Avideh Shashaani



People of the world,
Tell me where to be born.

If I were born in the land
Of "your interest,"
Would you let me die?

People of the world,
My name is Holocaust and
I'm fifty-some years old.

My name is Sarajevo and
I'm three years old
My name is Bijac and
I'm but a month old.

And I have no name,
I'm yet to be born.

People of the world,
Tell me where to be born
So you will not hurt me one day
So you will not maim me one day
So you will not kill me one day.

People of the world,
Tell me where to be born.



Fairy tales are true--
Don't you know
When they become tales?
Children always say,
"Tell me another one
So I can dream."
What are dreams made of?
I'm told by children,
Fairy tales are real,
They seem real in dreams.
It's when they grow up
They become tales.



Is it icicles
Or is it the stillness
Of tear drops
In my heart?

Is it a lush summer's day
Or is the glow that
Transpires from Your eyes
And settles on naked
Winter days?

Is it the moon
Or is it the love
In my heart that
Illuminates the shadows
In the darkness of night?

Is the lack of faith
That prohibits the
Execution of Your command,
Is it my clumsiness,
Or is it the test of faith?
For You say, "Be," and it is.
So it must be
The test of faith.


Sheila Rotner
Apotheosis IV

2001, acrylic, mica and sand on canvas woven
into wire mesh, 48 x 48 inches.
See more work by Sheila Rotner





Why is it that we destroy?
Why is it that we love?
Why is it that we hate?

Do we suffer because
We allow others to
Enter our world
Thinking they
Can fill our
Empty spots?
Is it that we don't
Know what fulfillment is
Or is it that we refuse
To give up our selfhood?

Is it that we have totally lost
Our link, our bond,
Living in the labyrinth
Of the stone-age
Layers of our minds?

If we had all the silver
And gold,
All human love,
All health,
All needs met,
Would we still
Look for something else?



Do you want to know
The way of silence?
You must move through pain,
You must become pain.
Yes, purification is pain--
Yes, you must burn
Nothing of you must remain.
The way of silence
In the dominions of God
Is through total submission.
There is no other way.
Do ashes have a will
Of their own?



My soul,
Did you know
Why the candle flame
Looks serene and sad?
The only way it can
See itself
Is to burn
And melt.
It knows it must
Burn and melt,
So it can see itself.
It watches its
Reflection mirrored
In the pool
Made of its own
Slow death.



My soul,
I wonder if black pearls
Reflect the last stage
Of growth that
The journey holds for
Those whose hearts
Have reached the state
Of the Black Stone?

I recall a time
When I was beautiful and young,
And saw a string of black pearls
For the first time.
I said to a wise old woman,
There's no other jewel
That I would desire
But the most beautiful
String of black pearls.

Now I know why
The lines on her face withdrew,
Her eyes became dim and remote,
And her voice aged suddenly.
Should I have tears now,
They won't be rubies, sapphires,
The Black Stone only knows
How to carve black pearls,
Or is it when there
Are no tears left
The Black Stone
Is carved into black pearls?
My soul,
Why do some oysters bed
Black pearls,
While most others
Mother white ones?

My soul,
I wonder if God
Likes strings of
Black pearls?



Sadness has its own fruit,
It's like pomegranates--
Have you looked inside?
Don't you see scarlet
Teardrops formed around
Each white pearl?

Why is it scarlet now
My friend?
Look at the tree of the pomegranate--
It's so modest and frail
It barely exists.
Its fruit wears the crown of its toil.
Does your heart look like the pomegranate
My friend?


Avideh Shahaani is the founder and president of Fund for the Future of our Children. She has been a wellness consultant and trainer for over fifteen years and has translated eight published texts from Persian to English. She has published two books, Promised Paradise and Remember Me: A Sufi Prayer. She received her BA in Psychology from the University of Maryland and her PhD in Sufi Studies from the Union Institute in Cincinnati, OH. She has been a student of Sufism since 1981.

Published in Volume 5, Number 2, Spring 2004.