Poetry by Nadia Anjuman

I Wish


I wish I could be sated by the wine of his beauty
or, burned in the flames of his love, become the master of his heart
I wish I could be a teardrop blooming on the flower of his face
or a curl of his perfumed hair
I wish I could be the dust sitting in his path
or under the sun of his gaze, melting bit by bit
I wish I could be a secret parading before him
or become rare words on his still lips
I wish I could accompany my friend, like a shadow in each breath,
or stay up until dawn from the thrill of his presence
I am devoting my mind to my heart’s hope, which breaks from separation
I am closing the door on grief, becoming moonlight from head to toe

Sarataan 1378 / Summer 1999


O sky, pour down on this burnt earth–
she is yearning for a drop of life’s rain
Her lips are dry, her heart on fire
It is like looking at death

O cloud, drift toward this scorched land
A thousand farmers watch for you
Come, for the emerald mountains of the city
have worn mourner’s clothes for ages

O water, O nature’s healer, please come
Your absence breaks the flowers’ hearts
The gardens have no strength left
Smiles have dried from lips

O lord, don’t let the farmer
die thirsty in the furnace of time
One drop is an eternal gift,
renewing the farmer’s weak hands

O lord, show pity to the sullen nomads
O lord, show favor to the anguished heart of the sea
O lord, to the spring’s burning lips
to the burnt deserts, pour relief of rain

We are shamed and broken servants
drowned in sin, in blinding darkness
O lord, don’t let us weaken further
Absolve us, though we earned this torment

Pour water on us, for we are in flames
Some water to wet the spring’s arid eye
This burning earth is your disciple’s bedroom
don’t let it reel into complete chaos

Asad 1379 / Summer 2000

Tragic Stories

O tragic stories
you have made homes of our hearts
These sorrowful eyes, these hollowed yellow cheeks
these are the grim marks of your presence
O branches of sorrow!
One hundred springs and autumns come and go
buds wither with scarred hearts
one hundred blockades clear and one hundred caravans pass
Pharaoh dies and Nimrod’s tale ends–
yet you are still green and fresh
as if just from the garden’s womb

O scorching misery
leave the reaches of our hearts–
they are not the only things worth burning
For once, pass through another’s house

O tragic stories
your company overwhelms us
If you do not seek a new house, beware
Tomorrow we will go from the sorrowful ruins of life–
and you, wretched and exposed
in the limbo of time
will be homeless

Hamal 1380 / Spring 2001

The Night’s Poetry


It is night–a poem kindles my thoughts
Eagerness combs my voice like knotted hair

What kind of fire quenches thirst?
What scent excites the body of my air?

I don’t know which mountain, which mountain of my desire
blows a fresh breeze through my hot solstice

From a bright cloud falls such pure light—
there is no need for my crying

Sparks pour from my sighs like stars
The pigeon of prayer nestles in my empyrean

My wild tears fall on each line of his book
Look how they flow needlessly–my God

After volumes of each word, a Mahshar of my every thought,
comes rebirth after an era of my quiet

Morning, don’t tear at the silk of my illusion
I swear to the night–it kindles my thoughts

Aqrab 1381 / Fall 2002

In the Company of Spring’s Daughter

Singing rain brought you here
You made my glances quicken
The sight of you caused a tumult within me
You brought change to my garden’s dream

What trembling are you? What harmony, your frame
that every leaf of you dances with itself?
Your amorous buds and coyness and light and wind
all work intently, unaware of my gaze

How do you know the pigeon so well
that it tells you secrets as soon as you’re here?
What if I were to know you, O smart one?
What wisdom does it tell with its song?

My hostess, if you have admired my poem
invite me under the shade of a cypress tree
Sit me on a rug of spangled clover
and gift me two bunches of sweet basil

Hoot 1381 / Late Winter 2002


Nadia Anjuman

As a teenager in Herat, Afghanistan, Nadia Anjuman (1980-2005) attended the Golden Needle School in which a group of women gathered to meet and discuss literature with local professors under the guise of practicing needlepoint (a pastime approved by the Taliban government). In 2001, with Afghanistan’s liberation from the Taliban, Anjuman began attending Herat University and soon published a book of poetry entitled Gul-e-dodi (Dark Flower). Her readership was not limited to Afghanistan: Gul-e-dodi found readers in Iran, Pakistan, and beyond. She continued to write poetry despite the objections of her husband and his family, and she was set to publish a second volume of poetry in 2006 entitled Yek Sàbad Délhoreh (An Abundance of Worry). In November 2005, Anjuman’s husband beat her and Anjuman ultimately died from injuries sustained in the altercation. In 2007, Anjuman’s complete works were published in the original Persian-Dari by The Iranian Burnt Books Foundation. Gul-e-dodi has been reprinted three times and sold over three thousand copies.

Diana Arterian and Marina Omar

Diana Arterian was born and raised in Arizona. She currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is pursuing her PhD in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Southern California. Diana is a Poetry Editor at Noemi Press and a Managing Editor and founding member of Ricochet. She is the author of Death Centos (Ugly Duckling Presse), and her writing and translation has appeared in Aufgabe, Black Warrior ReviewCircumference, DIAGRAM, and The Volta, among others.


Marina Omar was born in Afghanistan and has worked as an interpreter for Afghan refugee families. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia.

Copyright (c) The Iranian Burnt Books Foundation, 2007. English translation copyright (c) Diana Arterian and Marina Omar, 2015.