Ali Alizadeh's forthcoming books include a historiographic cross-genre
memoir-novel, Iran: My Grandfather (Transit Lounge), to be launched
at the Sydney Writers' Festival 2010; and the bilingual poetry anthology,
Six Vowels and Twenty Three Consonants: An Anthology of Persian Poetry
From Rudaki to Langroodi
, translated and edited with John Kinsella. Ali's
previous books include the novel The New Angel (Transit Lounge, 2008);
with Ken Avery, Fifty Poems of Attar (, 2007); the collection of
poetry Eyes in Times of War (Salt, 2006); and the narrative verse eliXir:
a story in poetry
(Grendon, 2002). Ali has also written the lyrics for
Shannon-Goodrich Ensemble's world jazz album, Worlds Within Worlds
(New Market Music, 2008); and co-written, with Bill Mousoulis, the
vampire film A Nocturne (DVD to be released by Troma, 2010). Ali has
a PhD from Deakin University, and works as a writing and literature
lecturer/instructor. His interests are continental philosophy, history, his
wife Penelope and son Jasper, and tofu.

For John Mateer

I'll speak you mine, you speak me yours
since all's in the telling, content, form

to mangle the Master's eavesdropping
on subalterns' whispers, going Chinese

subversive, maybe just incomprehensible
or incomprehensibly blunt. My Farsi

the fierce Real or the sad Other of the Master-
Signifiers, Sylvester to their Tweety or

a Roadrunner, mercurial, radical
to thwart the tyrant's order of things? I'll say

something to you, you say something
to me, and bar me from understanding

this or that—who'd ever want me
in control, so damn crazy to accumulate

secrets, gossip, sedition, gesticulation
even if I am, say, sentient, so what

's in it for you? Forge a discourse
to chain your/my tongue/s. You'll write me

yours, I write you mine, and we'll relish
the mystery of the written sign, the tricky

similitude between things, incoherent
thorn in the monoglot Master's eye.

'Feast of Hunger' Revisited
For Matt Hetherington

My taut insides
twisted in hunger. I was

at the table, my plate
reflected a callow face. I sensed

the sound of emptiness
creak in my bones. I knew

about you. My knowledge
a précis of our friendship: wisdom

served at the banquets
with hors d'oeuvres, empathy

you freely dished out
to so many. I recollected

your largess. My plate
now smeared with the saucy remains

of past food. I wondered
about you: have 'the spokes of the sacred

wheel' been turning in your
direction? Or is your hair's whiteness

(and mine) an indigestible
ingredient of this hunger? I reconsidered

the void before me. Now
a bowl of garnished dahl

steamed in the shape
of your Roman nose, your calm eyes.

The Brink

I sat at the brink
of the precipice. I massaged

my frosted toes
before the leap. My fingers

hard as marble, about
to crack like crystal. I knew

my own story: excess
in an auburn, tropical place

tanned people, and their
casual debauchery. All

smothered now, under
this cloak of fragmented ice. My feet

didn't dangle off the edge
of the cliff. They were more stiff

than frozen rock. My breath
steamed when I remembered

the abundance and heat
of my past. Moist beaming faces

I used to dance with
at youth festivals, when love

allured unconditionally. Now
expectant ghosts of friends,

sad guests at my ceremonial
plunge. I wasn't sad. I yearned

to fall from the harsh parsimony
of the desert of snow. I found

that my blood was flammable
after my demise. It leaked

then gushed from the broken
crevices of my body. The spark

provided by the projections
of a shaken mind. Blindingly golden

flames heaved from the mess
of shattered organs. I felt warm.

The Letters I Won't Write

The letters I won't write
murmur most inaudibly

through the signs
of something like this

sometimes find the cracks
to transmit their noise. I've

no intention to write
to my father (about it all) but

it's a parallel epistle
fear and disappointment

inscribed in between
lines of a poem, say, or lines

spoken by a novel's hero
who (of course) has nothing

to do with a father. Cunning
and assiduous as I am

I can't always trap
the unknowable facts

in a cage constructed
of calculated artifice. Sooner

or later, hellish growls
of past hurts vibrate

the basis of an elaborate
indirect simulation. Not

formal constrictors—'Dear...'
to 'Yours...'—but the gist

of an absolute, undocumented
list of accusations

that only insinuates
and never truly represents

the letters I can't write.

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