Mamad Ali’s Hour

4 a.m. will always be a special time for Mamad Ali

(I have heard him scream I have heard him scream)

how many hours does he have in 24?
20 hours he has
he’s tortured 20 hours every 24

for the remaining 4 hours
he crawls on his stomach to the cell for an hour
he stares 2 hours at the wall
he dozes off an hour
until the strident clang of the cell door
snaps him out of his sleep like the lash

it is 4 a.m.
outside
the call for morning prayer has surely begun
Dr. Rassuli is praying
then he rolls up his sleeves and takes
Mamad Ali to the torture chamber
for the sake of the god he alone knows

Mamad Ali pisses blood for days, does Mamad Ali

4 a.m. will always be a special time for Mamad Ali

(I have heard him scream I have heard him scream).

— Reza Baraheni

An Azerbaijani Turk from Iran, Reza Baraheni was imprisoned, tortured, and kept in solitary confinement by both the Shah’s regime and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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