Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Poetry: Henry Howard


Sometimes the strongest voice
Is scarcely raised above a whisper,
Quiet as the flutter of a butterfly’s wings,
A gentle movement of the air
That makes a sound no thunder can suppress.

On your way to the rally at Freedom Square,
Perhaps you had been taught long ago how to talk to God:
So softly only God can hear you,
But in the lesson you have taught us with your dying,
The whole world can hear you now.

You did not join in fiery chants
Or calls for revolution,
Choosing instead
To let your ballot be your voice.

But when your vote was trampled
By those who cling to power at any cost,
You voted with your feet
Until a sniper’s bullet laid bare your heart.

“I’m burning! I’m burning!” you cried,
With the only words that millions heard you speak.
But the moment that silenced your voice forever
Set a fire of hope that is burning still.

Before you marched,
Only those closest to you
Knew your name.
Yet within hours of your death,
You became a global household name.

How strange that they silenced you, Neda,
Whose very name
Means “Voice.”
From the silence of the grave,
You have become “The Voice of Iran.”

Neda—even your name is gentle.
It rolls off the tongue
With a playful softness
Reflected in the Internet pictures of your face.

At 26, you were just beginning to find your voice,
But your death made the world hear
The legions of the voiceless,
And brought Iran,
So far away, so misunderstood,
Into our own backyards.

The State will always use
The cruelest and crudest weapons
To shoot down what can never be silenced:
The primal cry of every soul
To be counted as equal.

Shadowy men, faceless and unnamed,
Blew a hole in your heart
And broke the heart of a nation,
But the State will never learn:
When power confronts humanity,
One voice may be silenced
But a people awakens,
And never silenced again.

Henry Howard

(Published at Poets Against the War.)


Blogger Chelsea L. Clemmons said...

What an impressive, heart-rending poem. My hat is off to this one.

Chelsea Clemmons, Author of A Collection of Reflections

10:38 PM  

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