Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bad Date Poem

 For: Safiya Martinez

I’ve been going on bad dates lately
for the sake of poetry.
So I can write good poems.
But it hasn’t been going so well.

Maybe I should try going on good dates.

But then you’d be 
reading just

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Kajik the fortune teller owns a Persian restaurant
where the only thing on the menu is kabob.
You have to call and make sure he’s working,
that it’s not too busy, that he has time to see you.                  

I order two skewers, on lavash bread soggy with grease,
a yogurt drink with a hint of mint.
There’s a round belly under his apron, like a story hiding.
And underneath the aged circles of his eyes,
the sweetness of a six year old sucking on a candy
as if the entire Earth rested inside his warm mouth.

He doesn’t say a word to me, but brings coffee after my meal.
The dark, Turkish kind where futures leave footprints.
I drink fast as two wrinkled men play backgammon,
take half bites out of sugar cubes, sip on their tea.

“You’ve almost died twice,” Kajik says, finally sitting,
examining the designs inside the cup.
It’s an excavation of broken bones.
One of the old men snaps to a song in his head,
does a slow shimmy as he wins, knocks knocks on wood.

 “Be careful with the drinks,” he continues,
stops then, “show me your scars.”
I show him the one on my wrist,
from when I was twelve and tried to scare
my older brother by banging hard on his window,
the end of the thin, stitched line, where my vein begins.
“Stay in control or you will find bigger scars,” he adds,
then sighs like his heart is expanding with
my wrongdoings, the thought of death.

He twirls the cup in his fingers,
smiling as he finds more fossils of my future,
“You like to hurry love,” he says, “slowly, slowly.
Love is patience and you’re not there yet.
But yes, you will write something and everyone will read it,
don’t ever stop doing that.”

He takes my hand inside his own,
 “You will be fine,” he says, “ just fine.”
And even though it’s just left over
coffee in a cup, my mouth tastes bitter,
and the flies have begun to circle
the kitchen in the back, I believe him.

When I ask him why he doesn’t do this often he tells me,
“It hurts too much, seeing everything.
And one time I looked into a cup and it was empty.”

When A Color Stops Being A Color, Becomes Something Else Completely

Eighteen facing seats shining empty.
School is cancelled because men have
been hired to beat those wearing green,
to go inside dorm rooms smash computer screens
break beds turn trash bins upside down.
Where does one hide rebellion?

It was imperative to have the leader's vision, and it was
announced then that his vision is this, that he elects Ahmadinejad.

They have been told green is bad.
Green is the color of Allah-hatred.
They only take orders from their superior.
He is a man of good faith,
and so they believe him.
They are promised more money
than they make in a year.
Lunch will also be provided.

The foundations of Islam and the foundations of Shi'ism and Velayat
are such that we have accepted the Velayat. When the Velayat has an opinion,
everyone's opinion must follow, because if it's outside of this there is no place for you. You're an outsider.

In Freedom Square notebooks under protesting arms,
bandanas cover warm mouths, foreheads glisten
from the sweat of remembering. Dark eyes.
Finely tweezed eyebrows. It is a sea of green.

Over 18’s went into one container and the under 18’s into the several other containers. The number of children under the age of 18 was greater. They filled three or four containers of some 25 people in each.

Old women with inflamed ankles the size of fists,
green veils cover their roots as they march, chanting
Even some of the clerics join, white cloth around heads,
hands rising to the air as if in conversation with God.
This is not what Allah meant at all.

For illiterate people and those not able to complete their ballots, you must do
so for them and complete them accordingly (for Ahmadinejad), no matter
who their vote was intended for.

Tear gas. Batons against bones buried
underneath skin. An eye desperate to shut.
It smells green, the air, as if the lentils
have sprouted, the goldfish are swimming
freely in bowls, as if spring has finally come.

Sweets and pastries were offered and the forces were organized into two shifts.

Sidewalks are blood stained,
the air burning like someone’s ashes.
A girl has been shot.
The protestors are running
the other way.

I thought that I was continuing the path of my uncles and our martyrs. All my interest and enthusiasm: to have the integrity for martyrdom.

With chaos comes heartbreaking
slowness, loudness turning quickly into quiet.
The only thing heard,
the shaking of the fig tree leaves,
green, wild with

*All quotes taken from- “Iran: Basij Member Describes Election Abuse” by Linda Hilsum