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Photo by Don Rothman

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Poetry by Farnaz Fatemi


        “Blondkopfchen: little blonde girl. Deliciously sweet with a slight citrusy tart finish.”-- Tomatofest seed catalog

The bees are gorging
on this tomato plant
when I'm not looking
--lifting the blossoms

of her anticipation like skirts.
Why don't they just

pool their strength and
make off with the whole thing

like ants?
Days pass, another

pregnant green nub
inside the husk of a spent blossom

proves they've been lurking.
Within a week, tiny orbs

stud the branches.
Like a madam

my chest swells
with thrum and hum

as I inventory all the sex
I've cultivated.

Tomorrow Morning He Will Return, and Move the Plant

        (After Girl With Plant, R. Diebenkorn)

That wall is not just a wall.
It is layers of other walls
fragments of furniture, sketches of plants
painted into this canvas.
Even walls change.
They'll dissolve into goldenrod
and glowing landscape.
Other geometries will inhabit
the space metered out
by all these layers.

It's clear the girl was further to the left.
The painter has moved her, too--
cream upon butter upon tawny upon cream,
three hues of blue becoming violet
as chair becomes window.
These are not pure stabs at color.
They are the looking and looking again
when he treats each new shift as a place to begin,
the palette knives spread more paint
and what he does next
when he looks (again)
at what he is making.

Steel blue smudges under a veneer of gold
confess the painter's role in making the girl.
She took some getting used to being
hunkered into the berth she occupies,
a blue and red mass
in the foreground.
In a squint she appears to flit
around the canvas, in other outlines.

How important
that she seems so solidly here, now
and we can believe in her.

We believe because the painter does--
tracing his own history,
attempts to frame the plant, the window
and the girl--
that each brushstroke brings him
to this moment of solid foreground,
disappearing wall,

Good Weather

What arrives this cloudless morning
is the blue sky of disappointment:
how will I find you.
The sun reveals the abandoned
benches, the empty mailbox.
The sky’s clarity mocks me.
I crawled around my days,
prayed for the offshore clouds to hover,
believed you'd appear tromping through puddles.
Isn't rain the answer?
My skin aches like the parched ground.
The folly of believing
I could retrieve you: if only
there was fog to frizz your hair.
I look for shelter from the splendid sky.


When I am a little girl
I learn to feel the space between
me and my twin sister
as if it is an atomic bond
and we are ions--
the relative connection only shifts
by push and pull. A peel apart
is a chemical surprise. Each split
is innocent, she is never mean
by leaving, but she is easily bored
by the games I spend hours with--
jigsaw puzzles and every variation
on the dictionary game I can think of--
I fall gracefully into the trap of believing
I can keep her here.
I feel unreal when her energy
lessens, when the gleam
of her laughter
casts distracted off our table.
Every time my lover’s attention
drifts, I reach for my sister’s arm
to keep her here, clutch
my reflection in a mirror,
sit it down next to me
and feel the space between us
strangle into the kind of bond
that retains its innocence
and wards off change.
She looks away
and shines her light on the mirror
of our sameness, refracts back
the deviations. When I am five
I don’t know that atomic bonds
are composed of charged particles.
Her body doesn’t leave my side
but she was the first to learn
how to leave, instructing me
on the solitude of loving,
shocking me now that
seeing my own body
next to another is what makes me
feel so alone.

Farnaz Fatemi Photo
Farnaz Fatemi writes both poetry and prose, and is a Lecturer in Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Some of the poems included here were previously published in the journals Ekphrasis and Red Wheelbarrow. “Tomorrow Morning He Will Return, and Move the Plant” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In addition to other magazines and journals, she has had poems included in the anthology, Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing By Women of The Iranian Diaspora, and a prose piece in the forthcoming, Love and Pomegranates: Artists and Wayfarers on Iran. She wrote the libretto for the opera Dreamwalker (composer Lucia Patiño) which was originally produced at the University of Indiana, Bloomington in 1998 and which has been performed in both North and South America. She has an MFA in poetry from Mills College, CA


Winter 2012 Issue

Wallace Baine
Don Rothman
Karen Ackland

Carolyn Burke
Farnaz Fatemi
Gary Young

Clifford Henderson
Micah Perks
Paul Skenazy

Julia Chiapella

Love Letters Project
Wallace Baine
Lauren Crux
Stephanie Golino
Neal Hellman
Cheyenne Street Houck
Erin Johnson
Wincy Lui
Elizabeth McKenzie
Alyssa Young

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