Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thoughts from an Iranian Grandmother

I will plead yes! when I mean no. My lipstick might match my shoes: neutral. My hair will match my voice: veiled. Someday I will laugh as he unfastens the sticky-tape and lets his diapers fall. He is 82. Years, not days. One day I will tell him NO. But that day, like the others, might not ever come. My words live through kitchen utensils: the wooden-chop voices my complaints. He stopped hearing long ago. There is car outside, it is waiting for me. I must buy the cantaloupes before they are all snatched--he likes them honey-sweet and supple, milky like licks from a cow’s broad tongue. I am not going to regret the day I married you because that would mean I would then regret each day afterwards that I did not divorce you, and my life is not a chain of “what-ifs.” Still, I wear deep tunnels in my tongue where the curse words go, when I long to set them free. It is too late. Somewhere, the skies are a pale blue like dreams that make you squint and then the sun a hole in the sky that shifts, from one sidewalk to another.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The summer after he turned 83 my grandfather had three women visit him throughout the week. The first, Maria, stood tall and sturdy with a long nose and a uni-brow. She was from Pakistan and often spoke of the warm weather that smelled sweetly of boiled nectarines and her parakeet--that I imagined, secretly--resembled her in more ways than one--in more ways than their shared tendency to explode into chatter. The second visitor was Sima. She always dressed in bright, cotton shirts and jeans tight around the thigh. She always dressed and smelled nicely, and stopped before and after her visits to talk to me as I walked through the kitchen in search of something to eat. The third visitor was Monica and I most enjoyed the way she spoke, because she had lived in Buenos Aires for most of her life and therefore spoke in a wandering way, as if her words were finished before she had thought them up, and longed to race to the door and leave. Thankfully, Monica herself was not that way because she stayed for the longest out of the three.
My dear grandfather, milky-breasted and quiet, prickly chin hairs give him away, digging into my chin as we try to cheek-kiss before bedtime, I will lead him to his bedroom, balancing a bowlful of cheerios and a glass of red wine, the smells swirl together and are warm and fermenting. I trace the bulge of his belly in my mind. He is fading away. It’s funny and amusing how we slip from one mold to another. Before, he flaunted a crispy orange tan and pastel polos. He ate lunches on the patio next to the palm trees, with the sun white-hot. Now he sits in his room, the humidity pours from the carpets and lingers above his shoulders, scooting in to his nostrils and encouraging my head hairs to uncurl in frizzy contemplation. My dear grandfather, you are so weak now, nodding through dinner because Parkinson’s secured its hold, and grease drips into your mustache and slinks its way on your knees. I watch you smile, teeth broken, waiting for sleep. You fall asleep with a lamb chop in one hand.

Small, Crooked Things

I ate breakfast with my grandparents today. My grandmother sat beside me with two halves of whole wheat pita and an oily lump of cheese. She looked at me in between bites while my grandfather nodded through his coffee from across the table, his nose squished like an arrow pointing down drawing attention to his gut, pale and sagging, barely concealed by the thin shirt. My grandfather struggled to remember the name of a movie he watched four years ago and really enjoyed. For about eight minutes they argued about the main actor in the film.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The sky is flat and blue
I feel very hot in my wool sweater
I feel like Iran
The country, not the boy
I feel hot and dry
My tongue is sobbing in my mouth
It is wet with old
I look out of my window and see
Stabs of green and pricks of yellow
All over, spread everywhere
So beautiful. And I

miss you.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Five people in my living room:
Short, asian
Tall, asian
Chubby, asian
Pretty, asian
Skinny, white
Pitching water bottles at one another
Where their balls sag
Except for the fourth one
(pretty, asian)
Who sits
Hand planted near her vagina
Weeping after laughing
She is so pink her panty line might explode
I am
the only one who now can see

past the swelling, tangerine sunrise
And the scatter of chubby stars, to where
My father slumps, easing sleep from his eyes
With knuckles, rough and pink, while my mother
Hums a warm, liquid tune of a long-lost life.

My tree, revisited

no attachments: all things go
Fi ve cle an chunks
across the lawn
one morning on my way
Hot-pink summers provide
Tan-crisp faces
Pockets scratchy with sand
and heart-biting, igniting images
of boys in bookstores, in buses
over novels with jagged names

These darlings invite
lavender-pink daydreams
to feed the fat vacancies.
We imagine pathsm(cr)ashing
Love-sparks will zip free
So we, too, can leap

The heart-hack of beautiful boys
Who feign interest just to prove they can
Seduce us into a face-slam
With a pole,
Or an ouch- slip into a

While rubbing raw bruises
And shrugging off wormy
dirt clods,
We will glance at them--strong--a phoenix
born from the ashes of heart-burn

And think:
Did the lumps in our throats betray our careless expressions?
I remember
Long, liquid afternoons inside my grandparents'
Shiraz home. My sisters and I
Skipped the spiral staircase, while my grandfather, small and round,
Wob-bled behind. And those slow nights of potato salad on hot bread:
I ripped out doughy middles and formed heaps on my plate. Then my grand-mother
glided past, warning me to
Feed the cats and feel the hunger
That poked their insides blue.
I am nothing
Without photos of my mother, my father
My parents
At the wedding my mother's hair curtseyed
My father still wore his hair
Proud and black and frosting-thick
With their thumbs they scooped up cake
But fed promises. Years later,
My mother
Is spinning away and
Unwinding. There are bits of her
In the laundry room, near the plastic baskets and the dirty bras,
Like mango holders. There are bits of her roaming with the house flies,
From one watermelon chunk to another.
And there are bits of her shivering in the May breeze
That smells like tulips and warm
pool water.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My Tree

My tree--the one,
With leaves that dripped
Fresh shade. I found in
Five clean chunks across the lawn
This morning on my way
Outside. Its gold-hue
Hips still burned so

Poem written as I slipped into sleep...

I dream bright, tangerine dreams.
The inside hollowed out,
Crammed with French fries and
A sticky stoop of licorice string. I once roamed
Those smooth-water streets, where children drifted cool and quiet. They wore
Entire shells in their hair, while twigs danced from their ankles. I am slowly
Spinning away and sinking down. There are entire light bulbs dedicated to the hope
That we can see without our eyes alone.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

If one designer inspired me to dream, it was you, Alexander McQueen

I was seated at the coffee table
It was a clean, February morning
Cold yet inviting. The sky
flat and blue.
I peeled my first orange of the day
The smell sang citrus

My phone quivered on the table
I received the new, and learned
They discovered you in a London apartment
Your London apartment.
I was just

about to finish peeling my orange.
There are still bits of it stuck to the smooth
Insides of my fingernails.
I can smell you, now, wherever I
Go. You smell like oranges. I know this now,
I didn’t know it before.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010



Always, I am muddied by memories:
My father unfolding on top his bed
My mother--sweet-sour lemon-candy--
Rising from morning without her smile.

There are caramel-crackling images:
My two sisters twirling, amid a whirl
Of gushing-glitter noise. There are cloud dusts
On their heads, dripping deep into their eyes.
I am the only one who now can see

past the swelling, tangerine sunrise
And the scatter of chubby stars, to where
my father slumps, easing sleep from his eyes
With knuckles, rough and pink, while my mother
Hums a warm, liquid tune of a long-lost life.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Being young will never get old
So forget all those lies that you’ve been
Suck in the sun
Then exchange numbers with the

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Are you able, girl?

That girl wears the clam between her legs
She boasts no-underwear
Stretching her liquid limbs to the sky
Of chirping fluorescence
Overhead, she is like a shaky China doll
Of cucumber fingers
So pale and so cold
That you mistook them for ice-cube-kisses beneath
The table
Are you able, girl?
To imagine yourself without a boy
Sucking on your hips with his finger-
He holds on tight, for the ride
It feels so good to be inside
Are you able, girl?
I have gone so far for you
That my spine croaks a sunset tune
Cloud-wisps color my hair white, then blue
And rainstorms stud my lashes with dew

I have gone so far but I still must go
Swallowing tulips, lightning, and fields of snow
Along with hearts of trees and the essence of leaves
Before they murmur to the floor

I have gone so far for you
That my knees and my feet are through
They spit and they screech at you
Their words boil and brown a bloody stew

The cypress trees are tall and blue like you
Their limbs stretch towards the tangerine sun
Together they whisper words I know well
That many moons will give birth before I am done

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sticky summers provide
the usual souvenirs:
Tan, crisp faces
pockets scratchy with sand
and countless heart-biting, igniting images
of boys in bookstores and in buses
stooped over novels with jagged names
lips sparkling with pricks of blood.

These darling invite lavender-pink dreams
to feed the fat vacancies between our thoughts and
tirelessly, we imagine when our paths might crash
arousing love-sparks to gallop free
so we, too, might

Soon we will experience
the slap-sting of beautiful boys
who feign interest just to prove they can
seduce us into a face-slam
with a pole,
or an ouch-slip into a ditch.
While rubbing our bruises
and brushing off wormy dirt clods,
We will glance at him, suddenly strong, a phoenix born from the ashes of heart-burn

And think:
Did the lumps in our throats betray our careless expressions?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

You drive me nuts--
almonds, cashews, pecans
prickly with salt
the Planters Premium kind
that look better than they taste
and lie about the ZERO trans fat
(in the shower, I can no longer count my
You forced the pecans onto my palms.
I thought they looked like dead
My grandmother
wears her hips
like cantaloupes
her breasts droop:
swelling, full-buttomed eggplants.
Her thighs are large, liquid and
smooth. But her fingers are crooked and her knees
She leans forward to
ease my grandfather out of his seat,
grapefruit-gut and all.
He distributes
silky, slippery burps
that smell of dinner's stringy
roast beef. Sometimes, my grandmother
embraces a frown. She scoots wrinkles into her forehead
and her eyebrows meet halfway.
A moment.

Then that smile returns.
Sour cheeries.