I Do Not Want You, Petroleum


I Do Not Want You, Petroleum
by Majid Naficy

This poem was first published in Persian in Sorrow of the Border (anduh-e marz) San Diego 1989, and then in English in Muddy Shoes (Beyond Baroque Books 1999) as well as Poets Against the War edited by Sam Hamill (Nation Books 2003).PERSIAN TEXT

I don't want you, petroleum!
For a long time,
I thought that you burnt for me.
Now I see that I am burning for you.

I'm not saying that it's not pleasant
Sitting near a kerosine heater
And enjoying the falling snow.
Or the working water pumps
In the empty plain.
And yet, I cannot believe you,
Seven-headed dragon!
Fire still spews forth from your mouth
To the soul of my homeland.

In your school I learned servitude,
So that the khan of the tribe
Could send his son to London [1],
The Imperial Army in Mohammara [2]
Forced me to abandon
The dream of a „House of Justice‰. [3]
On the street my blood was shed,
It turned into ink
For the pens which wrote
The new contracts of slavery. [4]
The grand gates of falsehood [5]
Opened with your keys.
Today the promised Messiah rides
On you, donkey of the Antichrist.

You raised this state to the heavenly throne
And polished its boots to a sheen.
You raised its seven-headed club
And whenever I tried to pull it down
You reinforced its shaky body
With your sturdy beams.
No! I don't want!
I don't want you, petroleum!
Oh, bloody stream!
For a long time,
I thought you gave me blood.
Now I see, you made me bleed.

May 18, 1987

[1] At the turn of the century, the British made an agreement with the khans of the Bakhtiyari tribe who ruled the area where petroleum was first discovered in Iran.
[2] Today called "Khorramshahr", a city near the Persian Gulf.
[3] The initial slogan of the movement which led to the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911 in Iran.
[4] After the nationalization of the oil fields, Dr. Mosaddeq, the prime minister who had led this movement, was ousted by the CIA, and in 1953 the Shah returned to power and made new contracts with Western companies.
[5] The Shah's slogan in the late 1970's was "Iran is marching towards the grand gates of civilization". �


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WOW! This is a poignant

by anononmous (not verified) on

WOW! This is a poignant reinforcement of all of the sentiments I have always imagined a thinking, insightful Persian would have about what has happened in his country.

BRAVO and thank you.