Tag Archives: sick

Mahvash Sabet’s “Lights Out”

Mahvash Sabet is a Bahá’í prisoner of conscience currently serving an unjust 20 year sentence in Iran. Read more of her story here.

Lights Out

Weary but wakeful, feverish but still
fixed on the evasive bulb that winks on the wall,
thinking surely it’s time for lights out,
longing for darkness, for the total black-out.

Trapped in distress, caught in this bad dream,
the dust under my feet untouchable as shame,
flat on the cold ground, a span for a bed,
lying side by side, with a blanket on my head.

And the female guards shift, keeping vigil till dawn,
eyes moving everywhere, watching everyone,
sounds of the rosary, the round of muttered words,
fish lips moving, the glance of a preying bird.

Till another hour passes in friendly chat,
in soft talk of secrets or a sudden spat,
with some snoring, others wheezing
some whispering, rustling, sneezing—
filling the space with coughs and groans,
suffocated sobs, incessant moans—

You can’t see the sorrow after lights out.
I long for the dark, the total black-out.

I am not sure what breaks my heart more: the difficult circumstances of Mahvash’s life, health and incarceration or the beauty and sublimity of her poetry under such difficult circumstances! Please keep Mahvash in your hearts; she is gravely ill in prison, suffering from tuberculosis of the bone.

Please consider purchasing Mahvash Sabet’s poetry as an act of solidarity in the fight for human rights: in the US, from Amazon; in the UK, directly from the publisher.


This English edition of Lights Out is ©2013 by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, who adapted the original Persian texts into English; all rights reserved.


Filed under Poetry

My hero

I need words but I am at a want for them,
hope, but there is none to be had;
understanding, but there are only these whispers
and they just echo in my head.

They are not me, but I will own them;
they are me, but I will not rue them;
they are not me, but I will hold them,
they just are, are, are.

Mental illness is a burden on the afflicted and an equal burden on those who love them. It is a sad thing to see someone you know to be sweet, smart and funny caught in the grips of mental illness. They slowly become someone else who is different and not the person you know they really are.

But if mental illness in general is a burden, the hardest to bear is schizophrenia. You see the person slip into a world where it is harder and harder for them to understand reality and yet the one thing they hold on to is the absolute assurance that they are not ill and that their view of the world is perfectly real. There is no “logical” way to explain that their world is not “reality,” that what they perceive is not the way the world really is, that they are not in the danger they think they are.

And it is persistent, a heartache that never relents. Anyone who suffers from schizophrenia and who, every day, tries to rise above it and beyond it is my hero. Every day.

Thank you for reading My hero. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.


Filed under Poetry