Mohsen Emadi: Two poems from 'Standing on Earth'

Translation from Persian by Lyn Coffin


laws of gravity



On your planet, an apple falls from the tree

and Newtown discovers the laws of gravity.


On my planet, the telephone rings.

Newton picks up the receiver,

is hurled into the air,

and gets stuck in the branches of a tree.

I prefer to sit

on the principles of natural philosophy

and bite

floating apples--

which is to say

I want to weep a little.



a street where no dog barks

is a dead street

the dogs with lolling tongues


and grab the pants of a passing poet

the poet takes off his pants

and his shirt

and naked as the day he was born

escapes into the world

the dogs bark

and run from one street to another

a poet who forgets all his words doesn't have any weight

he turns into a straw in the wind.

The wind howls in the howling of the wolves

The wolves escape in the snow

which is burying the streets.


Newton's Elegies


Stones were blocking the river's way.

I was carrying fish in my hands

in the restlessness of bodies

in the turbulence of a pail going up the valley

to the pool inhabited by the hungry look of cats.

The stones were your eyes

the fish, the words of my sonnets

that in the year of the earthquake

were joined to the four elements.

the hair of Newton was covered with pebbles

the hair of Newton was smeared with mercury

the vapor of mercury was poisoning the paper

it was killing kings.


Newton was the acceleration of fish in the restlessness of

      the pail

in which he wanted to take stones from the river

and the earth was heavy

and his words became fish

his hair turned to poison.


sad eyes

joking eyes

covered by moss

next to each other on each other

form the walls of a prison

where the second law of Newton is being tortured

I was exiled to the first law

where neither the sound of breathing on the telephone

nor the calm growth of moss under contact lenses

      could reach--

just the solidifying voice of Newton

and the clots of blood on the surface of the prison

      wrote me.

Mercury is the struggle of eternity

stone is the age of earth in the second law of Newton,

the law condemned by the relativity of your eyes

that is released from Dachau

and scatters in the galaxy along with the Berlin wall.

Sad eyes

joking eyes

hang from the hair of Newton

in my abyss

the language.


With the first kiss

language attains

universal dimensions:

kisses build on the third law of Newton

a temple

which, later,

falls on Hiroshima.

The lips of cold wars

the lips of geography…

Mercury trembles in the mirror.

A pail of water

has been thrown on my image

The fish

are stuck to the magnet of my body.

The meat-eating fish

the small fish of the pool

are swimming within my borders

Their eyes are stones in the mirrors

the eyelids of the void

the eyelids of oblivion

O, solitude of Newton on the lips of women

O, vapor of mercury in the lullabies of mothers

O, philosopher's stone and tear gas.


Night sits back against the salt licks.

The moon shakes off the footsteps of astronauts

and your eyes overflow with time.

Your tears pass

from Newton's nightmares

into my poems

the words in a river of tears



O, the cold shroud of the paper

O, the white eternity

O, the absolute snow.


[Reprinted from M. Emadi, Standing on Earth, recently published by Phoneme Media, Los Angeles.]


Born in Iran, Mohsen Emadi is the award-winning author of four collections of poetry published in Iran and Spain. He has also translated numerous collections of poetry. Emadi studied Computer Engineering in Sharif University of Technology in Iran and Digital Culture at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland. He is the founder and manager of Ahmad Shamlou's official website, and The House of World Poets, a Persian anthology of world poetry featuring more than 500 poets from around the world. He was awarded the Premio de Poesia de Miedo in 2010 and IV Beca de Antonio Machado in 2011. Emadi has lived in Iran, Finland, the CzechRepublic, and Spain, and is now based in Mexico City.