Shabnam Piryaei





grow from the ambiguous murmurs of an instrument so far out of tune.
the way the color grazes its transitions from green to yellow.
the way the sheets climb me, a cub with padded feet. it makes me
trust you, your direction, though I recognize none of my surroundings
beyond their names.






you convinced me that the secret was to explode with light, I stayed hunched
forward and down my forehead resting nearly on the carpet.






Golpar seated in front of a table on which there is electric yellow
shole-zard, a bowl of pomegranate seeds, cubes of watermelon,
pistachios, rice and chickpea cookies, feta cheese, walnuts, bread,
and a bronze dish piled with cucumbers, cherries, mandarins and

She looks inebriated, perhaps even drugged. She has eaten much of the
food, too much, and still she is eating, slowly, her eyes resting
sightlessly on the walls, ceilings and floors.

This is paradise. Welcome to the land of swallows gathering silently
and innocently in puddles of sweet rain. This is the warm comfort of
carpets and beautifully contained fires. There is a cockroach,
somewhere, climbing into someone's shoe. But Golpar is barefoot,
her chin red with pomegranate juice, the sun smiling
ferociously through the gauzy window coverings.






her brother was crushed
between a motorcycle
and a truck
havoc these street crossings
while carrying watermelons
against the summer.

she doesn't dream of other planets.







he sang in his cell, alone and we watched through where the food was
slipped in, where the soldiers sometimes pissed through. I put my
ears there, but the others watched. he had been singing through the
tail of his singing, for three days, they said, for three days until we
arrived, and he didn't stop. he was alone for eight days, for three
days he was singing. I have never received anything that I have needed
so badly. I felt sorry for having legs. I felt sorry that the stars weren't visible in the cities. I wanted to raise his children where there were always orange flowers against high green grasses.

I see now. how this is enough. everything. god is the deep moving
to the thin through me.








in the language of barbaric steak-knives secretly longing to be a
gauze, almost weightless scarf blown away from its owner, never
landing. a wounded clone scaling an old wall covered with orange and yellow ivy. it is autumn,
and evening. the gold light is like a sacred choral composition sung by aching men who
have never felt closer to god.
the cold wind at this height leaves the stones icy and the clone's skin both numb and raw.
we cannot see the top of the wall, nor the bottom.
in every current of air, the leaves shake like hungry birds with their legs tied down. in the
brief windless moments, their morbid stillness is unnerving. when the wind is fiercest,
the small colorful birds appear tortured, flailing, until the hysteria of a few plucks them
from their life-vine, and their dead bodies dance a delicate zig-zagging descent. the
patterned and exploring flight of the butterfly, coupled with the smile of a decapitated
head. the clone, clinging tensely, scales incrementally, higher.






so you vowed to protect her. the sky was an enormous toothless mouth,
a caricature of laughing.







Here they are, all the people you claim to love. The textured
incandescence you said you longed to trace. Open your mouth. She is
asking you a question.


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