Rapping on the compound door,
I waited for M. to answer,
Three knocks, a pause and two more,
That was the code,
I carry music for the revolutionaries.
My records in a cloth bag,
All my albums and my 45s,
Most pirated in Iran,
A jumble of rock and roll, Motown, and pop,
I ‘m leaving in a week,
Flying back to the States,
Leaving my adopted country,
Without my belongings.
There were rules;
Don’t talk about the government if there are more than three people in the room,
Stand during the national anthem at the cinema,
Don’t tell anyone about socialism, Marxism, communism.
Keep your fucking mouth shut,
Don’t talk, don’t tell.
The Marxists and I met at the Iran-America Society,
They plotted to overthrow the Shah,
While I learned to smoke cigarettes,
Coughing on cheap filterless Persian smokes,
Drinking orange sodas or beer,
And eating grilled cheese sandwiches.
Serious bearded, gruff men,
Talking in undertones,
Scribbling maps and notes on napkins which they later tore into pieces,
Some of them shooting dope,
Some getting killed by the gendarmes during riots,
Some getting taken away by Sarvak,
Their family taken, their lovers, their friends.
Here and now, I can sit in a café drinking a latte,
Wearing a queer, librarian anarchist shirt,
Flaunting my indiscretion,
But not changing a fucking thing,
I need to remember M.,
I need to remember so we don’t disappear.