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

 

Madreseh مدرسه

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Salem alehcon madreseh sharood shod
the white shal was never stifling.
familiar dust and the deep smell of roses.
little girls all in rows.
But how can my Baba see me?
How does he know I am his little girl?
The one in blue? The one with the rose?
Nikes! Nikes!
Over Here!
Man enja hastam!
Foreign tongues
speaking to a foreign ear,
the time has gone.
parent’s decision tattooed in my flesh.
Will my memories be a dancer?
Tingling bells with brilliant colors
A beautiful woman
Will she look like me?
Mom won’t stop crying on the plane.

“On Writing in Iran”

(Continuation of “On Writing”)

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The callus had formed a long time ago having never had the opportunity to heal. The pressure of every pen and pencil. The physical presence of every written assignment embedded into a small hard mound on my middle finger. In Iran, my teacher believed that the best way to learn a language and to learn how to write was to copy a text of high spiritual and scholarly merit verbatim. In essence, the only work that could adhere to such a high caliber was the Koran. I learned three things from that experience. First, Farsi. Second, that verbose metaphoric language, as depicted in the Koran, has no place in academia. And third, that I knew that seven seater dinning room table and dimly lit chandelier better than anyone. After getting home in the evening, by a taxi driver who would always drop me off last and honk violently at the gate for my father to come down and pay him, I sat at that dinning room table copying line after line of the Holy Book until 2, sometimes 3, sometimes 4 in the morning before going to bed only to be woken up 4, sometimes 3, sometimes 2 hours later to go to school. At school, the teacher didn’t like me because I asked too many questions and I didn’t understand how. The students didn’t like me because I was the American who thought she was entitled to the answers to her questions. The students who were kind enough to help me would often grow frustrated  and walk away exhausted because after answering the how, I would always ask why. Eventually, I just stopped asking questions until the ninth grade when, back in America, a teacher wrote two fateful words on my paper, “How so?”

jun13480In Iran, I realized that my education was entirely my own and that if I wanted to advance, I would have to do so on my own. I would stay up late doing drills, completing workbooks, copying the Koran a hundred times until I could actually understand the words that I had written and what they meant together. I felt like a manufacturing line producing and fixing components but unable to see the whole. Unable to understand how everything fit together. But this did not teach me how to write, it taught me how to copy. This experience taught me how to regurgitate someone else’s thoughts which I completely disagreed with and even though I understood the how, the rules and grammatical regulations that held the language together, I still did not understand the why. It wasn’t until I was introduced to the why that these dead words on a page began to take on a new meaning. I now understood that I was establishing my foundation. I was establishing a solid set of rules, techniques, and strategies that would allow me to progress forward. Now, I could either build up my foundation further, jump off of it, or tear the whole thing down. The third one seemed less useful, so I decided to go with the first two

(Continued in “On the Writing Process”).