Is France getting more and more familiar with me
or has Paris been transported to another country
that even the Seine is deceiving me as a black sea?
This little black fish
 no longer bites the bait you threw in my heart
the wind has hurriedly driven north
the seaside gives no water
and the sea gives no wave
and the rain the probable rain
no longer rains down on my hair like your slender fingers
so if in Paris
or another country in Paris
you ever saw me arm in arm of another girl
don’t think I’m cheating you

Ali Abdolrezaei (translated from the Persian by Abol Froushan)


Paradise is passing the pavements
London has taken off its woolens
and the rain 
having forsaken us has come back
so I took my umbrella out of the boot
to reach a restaurant at grandmother’s house
which turned her car into a homing pigeon
pulled over in the midst of the highway
before having laid the table,
or laid the bed
she was into spoons and knives and multiple forks
me into eating with my hands
like an apron put on before breakfast
she mothered me 
with a condom she brought me as a gift
and after she played love with me
a lorry had run into her car
accidentally - 
no transgression or pain involved
she was screaming for no reason
I was merely putting my umbrella 
back in her boot

Ali Abdolrezaei (translated from the Persian by Abol Froushan)

Magic Lantern

My mind is at ease
Now go be happy
You wanted enough money
to pull your nose up a tad
implants to raise your cheeks
and to set eyes on a house 
all of your own
now you got it
go enjoy the now of it
and have some fun
If you like we’ll go to Venice 
in the next couple o’ weeks
drop in on Madrid
purchase a v-nice lingerie from Paris
and what fun would it be - on a private plane to yap away
order what your crinkled heart might ever want
I have left a blank page too
so wish no matter what from this genie
you can ask of this magic lantern
and in the space of the next two pages if you wish
behind the house I bought you in the lines above
I’ll build a swimming pool with a sauna
Then we can get out of water like vapour
you no longer nag at me for the money I have not
shuffle me not with a thousand dog gone expletives
and let me
write my own story too.

Ali Abdolrezaei (translated from the Persian by Abol Froushan)

With the FairiesOff with the fairies” mime 
his stock response,
next thing you know
she’s wandering the streets 
the worse for wear, 
nudge – wink, 
in underclothes.
Well that’s the storyboard
they consummate.
What price the matriarch 
you call to mind: 
wallpaper, curtains, furniture 
replaced near spanking new; 
a paint brush close to hand 
and pot of brilliant white 
for touching up 
her spotless widowhood? 
The son is blunt 
with rage: “End of the day 
she doesn’t know 
my bloody name.” 
Soon she is diagnosed, 
concealed from view. 
He never visits, come 
what may. Alive 
or dead, house sold to pay
her dues, she’s with 
the fairies either way. 

Peter Branson

The Film You Deserve

Dreaming up the plots of movies,
 I cast you as private eye
 in a cozy involving friendly
 if sinister gangland-types,

an abandoned theater, a café
 owned by a blind man, a pair
 of glasses left at a table
 by a man who turned up murdered

in a bloodless but decisive way.
 You’re not amused. You’d prefer
 to play a sexual carnivore
 in some French New Wave production

from the late Fifties, the role
 Anna Karina perfected
 so naturally she learned only years
 later what havoc she’d wrought.

I lack the production company
 to generate the film you deserve
 so you’ll have to accept the plot
 I recount, the café owner

stroking your hair as you weep
 over the dead man’s glasses
 and vow to nail his killer.
 Of course the blind man did it,

and the audience spots the clues
 before you do. But since you’re blonde,
 athletic, and witty, even
 the cops forgive you for helping

the killer escape to Florida
 where after an arduous bus trip
 dear friends treat him as family.
 You can play a blonde, can’t you?

Yes, the German tanks that rumbled
 over your grandmother’s village
 featured handsome curly blond
 drivers of unspeakable cruelty;

but that’s a different movie,
 and when you play your grandmother
 you can wear your natural dark hair
 retouched a sentimental gray.

William Doreski

The City

The creature gave birth to a city.
It pulled away the caul,
leaving its offspring in the valley.
The city grew and grew,
soon there was malevolence in its streets.
The inhabitants were riotous,
unruly, fighting amongst each other.
The creature would return,
pick out the bad elements
and throw them away.
Then it would leave,
travelling to the far side of the valley.
The city grew stronger,
with villages springing up around it.
A King appeared in one of the villages,
declaring himself master over the city.
All followed him
as he travelled far and wide,
making war on other towns in other valleys.
The creature returned,
urging caution on the King and his wars.
But the King carried on,
refusing to listen.
He conquered lands upon lands,
never satisfied.
The villagers exclaimed,he must stop and leave us to enjoy peace.’
The King did not stop,
until someone put a knife in him.
The creature returned,
taking the city in its arms,
mourning its child.
Then it moved away to another valley.

Jethro Dykes

the loneliness of a tv playing in an unfurnished room
the circle of friends getting smaller 
and the days harder and harder to remember
waking up at the same time
eating at approximately the same time (sometimes not eating)
no turning back no possible improvement
and then only this:
the safety of precisely calibrated objects
the satisfaction of the cube that perfectly fits its frame
the familiar stimuli of one’s own laboratory
the pleasure as I taste new foods
the way the dishes squeak washed clean in hot water
the way I clone voices and make them mine
saying “yeah” with my mouth full
and suddenly the urge to be crushed by something huge 
no side effects
nothing essential left behind 

Gabi Eftimie (translated from the Romanian by Adam J. Sorkin and the poet)

Deep in furrow of no hope,
clad in hole-soled shoes,  
torn cotton sweater, scratchy wool dress,
she stumbles towards Charles River bridge.
Rotten fish smell rises from river water,
snake into her nostrils,
cold river breeze caresses her skin.
She plunges into icy Charles River,
bobs to surface a time or two
until soaked clothes
draw air from lungs, 
energy from limbs.
She waits for icy water
to wash her new and clean.

Margaret Fieland

Cool Cat

 The quarterback’s brother disappeared into the river –
 while being pursued by police, the radio said. I return
 home with snow in my shoes. No one’s there but you, and
 you were named for a serial killer. You look at me as a
 diamond merchant might, or the Milky Way, or a suspicious
 early-morning fire.

Howie Good

Border Town near the Sea

The village was spent 
potassium nitrate, 
carbon and sulfur—
dust and ash.

The priest broke bottles of champaign
upon unhinged doorways
and the falling shards 
created the only music.

A stranger entered 
rigor mortis,
his backbone exposed
to the crystalline air.

A dog sniffed 
letters carved in tombstones,
the fresh turned sod,
the meaty bone near the surface.

The ocean stared through
the broken window 
of a painted landscape,
patiently waited 
for its turn to rise.

Kenneth Gurney

the flesh 

the flesh wrapped around the homely bone
defiles the whole house the skeleton is
with star-burst decay and suns
fading away tried as mourning

it deliberately smells like dead men
with all their apathetic malice and massive
absence; living is a charmless cancer
heart, a fish darting under the flesh
called life and consummate
anxiety, it swims in time
and the tired sexuality

that defiles time. by definition
man is the animal
that does not deserve to live;
and time is a channel in him
under his cautious skin
where anxious fish swim

David McLean

A Breath Shy 
Things are pretty lousy for a calendar girl,
the boys just dive right off the cars
and splash into the street.Tom Waits
I see the parade of boys
plunging from silver skyscrapers 
dropping down stories
like so many bad pick-up lines
until bodies collide with the street
draped in January suicide 
weather and you.
Knuckles twist crumpled
against faces on the avenue
your name tattooed on index fingers
where suitors hope to tell you how to be.
Diamonds fat as spoons
on ring fingers of prostrate boys,        
a breath shy of asking you.

Dave Malone

To Rescue The Night From A Cheap Hotel

hush her name was on the windowsill in desperation so he found he
could not just knife his just desire just out of prison and back on the
street to rescue the night from a cheap motel shut in he said I know
about said soul she said I’m a baby back in black the meet was of the
fell she felt the same and so she wouldn’t give him her real name for
the life of me he said sincerely man I don’t know a cat from a wire