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I Wrote This Poem for You

Today’s poem is “I Wrote This Poem for You” by Reza Jalali. He’s a former refugee from Kurdistan, Iran, writes fiction and poetry. He teaches at the University of Southern Maine.
He writes, “I read somewhere a poet’s task is to keep the world awake. Sometimes a good poem makes the reader feel restless. I watch the news and worry what will happen if we fall asleep and we become too afraid to open our eyes, to see, to witness, or to weep? I worry what will happen if the nightmarish lullaby of indifference puts us to sleep, just as the world around us is burning?  I wrote this poem, putting one word next to another, moving them here and there, the way one fingers a worry bead, one at a time, muttering prayers for a world that’s broken. Maybe a poet’s task is to worry.”

I Wrote This Poem For You
by Reza Jalali

I write this poem
To wake you up,
For in your sleep
You will not hear
The sighs of
Migrant children
Kept in cages at the border.

I write this poem
To wake you up,
Yes, you!
For sleep can wait
The fish are dying
And trees are burning
Old men dreaming of wars
Mothers burying their sons
For sleep can wait
But not the oceans
The forests
The elephants
The bees
The butterflies.
Maybe the world wants you asleep?
The sorrow around you
The tyranny,
Forces you to shut your eyes
Falling, falling to sleep
Wake up!
The old men lie
The world burns
And the fish die
The lions are shot
The forests catch fire.
This is no time to sleep
Despair is the whispered lullaby
Fear being the pill
Putting you to sleep

I write this poem to wake you up
Sleep can wait
The olive trees cannot
Children kept in cages,
Kurdish mothers,
Clad in black,
Call your name.
Wake up my dear,
Old men steal our dreams
To sell it for profit
I write this poem to wake you up
Say something!
Keep me awake
I need to finish
writing this poem.
I write this poem
To wake you up . . .

“I Wrote This Poem For You” copyright@2020 by Reza Jalali. This poem appeared originally in Enough! Poems of Protest (Littoral Books, 2020) and appears here by permission of the author.