Video: “Neda” from 100,000 Poets for Change at Gallery X

This is the first video from the open mic at Gallery X.  Thanks to Dawn Lopes for recording it for me.

Like many people watching and reading about the Arab Spring, I had seen the youtube video of the final moments of Neda Agha Soltan.  It hit home on so many levels: I have a sister of the same age, (whom, if she felt her vote wasn’t counted, would have been out there on those streets protesting with everyone else),  a large population of young people yearning for a secular  government and more freedom, a nation of people no longer trusting those in power, etc.

Earlier drafts of this poem had me describing the protests and Neda’s death from my point of view. After many edits I decided to switch it to being from her point of view, in order to take the reader closer to the streets of Tehran, where a young woman lost her life while protesting peacefully.

NEDA

by Kris Weinrich

For Neda Agha Soltan, 1982-2009, her final moments were captured on a cellphone camera during a protest against rigged elections in Tehran, Iran.  In Farsi, her name means “Voice”

A flowerbed

                of arms blooms between the concrete and me.

A bullet

                burns in my chest, an angry arrowhead
                of copper and lead.

A camera

                meets my eyes just before blood
                pools my mouth, painting my face.

A whirlwind

                of hands and pleas: “Neda, don’t be afraid!
                Stay with me!  Stay with me!”

* * *

A city 

                 of green banners, defiant poetry on placards, 
                 pictures of the beaten and the dead.

A name, 

                 my name, ignites the rooftops of Tehran.

A voice 

                 of thousands scrapes the night sky
                 with a call and response anthem
                 of the only words they can say
                 without being arrested, 

Allah hu akbar, Allah hu akbar!

God is great, God is great.

copyright 2012, Octopus Ink.

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