This is not about Delphi the supernatural oracle, as it happens it’s about a natural man/poet. And for that matter not in Greek but in Persian. And as the story goes: on a December evening in Abadan, five plain clothes officers arrive at the Delphi’s family home with a search and arrest warrant for Raaouf Delphi. They take away his mobile phone, his books and personal computer to an unidentified place. After five days of interrogation and accusations about his poems and articles, he is detained at the Lindeh prison in Abadan. Ten days later, he is out on bail.

Raaouf Delphi’s case is still open. He has been through two court hearings, awaiting the third and the final hearing. In the meantime he is banned from any communication with foreign press or any activity on the Internet.

This account has come to us purely from friends of Raaouf. And here is an apt poem of his, with my attempted translation. It so chimes with his circumstances.

Forgetting the clouds
My heart is more overcast
And December rain is not meant
to announce my thirty something birthday
on the calendar’s twenty seventh
When there’s no one there
It’s okay
when the cigarette finished
I finish
And the fresh clouds will see
I am more overcast than the sky
I wish the tobacconist still gave out those free cigarettes
So I won’t owe you anything
shoplifting aside
they won’t draw the line on me cause I’m dead

It’s okay
when the cigarette finished
I finish
So you will celebrate
Twenty seven times the calendar
Thirty something years of sanctions is enough
For you to understand
How much you don’t understand
December twenty seventh, is a month more overcast than the weather
And graves of silence…the clouds were written into the calendar
I am not going to be born

It’s okay
when the cigarette finished
And I confess
The war
Took away my childhood and you confess the remains
Of the adventure why does it have so many whys?
And don’t give me the answer
Let cancer do its job
And you do your own…

Forgetting the clouds
It’s winter again
And prison is a good place for me to think
Of the girls I make up
And when they pass the clouds
There is rain
Twenty seventh of December
Thirty something times I go to their bed
So that I confess
“the bed is my desk”
The tobacconists are still giving out free cigarettes
So I don’t owe you anything
Shoplifting aside
If we forget the clouds
Its December
And I won’t come into your world