The Azizam Poems

the trembling

that day in iran you weighed
a honeydew’s weight when
you first took thick milk from
your dune-gold
mother, purblind with
sucking, your
angerless fists and voluptuous
kicking, the
beauty of hunger, the
trembling

 

 

 

love, this liquid verb

love, this liquid verb, uttered
even in your absence and by
heavy sleep followed was swallowed
by the bed; self-mastered, un-
beheld i
slept (in) 
(memory’s soft-lit cinema) 
(the domed roof: skull) where
here before we
showed you naked on
our screen, brown-
breasted, black-
haired, mag-
nificent, ob-
scene; me
old as a drought: i had been pure
thirst for the river between
your legs, it thick
as clear blood where
often i lapt it, calf-blind, teaching
you spasm. your cats
(so black they) 
(seemed made of your) 
(hair)
surely miss that
baffling moisture.

 

 

 

 

things have been lost

things have been lost since 
before things worth having existed, 
a steady progression of the taken and mislaid
by geometric increment increased, the vast
lost-listed, the virtually
unmade, 
until the ratio of them to us is many many over one, 
until it’s us, now, the glum unsearched-for missing
while the
so-called Lost are safely amassed at Lost’s home, 
and cosseted, in yearned-for-world of
wallets, keys, old friends, gold pens 
and those ghost-gifted poems we awoke and
failed to scribble down, now mouthed
by lovers gone and children flushed or
drowned

 

 

 

brentano strasse in winter

1.
the snow burns gently on colder stone. there’s
black wet in patterns on the tarmac where
some pipes under-cross the
road. the
snow burns bleakly and the valley evokes in storm
an open grave of quick-limed forms. 
The bleaching snow covers 
half-a dozen square miles of
stacked-up black-edged corners, the chimney-tops
steaming like coffee cups, the
sugared fingers of trees 
imploring. the snow
burns down in winnowed flumes like
old paint flaking off a
Reich moon.

2.
the unofficial state birds of Berlin, pigeons, 
Refuseniks of the sky, those
flying gym-shoes, weep 
around their bits of
heat, sit like dirt-of-sleep wedged
in the corners of each of every building’s
heavy-lidded, iron-bracketed
eyes. Azizam’s cats 
bound the brown carpet in 
quadrants, use inhuman reflex to eschew affection like
the proffered hand’s uncouth and
spring upon sills to gloat the
dizzy views. From behind the
glassed-out pigeon pies, while
two bezirks (of cloud and ground) 
collide, the cats are teeth-chattering mad
at the hampering glass that
excludes warm bird but leaks
cruel North
inside. The cat I try to comfort
bites

3.
killing time in a Winter Storm is my reward
for an almost-adolescent dedication to that 
old rhetorical formula of
punctuating a statement with a
twice-slammed door (far less impressive in) 
(the summer months); (yet infinitely regretted in) 
(the cold)

 

 

 

if aging

if aging is the process of growing
less and less forgivable we
still have over half
our redemptions coming. how
will you use yours? like seeds
or matches? with
self-deprecating laughter or a face as unreadable as
Finnegans Wake in Braille? atoning
for the laudable sin of
another ten years of
unmastered French or
in apology
to children you raised so wrong they each
wrote books about it? anyway
my redemptions i use, immemorially, growing
backwards out of failed loves like
a chronic embryo ever-coming
full term in
wrong mothers. in fact today i fear i’ll
use your last i forgive you being like this
born

 

 

 

the mapmaker

ironically the
mapmaker has lost himself. the stars
swarm shining in the unfamiliar politic
of an improved 
zodiac, the compass pin
spins irresponsibly and moss
grows on
all sides of the oak now. before he was even human
he was able to locate the
insignificant speck of
an egg on the
vast red continent of
the womb. how could he now be
so lost? his hunger
decorates the dark woods with
a fire he puts
rabbit on, nostalgic for the days
he petted them. twigs in the fire
curl like atomic tracks. the forest
feels abandoned. Fall roams through, a
mute landlord inspecting
property at night.

 

 

Kant Street Chronicle

1.
Azizam perhaps 
you don’t remember but i
despite my reputation as the forgetter of all
such things recall the dinner
i prepared that night on
Kant str., chicken and
peanuts and peas and
rice; suzanne by
leonard cohen; chet baker and
that short black (polka-dotted?) 
meet-your-maker dress you sat in
cross-legged with the hot
plate on your lap; peculiar you
(you don’t remember but it’s true) did
the strangest thing the
moments after treating me to 
virginity’s sweet
red pearl and curry 
scent and singing tandem
breathlessness: you
played dead my dear (or unborn) in that
window-level bed, eyes
jammed shut and lips compressed
in a sarcophagal smile so rich but
sick with innocent shame and Iranian
ironies and silly
adolescence and even
blame.
i must admit
i was mad when you did it
choosing that milestone to play a silly
prank (arms crossed) 
(over your bulging breasts) 
(and stiff) 
(as a plank). but now i’m grown, this
older me (wizened-if-wrinkle) 
(free) thinks back
on your morbid act and
almost dreams of 
crying! not
for sorrow but 
intimidated
admiration, or
even baffled pride that you picked my patience, in a
world of men, for 
trying. neither you nor i 
could see the aptness of your 
teenage death vignette at
the time; the
rightness of the
pantomime. i
should have played it out with you, two 
of us sprawled there
corpse-like, suppressing giggles, 
drenched in 
love’s great awful effort, glimmering 
with sweat, too
busy with this cryptic act to
bother with
regret.

2.
Berlin is a gray-green map, a
topographic model of one corner of
the consciousness, the
territory of moody disillusion we
navigate with the joy and
energy of an interrupted winter
nap. The map’s
a million times the size of the
stamp-sized zone of mind it
cartographs. To study it on foot
I crossed each neighborhood with
huffing diligence & sought
to understand the structure of my own vast
emptiness. I came across
weird objects in my
path. I counted off the distances with 
other restless immigrants & animals co-
navigating ashed kilometers of 
Hope & Selfishness. And every night
restored myself to 
the kitchen in Kant str. To
eat a fish &
rest, or
lift your million’d, vinyl’d, incensed
hair & leave 
my star-blue mark of 
ego on
your neck.

3.
good thing Rafaella got work on the
graveyard shift. I’d lift you towards a
shaking climax around the time each night she’d
petition her superiors for a
cigaretten break with
pungent diffidence, although
she didn’t smoke but
took her minutes to
pace the limits of the
square of light outside the 
ER entrance for the night’s own
un-medicated air, and take her chary
look along that
long black street in Moabit plus
occasional attempts
at a pay-phone call
to home; you and i
just laying there, cursing
if the ring had come
precisely at
love’s moment.