Poem: King Lear…an odyssey in rhyming couplets


lear imagePrecisely as advertised.  This is my formulation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, set to rhymic couplets in more or less iambic pentameter.  Unfortunately it is a work in progress.

The Ballad of Reading Lear
by Showey Yazdanian

Once, long ago, was a silly old king
Who played with the world at the end of a string.
His name was King Lear, a fierce Brit was he
And haughty and stubborn, as proud as can be.
Now, the royal King Lear was aged more than eighty
When he decided his kingship had become rather weighty
So he gave up the duties to which he was written
And decided to divy the Kingdom of Britain.
He called his three daughters to his gold, kingly post
And loudly demanded, “Kids, who loves me most?” Continue reading

Fiction: Where did the title “Life is Perhaps” come from?


forough2The title of my book Life is Perhaps was snatched from “Another Birth”,  a poem by the most famous female poet Iran has ever produced – the tragic and sublimely talented Ms. Forough Farrokhzad.  The following is excerpted from a biographical sketch by Melissa Barnhardt in Rozaneh Magazine:  “The modern Iranian Poetess Forough Farrokhzad (1935-1967) virtually “opened the windows” of Iranian poetry to real relationships and the real world. While Persian poetry had already been somewhat liberated by the free verse of the 1920s, her frank presentation of feelings about loving, sexual relationships was revolutionary. She did the unthinkable, not only writing about intimacy in a predominantly Shiite Moslem society, but writing about it from an utterly honest, utterly feminine point of view. Without fear, she said what had always been forbidden, inwards that had never before appeared in a literary work… Continue reading

Poem: A Tree


treeA poem by Showey Yazdanian (age eight)

What do you plant when you plant a tree?

You plant a table for you and for me.

When you plant a tree, what you have in all

Is a lovely bookshelf on the wall.

When you plant a tree, what is done?

A window ledge and frame, to look at the sun.

See what you plant when you plant a tree?

You plant almost anything that there can be.**

 

**This poem is notable for its crass consumerism.

Story: The Physics Class


This story was originally published in “Footprints for Mothers and Daughters” (HarperCollins) in May 2011.   Night school. The drone of a lecture in the darkness; students a little surly, a little soiled with the day’s dust and sweat; teachers a little grey, a little grim as they too hurriedly gulped at tuna sandwiches and warmed-over pasta at break-time. There was little pleasure in it for any of us, but that was night school. We all needed something. The teachers needed a little extra money; I needed one last high school credit to graduate on schedule. Continue reading

New short story: The Circus


The Circusa story by Showey Yazdanian

Abbas Farmanfarma, forty-five and hefty, hated Toronto in the summer. He was perspiring prodigiously into a huge American car on his way home from work, burning with anger at the traffic that dragged along the highway in slow motion.

“What a country,” mumbled Abbas, fat face glistening under its mighty Iranian five o’clock shadow as a bus blurted a smelly black cloud into his windshield. “You either freeze or boil.” Continue reading

New short story: Chicken


Chicken
by Showey Yazdanian

 

It was only after he had endured fifteen days of dusk-light in the daytime, after he had drank in the frail beauty of snow falling on a sleeping city, after he had nearly choked on the shock of twenty degrees below zero, that Bobak understood he was now useless.

In Iran he had been a man of taste, a lover of the old poets, a man who sipped contraband sherry in the evenings. Here in Canada he was one more nothing in a wash of nothingness. Here no one cared for a former professor of Iranian literature; here a million cold people jostled for position in the dirty snow.

Roxana was still sleeping, so Bobak prepared the tea himself, grateful to Massoud for the sugar cubes in the cupboard. He placed a cube of sugar on his tongue, poured hot tea into his throat, and thought of Sohrab, of Sohrab and of little Haleh who slept like a doll with her close black curls. It was for them and only for them that thus had he lowered himself.

Roxana stirred at last, looked sleepily at Bobak, who was sipping tea by the window.

“Roxana, my dear,” said Bobak, “Look at the snow.”

“It’s beautiful,” she said, and began to cry.

 

***

Continue reading

New short story: The Accident


The Accident
by:  Showey Yazdanian

 

Every cabbie in town will tell you that he used to be a brain surgeon back in Tehran, and often enough he’s telling the truth. Fifteen years in a taxi have probably erased every shred of surgery from his head, but the cabbie cannot bring himself to admit this, and at parties he will still introduce himself as Doktor to the cashiers and delivery boys who were once electrical engineers.

In their old lives, in Tehran, Doktor Morteza Farshi was a pharmacist. His wife Nahid worked as his assistant, and all day long they stood behind the counter at the Pasdaran Pharmacy on Vozara Street dispensing ulcer medicine and cholesterol pills and contraceptives. In the evenings, Nahid would exchange her sterile white headscarf for one in paisley, and together they would return home to a little flat in Ekbatan. After their daughter Farah was born, Nahid stayed with the baby and Morteza worked longer, sometimes well into the night.

Morteza and Nahid left Iran for the same reasons that everyone else did: because they were poor and without prospects, because the regime was suffocating them. They were tired of the basij, the petty Islamic officials who spied on everyone, ready to pounce on a hint of Westoxification: a man in a Red Hot Chilli Peppers T-shirt, a woman in an extraneous coat of lipstick. It was a basiji who had seized their illegal satellite dish, a young boy fresh from the army. Two months later Morteza dragged himself to the black market and recovered it: the very same dish, crack down the back, Korean markings and all.

They were tired as well of the constant guesswork about who was a harmless religious zealot and who was a dangerous religious zealot and who was not a zealot at all, but only pretending. Everyone made a great show of abstinence, but even the genuinely pious Morteza would occasionally have a swallow of alcohol at a party – Absolut if his hosts could afford it, and saghi – medical alcohol mixed with juice – if they could not. Nahid wore a long black manteau in public, and an even longer one after she got married, but she kept a dazzling red cocktail dress hidden away for the parties back home with her fashionable friends. Even the children were infected: little Farah’s cousins inscribed their homework with the compulsory phrase “In the Name of God”, but they all had satellite and worshipped the Power Rangers. Continue reading