Persian has no Pronouns

We do not address you
by a word that means nothing

Her name is more powerful
than their pronouns

We do not hide behind I
when expressing me

Do not take it offensively

They don’t understand this
His tryst
When it is he and she but not we

There is no power in you

They, us and we
are arbitrary

The man is she
and the woman is he
but we are it

Do not forfeit
to this
unnecessary metaphor

 

(Published in “Seven Countries Poetry Anthology” by Arroyo Seco Press 2017. Originally published on 06/17/2016)

Cinema Rex

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The police burned the theater.
Padlocked the door
with people still inside.
They doused the theater
in kerosene
and crossed the street
to watch it burn.
Whether the theater attendees
were heretics or
not
is irrelevant.

The image of their
melting faces
haunts me.
The outsiders who weren’t afraid
clawed at the padlock.
The police smiled as they
cocked their guns and
flicked their cigarette butts.

Purging a necessary evil,
the event must be cleansed,
evidence destroyed.
The police were just doing their job.

But there was a survivor.
A fuzzy black and white Polaroid
of a gasoline truck in front of a charred poster.
The only survivor
incineration inevitable
but like Winston
I let it go down the chute
and now it has been burned away
charred in forgetful memories.

(Published in “Seven Countries Poetry Anthology” ” via Arroyo Seco Press 2017)

(Originally published on 06/03/2016. Image transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by BanyanTree using CommonsHelper.; source: http://abadan.net, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6081274)

Mother Tongue

Sometimes I wish

I was born white and blank.

My eyes survey the room in technicolor

Charlie Chaplin spectrum of silence.

I scream and

water pours out

of my mouth

My hands clutch

my face

everyone turns

and stares.

The dark man

in the back

winks

but smiles white.

My colors are spilling

out.

I’m asked to clean it up

handed a sieve.

I fill the porous container

and stumble towards the window.

A river trails behind me

Iridescent scars slashed across the floor.

I try to throw it

out the window

but the sieve is empty.

I laugh.

Then I sing

a kaleidoscopic downpour

and I douse myself with it.

(Published in “Hell Bitches #3”  via Radish 2017 & “Seven Countries Poetry Anthology” via Arroyo Seco Press 2017)

Originally published on 06/03/2016

 

Who Were You?

The silk nightgown hung loose ending
just above your knees
as you frantically run between bedroom and closet.
You have a house now, all your own.
And two dogs, all your own.

You’re not married,
but you were never one for

emotionless paperwork.
You have five children,
just like your mother.
And you can make people laugh,
just like your father.
You have green eyes of the emerald isle,
yet the life behind them is from a different place.

Who were You?
What names were you called by?
What were your hopes, dreams,
Regrets?
What drove you?
Who were you?

I see the Annie in the pictures with the pink.

I see the Anne in green.
I see the wife in white,
and the mother in red.

But who were you?

I know the stories.

Do you see yourself in me?
Were you, too, the square whose that hurts itself
moving like a circle?

You have seen me as I was, am, and will be.
But who were you?
Is Annie gone never to return?
Will I see her on the street and not recognize her?
Would I like her?
Would she like me?

love me?

When were you divided?
The woman sawed in half,
The hopeless housewife,
The interrogator,
The stubborn independent,

The befriender.

Who were you?

So furiously standing alone,

Yet
So desperately wishing someone would hold you,
stroke your hair, and tell you it would get better.

I see myself in you.
I love you, with my voice, my soul.
You still wear that nightgown,
but you have long since shed that skin.

(Published in the Matrix Feminist Literary Magazine 2009)

I Shall Urinate in the Men’s Bathroom!

I shall urinate in the men’s bathroom!
I shall read Maxim magazine,
I shall reclaim colors like blue and black,
and maybe even green.

I will drink beer while watching football,
play Halo 3 with SK3W,
confess to peers the worst of sins,
while watching pornography too.

I will shout the obscenest of words,
like VAGINA and UTERUS,
CLITORIS, TITTIES, and PERIODS,
though I’m sure there’s some that I missed.

Hunting, fishing, biking, hiking,
all of these I claim.
I shall urinate in the men’s bathroom!
I will make everything the same.

(Winner of the 2009 Toyon and Sherry Debrowski Prize for Best Feminist Multi-Genre Fiction)

Goodbye: Khoda Hafez

It was about seven o’clock in the morning in the year 1993 when my mother decided to sit me down at the faded yellow picnic table that we used as a dinning room table. I remember sitting there on the hard wood chair and giggling softly as the chair rocked back and forth due to its shorter front leg. I continued to giggle my high pitched six year old giggle until my mom reached across the vast table and grabbed my tiny hands with hers. She stared hard at me with her emerald.

“Allia, it’s time for you to pay attention. You have to listen now. I need you to go to your room and pack up as much stuff as you can into your little Sleeping Beauty backpack.”

“But where are we going mom?”

“We’re going to see Miggie and Papa in Ohio.”

“Oh! Yay!”

After hearing the news I hurriedly ran to my room and began packing as many toys as I could fit into my little pink backpack. Polly Pockets, Littlest Pet Shop, Barbies, all my toys were crammed into my little backpack. After attempting to zip it up, my mom came into my room to check on my progress. My mother was silent. She delicately pulled out all my toys and replaced the empty void with my rainbow colored clothes.

“But Mommy, why can’t I bring my toys?”

“Sweetheart, we can only take what you can fit in your backpack.”

“But Mommy, I can’t leave them behind. They’re my friends.”

“I’m sorry, Sweetie, but we have to leave them behind.”

My little lip pouted out, expressing my stubbornness, and I crossed my tiny arms tightly across my chest. My mother looked at me and smiled softly, kissed me on my cheek, and left the room.

My dad came home at around five that night, much earlier then normal. He didn’t say a word. He just looked at my mother and told her that it was time to leave. My mother helped me put on my black wool coat and my peacock patterned shawl. I never minded wearing my big girl coat and pretty shawl. I had always enjoyed playing dress up.

We walked out of the front door of the apartment and the lock clicked louder then normal. We walked down the darkly lit hallway that smelled of saffron that leaked out from the other apartments. Out on the cool night street the taxis zoomed by, a blur of yellow. A small white van sputtered and jerked to a stop in front of us. The door slid open to expose the riders inside. Aunts, uncles, grandma, everybody in my family were there and I was temporarily blinded by all their glimmering white smiles.

After 15 minutes of silent driving we arrived at the Iranian International Airport. My father climbed out of the van and began unloading our luggage. His brown skin glistened with sweat and his black hair clung tightly to his forehead. I stepped out of the van onto the yellow curb alongside my family. I began to be covered in loving kisses and soft salty tears as I told my family “Bye, Bye”. I told them that they should not cry over my goodbye. “Don’t cry. You’ll see me again.” I told them. After a few minutes they began to lumber back into the white sputtering van, occasionally turning around to stare back at me with tear filled eyes.

I turned my tiny body around and faced solid steel double doors. Though the doors were made of steel they were terribly faded and looked as if they would fall apart at the slightest touch. Above the doors was a rusted sign bolted to the wall. To Gangway. My neck craned upward as I stared at my father through my brown almond eyes. He let out a heavy sigh and pushed open the doors. There was a long hallway illuminated a sickly yellow. The linoleum at my feet was worn and emitted no reflection of the light above, giving the hallway an even more lifeless appearance. On both sides of the hallway, acting as its walls, was bulletproof glass held together by steel and bolts. I timidly began to walk along side my father occasionally tripping over my own feet in the attempt to keep up with his. My mother glided quietly behind us with her green hooded head staring at her feet, occasionally whimpering. We began to walk down the gangway.

Time stopped.

Slowly, as I peeked through my peacock colored shawl, I saw what these hideous glass walls were trying to keep out. They were people. People as far as my tiny vision could see. They were like a sea of black and brown moving and churning preparing for the storm. Surrounded by the black sea, I saw the ivory faces of these dark ghosts. An old lady with sunken eyes had white hair that pierced out from under her shawl. Her mouth consisted of pink gums and no more then 7 yellow teeth. She kept screeching at us. They were all screaming for us to take them or help them to get out. I was so scared. My knees began to give out on me and my mouth grew dry. The tears stretched down my face in continual streams. My grip grew tight on my father’s hand. Don’t let me go, please don’t let me go. My vision began to fade and slowly blurred and my grip on my father’s hand began to loosen. Oh no! No I don’t want to be left here. Please no!

I faded into darkness.

When I awoke I was on a plane flying over the Atlantic Ocean. I sat by the aisle and my mom sat hunched over by the window. I could not see her face but I could see the wet tear stains on her lap. She was sobbing terribly. I had loved Iran and at that time, I did not understand why we had left. The revolution had come, the Shah was overthrown, and Americans were no longer safe there. At that moment I understood why my mother was crying so hard. My goodbye that I had told my family was permanent. I would never see them again.

The mother cries. The daughter understands.

(Winner of the 2008 Toyon and Sherry Debrowski Prize for Best Feminist Multi-Genre Fiction)

The Frog and the Banshee

a-sadeghipour-banshee

Engineered energy drinks spilled their sticky acidic citrus onto the ground. The inhalation of the citric fumes caused purple cataracts of chemical intoxication to form across the pupils of the people. The mouths of the crowd unhinged viperous as a cacophony of cheers swirled above their, heads accumulating into a foreboding fog. The billowed haze consumed the energy of the crowd as it formed it’s own teeth and claws. The long talons reached into its own black mass and tore open the void exposing the glowing red eyes of the beast. On stage, swirling smoke took the form of a man. The red eyed beast met his gaze and the man consumed the wretched creature. It soon flowed through his atria and capillaries like a blazing back draft. His body boiled and bloated. Eyes bulging, skin amphibious, his gullet expanded as he released his guttural command, “Abrocken!”

Drumsticks met the tight skin of its beaten mistress as a train spewing smoke and flames emerged and plunged through the crowd. The frog man smiled as maggots and saliva poured out of his mouth, forming a festering pool at his webbed feet. Hoping over to a cage bound in barbed wire and bits of flesh, the frog man’s tongue wrapped around the padlock and with a quick flick released the banshee. A piercing scream filled the theater as the banshee emerged, violet eyes blazing with it’s talisman of power. Raising the six-stringed demon into the air, it screeched and an explosion of chords and pitches hit the crowd like a tidal wave as a young boy hit the cement floor. The boy panicked as boots bombarded his body. Terror flashed across his face as he succumbed to the mob. Blood oozed from his nose as his left eye bulged purple. A panicked father flailed his arms as he tried desperately to dig through the crowd. The frog inhaled deeply preparing for the climactic howl when the ruckus caught his attention. “Hey what the fuck? Are you stupid or something? Pick his ass up!” Like a marionette, the boy was lifted by his limbs and passed over the tops of the crowd onto the stage. The frog wrapped his webbed hands around the bloodied boy grinning a salavic smile, “Sorry kid. These people are fucking animals.”

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(Originally submitted to The Destroyer Magazine)

Afrite and Troll

He had hoped to die, but this was not the place. He was too old, exhausted, defeated, hopeless, whichever word, he was ending. He journeyed from the land of fire and desert, the land of the Arians, north, hoping to lie down embraced in a blanket of ice. He had begun to realize, however, that he would not make it. Those that had worshiped him died long ago and the power that he had once had was dwindling. He would not make it to the land of ice.

His footsteps left behind small burnt patches of terrain. The horizon was magnificent and slashed with stratus clouds painted pink and orange. The mountains were tattooed by moss and fog, white-tipped. It was beautiful and he cried. Vulcan tears dripped scorching the wild grass causing them to hiss and curl back. His body relaxed into the tickling grasses and ferns burning them as he descended. His long spiraled horns rested on the rocks. As his eyes began closing, diamonds of lights flickered, and he awakened to see a great creature approaching. Patches of ice covered its vegetatious body glistening like armor, and its two heads stretched high above its shoulders. It had hominid like features and met his glowing combustive eyes. It approached him, but he could no longer move. His body had already begun to shut down. The great creature knelt down looking into his now smothering eyes and sat beside him.

They watched the sunrise stretch across the sky. The fire beast spoke, “The sun is made of my ancestors created long before my existence. Stareh the humans call them. I may join them. Or I may join the flames within this great planet. I know not. I may become dirt, but, then, what will be my purpose?”

“Dirt never questions its purpose. Quell your curiosity in knowing that you will receive your answer very soon. Even if you will not remember it. Free yourself of worry to witness this last gift. Sunrise,” Shifting, the patches of ice on its body glistened.

“Did you reign with the sentient ones? The humans. Did they view you as a god?”

“No. Though we have gods, we are often seen as lumbering beasts. Often hunted and greatly feared.”

“Mine as well. We were called lesser beings. Beasts. We were the nightmares told to children; warnings to the wayward. What do they call you in their language?”

Troll. And you?”

Afrite,” steam rose from its nostrils,I am going to pass soon.

“I will remember your death. We have shared an experience together, we similar beings. We are equals,” the troll’s second head kissed the afrite’s horn singeing its moss covered lips. The afrite sighed and extinguished melting the ice and vegetation around its body. The troll leaned into the puddle of water and whispered ripples. As it walked into the rising sun, the troll’s armor glistened as grass began mending the scorched patches of earth.

(Originally submitted to the Iceland Writers Retreat Competition 2015)