Sholeh Wolpé



  (Iran – USA)




The Painted Sun


A tempest is brewing in my pen

from which the ink of an “infidel”

is about to spill and stain

the walls of faith.


The turbaned owls of the crescent moon

the robed bears of the cross who have painted

the sun on the limestone walls of this prison

set fire to the air we breathe.


God weeps behind the mask tattooed on his face.




Yellow to Blue


I offer every ghost

who comes to my bed

a cigarette,


catalogue every untruth

I’ve told,

postpone everything



hire mourners in case

I jump, water

the wilted flowers on my

bedroom walls.


There is no calm

in patience,

no restlessness

in motion.


You can’t assign yellow

to blue,

and adjectives are sick

of being married

to nouns.


I want to go Da-Da-Da,

say NO

laced with yes,

paint horizons

over horizons,


because I know

a river never stops

stroking itself

towards the sea,


and cigarettes don’t

kill what’s already





The Writer


The bright warm day beckons

but I stay indoors, reluctantly

climb the stairs to my dark tower

where I sit and wait for the world

to set itself right,

for time to collapse

under my fingers tapping the keyboard.


Last month’s newspaper sits idle

under a coffee cup

rapes, murders, wars and politics

now fading ink.


The yellow daffodils so bright and cheery

last week in the garden

are wilting in the narrow blue vase


No matter how fiercely, how

tenderly I recreate the world.











Sholeh Wolpé was born in Iran, and spent most of her teen years in Trinidad and the UK before settling in the United States. Sholeh is a recipient of 2013 Midwest Book Award and 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize. Her eight publications include three collections of poetry, three anthologies and two books of translations. Her most recent publications are: Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths, and Breaking the Jaws of Silence: Sixty American Poets Speak to the World. Her poems, translations, essays and reviews have appeared in scores of literary journals, periodicals and anthologies worldwide, and been translated into several languages.  She lives (mostly) in Los Angeles.



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