Shahriar Shahriari

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Poems - Critique of Society - Group 4
On Humanity

 

  1. The Sweater
  2. Education
  3. Hungry young man
  4. The Freak
  5. Neon Light
  6. Life in the City

 


The Sweater

My grandma was knitting a sweater,
It was looking better and better.
Half way through, I told grandma
That in my friend's sweater I saw
A thread come loose, and we tried
To pull that thread, the defect hide,
The more we pulled, the more it run
For a short while it was lots of fun,
But very soon after the start
The whole sweater had come apart.
My grandma moved closer to me
Slowly knitting, for me to see
How the whole sweater was one thread
Pulling any knot, the sweater was dead.

It is the same with truth, love and justice
They are one fabric, made from one piece,
One lie anywhere, black or white
Affects all truth, darkness cast on light;
Any kind of hate, without debate,
Diminishes love, sooner or late;
The smallest injustice anywhere
Threatens justice everywhere;
Life is just like a sweater
Any destruction will matter.

Shahriar Shahriari
Vancouver, Canada
July 1, 1997


Education

We go to school and then college
In meticulous pursuit of knowledge
Become learned and grow wise
Yet we scarcely realize
The information that we learn
Dispassionately our hearts turn
Away from love and courage;
Curse of our age, heart disparage.

The price we pay for our knowledge
A hardened heart, lack of courage.

Shahriar Shahriari
Vancouver, Canada
July 12, 1997


Hungry Young Man

In the street, a young man made an appeal
"I am hungry, I desperately need a meal. "
Quickly I checked how it made me feel
And how with his wish I wanted to deal.
Compassion arose, my heart was not steel
My open purse the means did reveal.
Took him somewhere away from the chill
To his heart's content, his belly did fill
Pleased with myself I was on my way
To complete my chores for that day.
Soon I heard another young man say
"I am hungry, for food I too, pray."
And then one more, and one more young man
While the City pan-handling did ban.
To drive this problem underground
Seemed so absurd, insane, unsound.
To face the problem eye to eye
Would give us a chance at least to try,
And if compassionately we pry
These young lives we'll dignify.
I threw my arms up in despair
Does anyone see? Does anyone care?
I felt like a loan crusader
Hopelessly standing over there
Then I recalled the saintly word
In that hour of despair and discord,
"Think not the things that need be done
You're powerless, and will do none.
Think what it is that you can do
Empower yourself, hope renew. "
So I thought that at least that night
I helped a young soul his hunger fight,
Till another time, another young man,
I'll help with whatever I can.
To help a man with what you can
Better than changing the City plan.
With myself I made this simple vow
To deal with each moment in the now.
Divine stirrings of my soul
My life shall guide, my purse control.

Shahriar Shahriari
Vancouver, Canada
November 18, 1997


The Freak

Traveling in India, I came across
A shocking sight, to describe I am at loss.
A badly burnt beggar, he was so disfigured
To let him live, you'd surely say nature had erred.
Instinctively I turned away, I looked aside,
I realized this is the way ourselves divide.
I decided to turn to him, exert my will
Though I knew to look at him would make me ill.
It was strange, for in his eyes myself I saw
How would I feel if I were in his body now?
Then a wave of compassion swept over me
I realized in one stroke I could be he;
As "the Freak", by everyone he's outcast
This seems to be his destiny, to his last.

And what about disfigurement of my soul?
With mishaps in my psyche burning a hole?
Would I brand my own flaws as a "freak"?
Ignoring them, turning away, makes me weak!
The solution is to recognize all my flaws
Though painful, spend time, on them pause
Better to tend to my wounds, let them heal
For much about my own life they reveal,
Give them attention, love them with respect
For my whole too includes this aspect.

And the beggar is also creature divine
His soul too I must treat just as mine.

Shahriar Shahriari
Vancouver, Canada
June 5, 1997


Neon Light

"Rain City Grill" reads the neon light
A restaurant with an expensive bite
Homeless and hungry passing its sign
Advertising fine dinner with wine
None can go there to wine or dine
Will not cross that invisible line.
Yet the dumpster they'll search and mine
For leftovers that glow and shine.

To the hungry and poor that neon light
Reads as "Pain city" with knuckles White
The glitter of that neon sign
Is an invisible border line
To cross which you'll need a passport
With a green back and pictures of sort.

The neon glitter will gladly out glow
Human compassion, with its worldly Show.

Shahriar Shahriari
Vancouver, Canada
September 12, 1997


Life in the City

The cawing crows
Chattering sparrows
Street vendor's calls
Monotonously fill the halls
The car engines hum
As they go and come
The airplane lingers a while
The noisy silence thus defile
My hosts sleeping sound
Their servants milling around
Salvador Dali on the wall
Ancient stone heads large and small
The air is damp yet cool
Outside, sun's burning full.

A rich island in the city
Flaming sea of poverty;
Many such islands like oases
Sheltering the few from sweltering seas
Driven from one island to the next
Never touch poverty nor know its context.

Yet the majority are floating
Upon their broken boats are gloating;
Some are floating by the wreckage
Others receiving whatever package;
Some are eaten alive by the sharks
Hunger and disease, sleeping in the parks
During daylight or midnight dark
Both life and death leaving their mark.

Yet there is a strange resignation
No antagonism, no indignation;
And they accept life as it is
They gladly receive what life gives,
Yet some swim from sandy shore,
And some trade their wreck for more,
Some leave their island with hope
Sit in a boat, untie the rope;
Some leave their boat with a leap,
Benefit of some experience may reap.

But no-one knows what morrow brings
A swimming shark or pearl strings
And this is how life should be
In any place for me and thee.

Shahriar Shahriari
Vancouver, Canada
April 12-17, 1997


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This page was last modified on Thursday, September 30, 2004.