Katayoon Zandvakili's collection of poetry, Deer Table Legs, won the University of Georgia Press Contemporary Poetry Series prize, and the book’s title poem was awarded a Pushcart Prize. Her work has been anthologized—American Poetry: The Next Generation, A World Between: Poems, Short Stories, and Essays by Iranian-Americans, Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora, Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond, The Poetry of Iranian Women, and In Our Own Words: A Generation Defining Itself, Volume 8—and published in journals such as Lumina, caesura, Five Fingers Review, Rattapallax, ArteEast, Private Photo Review, and narrativemagazine.com. Katayoon's My Beautiful Impostor: A Memoir of Persia and Lies, is currently looking for a home with publishers, while she works on a new volume of poetry, Sabzeh, and two scripts. Katayoon is honored to serve on the MFA Advisory Board at St. Mary's College and to be a member of the Iranian-American Writers Association.  Of Persian heritage, she considers herself a global citizen and animal lover.  To view her paintings, please visit www.katayoonart.com


for Paul Wollner

To the marsh grass, she spoke long lines
joining shore to bush
(mulberry, tainted) to water
(living, blue silver gold),
and now this:  rowboat:
dented, grey, hers
in the summer all summer,
saying Hold me, big world
to the water.



Katayoon Zandvakili



what do you call that mist, that late Sunday afternoon light coating the hills and cattle, all
the tops of the trees, and the rush of the highway; what do you call that coat of heaven, the cattle,
heads and stomachs swabbed in that sun mist as they graze heavenly while
looking downward
and you stand there, a body by and by, eyes turned
toward the tunnel of your other life

Beseech Him to furnish you with a love (the sea god Poseidon in bed between us) —
someone you can lean on, someone new who will teach you, bring you back
into the earth and those hips

            but you move away like a fish with jewels
            a centaur's wretched beard
                        tangled, carefree —
            your hand
            raised high and limp
                                    (that we were soft together
                                    when it came down to it,
                                    it was that simple)
                                                                        Spirit:  highway
                                                                        five gnawing white spots in the ocean
                                                                        you see the ghost of him all the time
                                                                        gasoline and knuckles,
                                                                                    a heady bandanna
            we climbed fences made of roses and azaleas

Hansel & Gretel

  went walking with a new, final boy in the woods, where the animals . . . .  In that push and pull, moss and bark, — that myth, which even the therapist later couldn’t unravel, — antlers entangled, and we owed each other.  First, logic scraped and shoved on the tile floor to cast him as brother, the cousin, a friend.  But there were no words, only scores of movies running as one, the sigh of an eternity of chair-arms, and the clap of black-eyed Susans.  Two clowns, an awful pair, clasped together for months in a white cow named Marriage.  My broken swizzle-sticks and his one red ear.  Did I ever imagine my back would be this tired?  So that, even when, like vagabonds in clogs, sitting down to bread and grapes by the river, we stumbled onto the saffron ground of touch, of beds, woke to air that was grace, even then —

Now, we share an emotional cottage where it is always morning.  His shoulders hang white in prairie shirts, purposeful, and from the window upstairs, I catch the old witch out playing in the fields.

So this is my proposal to you, who left only footprints in the snow two years ago:  want to be our fire-keeper, our bear-dog on the rug?  Want some of the gingerbread?  It’s black ink on paper, and the wolves eat it from our hands.

(Published in either The Hawaii Review or The Massachusetts Review)

2012 Katayoon Zandvakili

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