Amin Esmaielpour


The atomic Shah in his western business suit
died in exile in a distant Arab land and was replaced
by the nuclear Ayatollah in the black turban.

It was an ugly winter, now four decades past.
Like always, the gray canopy of the oil-pregnant
clouds pour dollars in mega-million measure
into the black turban.  

America, my stomach is upset today.

These days I turn on the TV set. The news, terminal and unloved:
“The life expectancy, down by 600 detained and 256 hanged. Iran.”

These days, I think of names:
a son in exile, a lousy husband,
a non-resident alien turned resident alien,
still alien, a number on paper,
then most of these hours, a deportee.

I got the mail 398 days ago from DHS.
It was an October night, with few bleached clouds
almost sunken in the American murky blue,
like an achromatized, hemophiliac perception,
staring down at my feet, I crash in my cold knees.

No one knows about the Removal Proceedings. She knows.
— Where do I leave a post-it for her?

             “Don’t miss me. I beg you. Move on.
             Where I stand, I can’t see anything anymore.”

I think of in/credible fear without end, pleasure without sur/plus,
coffee without caffeine, ecstasy without drugs,
coca without sugar, milk without fat,
loan without interest, war without sufferers,
panic attacks without escitalopram 20mg,
prescription needed, poems without readers,
a removal without trial, a Revolutionary court?

Back home, it’s retailed as agitprop against His holy institution.
“Agitprop gets no bail.”

Execution without a crime. The crime:
some scribbles between poetry and film. And I am not sorry.

After execution, there is no period but a space —
In the space: Two legs, cropped at the top, in a blue sky. In flight. Fright.
We should have known the Ayatollah has no sense of humor.

I am thinking of the etcetera I am scheduled to see at the IKA terminals.
Counsel, where do you wish to deport number 000** to?
Iran. To the same country he flew from.
Counsel replies.
I hold right to my five-years-now-expired passport.  

The Supreme Facility of fear and insomnia. Sleep is an expectant giraffe.
In my stomach, an old lady in an auburn chador
washes clothes at a hoze. So cold for bare hands at 5 a.m.

A sniper speaks Farsi in the fog. He shoves his muzzle
at the back of my head, “akhare in e’tesab margg ast,” he yells.
How’s here, there’s an assassin
on Wilshire and Normandy across from CVS in K-town?

I drive home. The reporter on PBS comfortably says
“The Middle East is the heaven for his career.”
And it goes to commercials. No mapping out
the sufferings, or the young poet in Evin prison,
once a discounted, a surplus asylum seeker,
who gets distributed around in the cells as a bride,
who cuts his wrists before his un-beautiful death at 5 a.m.

As if America thought the seeker
might expose threat when he runs from one.
Now, Ayatollah’s grandeur is a massive hard-on,
thicker and harder to handle than I understood.

America. Something bad is happening.

I am suffering from political lockjaw.

My mom calls me on Skype.
I have to answer. She gets worried quick.

“How are you?” she says. “I am fine,” I lie.
“Do you eat?” she says. “Of course, I do,” I lie.
“Do you get sleep?” she says. “Plenty,” I lie.
“You don’t want to finish your film after seven years?”
she says. “The ending is getting edited quick,” I say,
overflowing with misery and failure.

I imagine her standing at the bleached sliding gate of Evin prison,
sobbing, me suffocating in my disorder, like some flushed Kleenex.
She forgets to hang up
and I decide to stay for a hard minute,
here in the last place I belong, in my night,
eleven and a half hours different from her day.

I am listening to her morning radio,
the host uncomfortably says, “America pursues nuclear options on Tehran.”
the sound of her knife on the china
slicing cucumber and cheese for her breakfast.

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