Davoud Safdarian’s Me, Rain, and a Hired Taxi is a bilingual collection of 188 lyric poems. Each poem is a single quatrain, with two poems in Persian printed on the left side of the page and their English translations printed on the right.
The poems range topically from romantic love to reflections on human nature to spiritual growth; there appears to be no deliberate grouping by theme or by a speaker’s progression through specific life milestones. The two poems that appear on any given page read, in most cases, as if randomly joined. One representative example is the two poems that appear on page 51. The first, “God Solitude,” ponders a spiritual question and concludes: “Still this is like a riddle to me. /Why is God alone when God has us?” The second, titled “Heart to Heart,” begins in a secular, romantic vein, “She connected one of [sic] cable leads to my heart,/ the other one to her heart.”
Unfortunately, many of Safdarian’s poems lack concrete detail and sensuous images, even as they address sensuous themes. For instance, in “Lovemaking 8,” Safdarian relies solely on abstractions to communicate desire: “When I saw you, my body filled up with love./ My inside was filled up with happiness.” While a few of Safdarian’s poems are visceral and compelling, they often read as if excerpted from a longer meditation; one wishes for more. One of the best examples of this is “Translator”: “Somebody killed a thirst with a flask of water./ Somebody killed a thought with a skull./ A living person gave birth to a poem./ A translator killed the poem through translation.”
The book offers a visually pleasing symmetry but the fact that there are no variations in structure throughout results in stylistic monotony. If the poet chose to vary his poem lengths, arrange his pieces thematically, and rely on his powers of imagery over more abstruse generalizations, his collection would have much greater appeal.
Also available in hardcover.