Poetry Suite by Anis Mojgani
Editor Carrie Seitzinger, Poetry, August 10th, 2015
"I felt a fire slowly walking through me."
Somewhere between the bodies of the dark house
and the scent of the gardens
there was a pack of dogs.
They led me through the woods
and we ended up at a campsite that the stars used when on earth.
The tents were still pitched but all empty and no constellations to be seen,
like they had left in a hurry or like they would be back shortly.
The dogs sniffed at the campfire remains.
I dreamt I looked at the sky. It looked like a swept floor.
I imagined the giant broom. How empty it sounded.
I sat on a log. And the dogs began to howl. And I scratched a stick
through the ashes and then joined them. It felt like we were pouring water
down the sink of an abandoned house. How strange: for something to sound empty
it has to make noise inside something else.
A man in a long red cloak walked out of the trees.
We stopped howling and watched him.
He asked to sit with us. Me and the dogs nodded.
The man told us he was a writer of operas.
He had a practice of writing an opera, then burying it
and digging it up a year later. He said he was constantly
writing operas and burying them. It seemed like every day
a year had passed since one of his operas had been buried so
he was always digging one back up to finish it.
He said the time the operas spent away from him,
the time they spent in the earth, allowed something to happen.
He didn’t know if the things that happened
were him not remembering the notes fully or the earth
actually changing the music he had composed.
He said he felt it didn’t really matter which one it was. The music was the music.
He said he had heard the song our heartboxes were writing to the clouds
and incidentally we were in the same place he had buried an opera last year.
He asked if we would help him dig it up.
I looked at the dogs.
The dogs said nothing.
I dreamt I took a shovel from the man’s outstretched hand
and began lifting the ground with it.
I looked over at him. He was singing softly as I shoveled.
He sounded like the only canary left in the tunnel
and his cloak was red as the blood of the maple tree.
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The blood comes out like a fountain.
And she’s saying to him look it’s like petals and he just nods his head and she scoops up his blood and starts feeding it back into him and it keeps coming back out around the slab of glass she has pushed into his belly and she says I have to leave and he asks where she’s going and she says catching a ride out to the far away lands and then keeps on putting the blood that she won’t call blood into his mouth and he asks where the far away lands are and she just points her thumb behind her and she says but you’ll be fine and this is better for you and believe you me it just would get bad and from where I’m standing this already seems pretty bad for him and he starts to say the same thing but she cuts him off and says don’t be like that and just keep eating these petals and he says but these aren’t petals and she just smiles and looks like she hurts but only a part of her like she had stepped on the wing of a bird but the rest of her looks like a hard building the bird might fly into the hardest and the smoothest metal catching light and it hurts my eyes to look at and she puts some of the man’s blood into his hand lifts the hand to his lips pauses for the briefest turn of the clock and then walks away and he swallows and in the dream he puts his hands to his blood and his hands to his mouth and he swallows the blood back down which comes back out the hole she made and he puts the blood back in his mouth and he keeps on doing this and I wonder how long he has to do this before the blood stops pouring out or he gets tired of tasting its too sweet taste and it’s only when looking at the footsteps that she left in the blood as she walked off do I see how the inside of his red and bright body does maybe kind of look like a flower parting itself and I think oh how I wish to stop eating even though it isn’t me that’s eating but the man and still I think oh how it feels like I have always maybe been eating something hollow and how I wish to pick up and follow for the farther far away lands or for at least as far as I can go before reaching the water that lays in the lake that lays in the place where the sun and the moon sit with the sky on the same plate at the same time and without the need to any longer parcel the light we blindingly shared between the bodies and the gardens.
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The driver didn’t say anything. Only smiled back at me in the mirror.
As we rolled towards the dark mansion, I felt a fire
slowly walking through me. We passed a meadow.
I asked him to stop. Had seen my grandfathers
sleeping in bedsheets strewn across the open field.
I got out the car and approached them.
They were both snoring loudly. On their shoulders
were bats covered in gold hair. I shook the two of them awake.
The bats fluttered just above their bodies like large glowing moths.
My grandfathers pulled silk strings from out the mouths of the bats
and handed me one. I held it tight. The bats rose like kites
and our kite strings unspooled off their tongues.
My grandfathers took the string from my hands
and tied the bats around three stones.
They took my shoes off and brought me
down to a river of green apples.
In the shallow part of the water
they pushed my feet into the cool mud.
Above us the bats had unspooled themselves further.
They looked like three small stars, dancing
a strange dance together. And again I felt a fire
being walked through me.
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And the dream was a dream of the future dreamt in the present to tell me my past.
And the future was a world made of small and little worlds that everyone had of their own.
And this world is all burnt down and walking through the ash
is a man and a lady ghost and the ghost of a dog
and the man sits on a tree stump and the lady ghost tries to hold him
but she can’t touch him and the man tries to touch the lady ghost
but he can’t hold her and he is crying tears because of it
and every tear that hits the ground turns to steam
and the lady ghost is crying ghost tears
which come out as steam
and when they hit the sky they turn to water
so the man is very cold from all the storms the lady ghost is crying
and the lady is very warm from all the heat of the man’s sadness
and the ghost dog is howling because the unseen things she loves
are becoming only patterns of weather
but since she is a ghost there is no sound out loud
but I hear it inside my chest
and it sounds like yelling into a bowl
except the bowl is the size of night
and the yell is deep as the ocean’s floor
and eventually the lady ghost dissolves into the sun of another world
and the ghost dog digs herself into the earth of another one beneath her paws
and the man is surrounded by the steam of so many tears
he is afraid he will kill himself to get away from it and he starts screaming
and in all these worlds everyone is alone on their own planet
and there is no one left on the man’s planet but the man
and I don’t know how I am here or where I am or why he can’t see me
but because he can’t he is screaming
and he stands up and starts clawing at the stump he was sitting on
and the bark flies through the air but the wood also tears off his nails
so the air is also filled with his blood
and he starts clawing at the earth around the stump
and finally uproots the whole thing but he doesn’t stop
he starts tearing up all the earth and tearing all the rocks out and the roots up
and he does this until the whole world is hanging in the air around him
and there is nothing under his feet
and nothing for him to stand on
except for a hole
and that’s when we both see
from where I have been watching him break.
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She peeled the orange and inside it was black. She got up and got another and this one too was black. So she took another and peeled it. Black. All from the same tree that grew in the kitchen. She went outside to one of the trees there and picked a basket of oranges, brought them in and poured them onto the table, they tumbled across the wood like small and bodyless gods. She peeled all of them in her hands, using her fingers to widen the space between skin and flesh. Every one she peeled was black underneath. She pushed them aside and went out to read her book. He watched from the hallway. Saw that the oranges were the same shade as the pages of her book. He had noticed it every night on the bedside, these past few months, the pages darkening as her fingers turned them. Once she was gone, he came into the room and saw there were two oranges left unpeeled. He peeled them both and inside they were suns. The other night at dinner she had yelled at him for burning the meal. But he noticed the charred parts were only on her plate, only on the pieces of meat she was lifting to her mouth. He had said nothing, only apologized, and cleared the table. He set the peeled slices on a saucer with a fork and set the saucer on the small table beside the window, on top a pale blue cloth, the one with the embroidered horses running across it, and with a glass of water, in case she was also thirsty when she returned. He took the basket of black fruit and brought it outside to feed the peacocks their lunch. Outside it smelled like snow was coming to the valley. The hawks circled like the land was a drain. He looked for which direction she had walked off in but nothing had yet fallen from the heavens to drape the earth that might show she had ever even been there, no gentle fabric to mark the absence of her feet.
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Header image couresy of Mojo Wang. To view a gallery of his illustrations, go here.
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Anis Mojgani is a two time National Poetry Slam Champion and winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam. A TEDx Speaker and former resident of the Oregon Literary Arts Writers-in-the-Schools program, Anis has performed at numerous universities, festivals, and venues around the globe, and his work has appeared on HBO, NPR, and in the pages of several journals. Anis is also the author of three poetry collections, all published by Write Bloody Publishing: Songs From Under the River (2013), The Feather Room (2011), and Over the Anvil We Stretch (2008). A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design and originally from New Orleans, Anis currently lives in Austin, TX. Learn more about him: here.