professionals, and it was not long before Kamiar and his brothers were
lured into a lifestyle of chance, success, money and women.
For the first few months, Kamiar would wake to the sound of Leila’s
harp and, as she intended, he would be inspired to find decent work,
always holding the dream of their wedding day in the front of his mind.
As time went on, however, Kamiar began to notice other women: beautiful
women, witty women, women who were skilled in conversation, languages,
music and business. He began to forget his home and let the city life
engulf his spirit, let the women seduce him, let the business preoccupy
him. As the months turned into years, the memory of Leila and the
haunting sound of her harp faded into the dusty files of his mind and
the circular mark her music had left on his breast began to fade.

  • * *

The strings of Leila’s harp grew thin and tired, as did her
aging fingers, but she played on. The ring Kamiar had made for her was
disintegrating and rasped against her skin so furiously as she played
that her finger had become callous. The salty sea air kept her body
healthy and the wind had knotted her hair into a length of woven
plaits. The birds had long deserted the cliff for fear of their lives.
The village folk had abandoned any notion of helping Leila; they knew
she could not be healed – her ever fibre was surviving on the dwindling
hope of her lover’s return, but there had been no word from Kamiar for
over ten years.

It was sunset, a summer evening, and Leila
was coming to the end of her daily ode to Kamiar. Her fingers we
running the last scale and just as she was about to strum the last
chord, a string suddenly snapped. The finality of the snap shocked
Leila and she realised that her love was lost to her, Kamiar had
forgotten. Her heart gave in, and, choking on the years of accumulated
sadness, she passed away as the strings of her harp snapped one after
the other in a mass crescendo of painful relief. Her body slipped from
its perch and fell; fell down past the deserted bird nests, past the
weathered rock and into the rolling sea. The carcass of the harp, now
devoid of musical ability was left to rot. The stony cliff accepted it,
fused the wood to its rocky surface and gradually the harp became a
part of the cliff’s architecture, an arched frame of remembrance for
Leila’s perch.

  • * *

Kamiar’s life had been satisfactory. His printing business
was doing very well and he had married a beautiful, successful woman
who had borne him three healthy, handsome sons. Their house was modern
and comfortably large, they had the best clothes and his sons were
given the most comprehensive education available. Life was
satisfactory, but Kamiar had lately begun to think of his origins
again, his father, his relatives, his childhood home. He wanted his
sons to see the home of their ancestors, the life he had left to
provide for them, the place he had had to work up from to become the
important man he was today. His wife thought it a nice idea. A trip to
the countryside.

The boat rolled into the harbour and Kamiar
felt rain drops on his head. He looked up to see rain clouds littering
the sky and noticed the archway. It jogged a memory and the fuzzy
outline of Leila’s face materialised in his imagination, but he said
nothing and diverted his eyes to the shore where his family were
waiting to greet him.
That night, they sat around a blazing fire in the village square,
exchanging stories of the city and of the countryside. They discussed
the farming, the price of paper and meat, the taste of ale and wine,
the children’s education, the weave of cloth, the recipes of food. They
reminisced about the old days and told tales to Kamiar’s wife and
children of his mischievous youth. Leila had changed that though,
brought him right back down to Earth. The mention of her name brought a
misty silence upon the group and the fire shrank into remnant flames.
“Where is Leila? I have been meaning to ask. Where is she, that dreamy
harp-player I once loved?” Kamiar’s words seeped through the thick
tension that had suddenly descended and everyone stared hard into the
fire, avoiding his searching eyes. The fire flickered in the wind.
Eventually, Ishtar raised his head and looked hard at his son. “She is
dead. You broke her heart and it killed her.” Kamiar shook his head
dismissingly and replied, “That is a great shame. How fleeting the
heart can be. How was I to know she was so deeply infatuated? Poor
girl; ’tis a shame, a great shame.”
That night, as Kamiar slept next to his wife on a simple straw
mattress, a distant sound pervaded his dreams and grew louder very
gradually. In his sleep, he rose from the bed to follow the urgently
wistful call. Out of the house, through the village, past the village
boundary, up towards to the cliff-tops he went, the sound of the sea
swelling in his ears, mingling with the music to compose a salty
lullaby to his fate. Kamiar did not stop at the cliff edge. He reached
Leila’s perch and stood for a moment to absorb the night’s heavy burden
before jumping, arms wide, into the frothing sea which embraced him
with curling waves. The sea where his lost lover waited for him.
Somewhere, Leila’s spirit sighed, curled up and closed its wings to
rest in peace.

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New Year Haiku

Prompted by Joe to write a haiku this morning, here is what I came up with:

The axis spins; a
new year born on spring’s first day.
Laughter and bird song.

I have spent all afternoon playing music. I am so…happy.

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Persian New Year falls on the first day of spring, or the “vernal equinox” and this day was a New Year celebration in Roman and Greek cultures too.

12:33pm tomorrow the “celestial phenomenon” which is the vernal equinox
will occur and it will officially be spring. Persians will celebrate by
cleaning the house, wearing new clothes, cooking sweets and food, and
setting out a symbolic Haftsin tablecloth. Much singing and dancing will occur – general merriment all day!

There is also a superstitious belief
that at the moment of the equinox you can balance an egg on its end due
to “special gravitational forces”. If you feel like it, have a
go…take a raw egg and at 12:33pm tomorrow try and balance it on its
thin end…I’m told it can work…

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I can say without doubt that yesterday was almost perfect as days go, I think it was a reincarnation of Lou Reed’s perfect day.
It was my first time back in London since Christmas and the sun was
shining. I arrived in the morning and met my friend Nahid for a fatty
but really delicious burger at some nice burger bar in Westbourne
Grove. We then milled around, window shopping, laughing and making
prats of ourselves until early afternoon when we headed down to Hyde
Park to meet some more people.

Hyde Park in the summer is
just…yummy. I spent my childhood playing there so going back always
makes me nostalgic, frolicksome and free. We strolled down to the lake
and spead ourselves out on the grass by the water, soon to be joined by
some more friends, equipped with a tempo (drum) and Persian stringed
instrument called a “Tar”. Nahid’s sister joined us soon after with a
luciously creamy birthday cake to celebrate Nahid’s birthday. We spent
the afternoon stuffing ourselves with creamy luxury, playing music and
singing songs at the top of our voices. Passers-by either loved us or
found us amusing, byut none-the-less most of them couldn’t help but bop
along to our drum beats and happy clapping.

At one point we
were joined randomly by a rather stoned-looking Swedish guy who just
couldn’t get enough of our raucous fun. After listening to us sing and
joke around in Perisan for about ten minutes, he turned around and said
“Is this what all English people are like?” …??!! I just burst out
laughing and explained that we were Persian, not English. A lopsided
smile broke across his face and all he could say was “OH…yeah.”

We watched the sun set and, as dusk drew close around us, we packed up and made our way to see Lily Afshar,
a classical guitarist, in concert. It was ok, some of the songs were a
bit too modernist and didn’t work in my opinion, but the songs she
played well, were beautiful.

Later, we hit the town and I
had my first night out in London. We went to China White and it was
just oriental magic. The DJ was good, the people were hot and the decor
was tres funky. We got lucky and found a space on the couches to lay
about on piles of silky cushions with our cocktails like kings. It was
just great.

Crawling into bed at 5 in the morning, I felt so
satisfied. The Hyde Park fun in the sun, the music we made together,
the concert highlights, the club…everything merged into a warm glow in
the pit of my stomach and I slept like a baby.

A Perfect Day “I’m glad I spent it with you…” NAHID HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

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Charshanbe Soori…

Tonight is Charshanbe Soori and I have spent the past hour
or so jumping over fires. Why? you ask… well every year, on the
Wednesday before Persian New Year (march 21st), people light fires and
jump over them to get rid of your evils and ailments of the past year.
Yes, I am aware that it is Tuesday but because of the leap year it
falls a day in advance, as does new year which is on the 20th this

Anyways, the fire-jumping tradition dates back to
Zorastrianism (fire-worshipers) who believed that fire was the essence
of life, so the idea is that the fire will burn away your bad omens and
fill you with warmth to start the new year well. As you jump over the
fire you have to say: “Zardi-e man az to, Garmi-e to az man!” This,
roughly translated, means “Take my ailments and give me your warmth!”
and you can see how this is relevant to the philosophy of the
fire-jumping act!

I smell of smoke and have ash-stains on my
shoes but the question is do I feel relieved of my ailments and evils?
Hmmmm. Lets just say I’d like to think that I am!

Here’s a haiku I though of when I was watching the flames dance:

Inconstant flames swell
and lick the wind; warm us, burn
optimistic soles.

Charshanbe Soori Mobarak!
(Happy Charshanbe Soori!)

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Writing about web page http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Top+Banana

Well I never…

It is true, I kid you not…Top Banana is now in the dictionary…The Urban
Dictionary. This site is great – dictionary terms defined by random and
sometimes quite amusing people. You can add your own definitions too…go

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