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Sheila J. Sadr




What am I to make of the question mark

and blank spaces that I am? Where hijab

does not call to Iran but to Muslim? And

merci is a language traded between two

rebellious cities? What am I to make of the

blank space where only I lay standing? The

television screen does not bear Iranian

against her belly. The models and poets

and teachers do the same. Where is the

world pregnant with me but in Iran? Where

my American does not belong. Where my

American is a divorced father. What is the

Iran? What does it look like? My mother,

pulling me in like an ocean yet still

threatening to drown me? What is an Iran

in an American? Does it exist? Does it

breathe? Does it stand and live on its own?

Has it ever survived?

1  خارجی : [kha-reg-GEE] foreigner, outsider, stranger, wanderer








My body is not a body but is a body but is     not a body but is but is not but is

a bullet I've given life to     There are some days where I don't want to be


a body or have a body or become a body     There are some days I wish I wasn't

loved for (my) body at all     That this body did not earn love or grow apple   


in the tree of somebody's eye that this love grew     in an orchard

somewhere between     my hummingbird of heart and theirs  


There are some days when my body becomes ghost     When I become

the blesséd no body but then become     a nobody and (my) body becomes


the thing I am     haunted by the most     Once, a boy held

my breath in the     palm of his hand and all he felt was     flesh


the warm of breast the dark pink of areola      around his lips but

an Olympus of bodies have felt this flesh     this smile maybe


these lips and flint tongue these     hips and legs the intersection of my   

arm hooked     in the crook of theirs but none have


broken through the precipice     the soggy ghost of me

the deep the dark matter that     lies beneath this skin

So my body is (becomes) just a body     a body that sinks

that turns decomp     to soil to roadway and boulevard to


kitchen sink and crushed velvet couch      to useful to some body

to my body is just a body a body ab ody abo    dy a bo dy a b od


y ab o  dy a bo d y a bo d yod     y abo dy a bo dy a b ody

ab ody abo dy a     b od y bo dy ab o dy a bo d






Sheila J. Sadr is a first generation Iranian-American poet, journalist, educator, and resident cow-enthusiast nuzzled somewhere in the southern California coast. This is her first publication in poetry. She took first place at the 2018 Jack Rabbit Poetry Slam and has been featured at The Definitive Soapbox, Two Idiots Peddling Poetry, Afrohaus Brunch, and many other gems. Find her on Instagram @ohohsheilaa.

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