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John & Philomene

Poetry and Prose from John Thomas and Philomene Long

John Thomas

The Beats: an Existential Comedy
by Philomene Long

Laureate at Ceremony

My Philomene

Illuminating the Wasteland

Majid Naficy

Van Gogh's Ear

Kate Braverman

Lynne Bronstein

Lynne Bronstein's Venice Poems

Ballad of Reading Jail

Wanda Coleman

John Kertisz

Stuart Z. Perkoff

John O'Kane

Clair Horner

Eavesdropping on the Boardwalk
by Anne Alexander

Venice Poems

Zendik poem:
Buck-or-Two Blues Rap

Gas House beat HQ

GV6: THE ODYSSEY

In Venice CA

 

 

Majid Naficy

"My body lives in L.A., but my soul
is still rummaging through the ruins of a
lost revolution back in Iran."

Majid Naficy was born in the ancient and architecturally rich city of Isfahan. A published poet since the age of 13, he comes from a family with a 3,000-book library which had to be broken up and distributed in various hiding places throughout the city because of political persecution.

His university career began with a year at UCLA, where he admired and learned from the student protests against the Vietnam War. The next year, he attended Tehran University, became a political activist, and vowed to give up the petit-bourgeois habit of poetry until the revolution had been won. Looking back, he regrets the extremism but not the impulse.

Majid Naficy's first wife Ezzat, also an activist, was executed on January 7, 1982 in Evin prison, Tehran. Surprisingly, the poetic muse returned to his life, along with a second activist wife with whom he escaped to the United States. Political asylum in the US did not bring peace. In a Los Angeles demonstration, one of their friends immolated himself and died after nearly two weeks of what must have been an agonizing existence.


Here is a sample from the extensive collection of poems about the homeless of Venice.

III. The Hungry in Venice Beach

They're standing in the line
The hungry in the morning
In front of Jesus Christ
And his truckload of bread.
"The addicts receive nothing!
The addicts receive nothing!"
The crowd yawns
And the sea gulls
Make a cross over them.
..............................August 7, 1986

Muddy Shoes, the first collection of Majid's poetry in English, was published by Beyond Baroque in 1999.

His other books in English are Father and Son a collection of poems published by Red Hen Press in 2003, and his doctoral dissertation, Modernism and Ideology in Persian Literature, published by University Press of America in 1997.

"Poet of the Revolution" by Louise Steinman, in LA Weekly

Writings by Majid Naficy
Prison Letters
I Cannot Forgive

 

 

 

Isfahan, by seier+seier+seier and appearing here
courtesy of Creative Commons


The Stone Turtle of Venice Beach
by Majid Naficy
For Harry Perry [1]

Ah, sea turtle
Did you, too, get lost in the sand one day?
Today, I see you lying there
Waiting for the passersby
To sit on your stony back.
Shadows become tall and taller
And small bangs of palm trees
Appear as large Bedouin tents.
Imru' Al-Qais comes out of the sand
[2]
Wearing a white head-scarf
And hanging a guitar from his shoulder.
When he smiles
His gold tooth shines.
He loosens his skate laces
And sets down a bottle of wine
From the red-dome tavern nearby.
His eyes are no longer wet.
Has his fleeting love returned
Or has he heeded abu Nuwas's advice?
[3]
Shadows are all gone
And the stone turtle is alone.
Perhaps he is dreaming of the sea.

October 20, 1994

[1] A turbaned, guitar-player on skates in Venice Beach, California. I've known this street-performer since the1980's.
[2] Imru' Al-Qais (501-544) A pre-Islamic, Arab-Yemeni poet who in his "Hanging Odes" complains of separation from love and homeland.
[3] Abu Nuwas (750-810) An Islamic-era, Arab-Iranian poet who advocated urban hedonism and ridiculed Imeru' Al-Qais's nomadic nostalgia.


A stanza from Majid Naficy's "Ah, Los Angeles is engraved on a concrete wall at Brooks Avenue and Ocean Front Walk.

© 2004 - 2012 Pat Hartman
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