Irras Han is an American living in Geneva, Switzerland. After giving up
trying to find a country to call home, she now enjoys the freedom that
comes with being rootless. She is a past winner of Alliance Francaise
poetry competition. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in
Altramarea 2003 (Rassegna Nazionale di Poesia Contemporanea), Poem
, Tryst, The Ugly Tree, Dead Drunk Dublin, and Magma.


Your past and future
played itself into a game
of connecting the dots.

Did it fragment your vision,
freeze the contour of metaphor,
map the feather of light
onto the thin edge of a knife?
Is it by accident or design

that you know, you just know:
the net will not hold,
to dive is to fall
on phantom ice—the ripening mass
that falters in neon gas—
to dive is to touch no end?

For your room is a universe
crash-landed in a desert
then flooded by the sea
who brought you a shell ear
to listen to your years,

and beneath the chemise
there are primary colors,
rings of Saturn,
your other self
that can not be seen

cause to see is to explain
the taste of quartz,
the splinters in your chest,
how truth lies
closer to the flesh,
the untraveled distance.

And you already know:
in a mindscape, a galaxy
is very near and very far.

Shepherd's Bush

You turn the borrowed key,
unlock a London brick house:
one of a million
of the same
that repeats.

Streetlight sneaks in,
crux on a fresh coat of paint.
All sits very still
in this narrow interval
as if sitting for a photograph.

You climb up the stairs.
The carpet muffled footsteps,
an astronaut's lonely ascent.
Before you, a muted nest,
the light melted down lives

that you wish were a science,
something that could be measured
by your hands. But nothing composes
the intensity that you desire
if forms are already entwined

on other forms, like fused statues,
every curve speaks a reservoir
of an unknown depth
known to them but so distant,
so foreign to you.

So forever you press your face
against the obscure glass,
whisper something that matches
this that repeats
and repeats

as if there were no doors,
no boundary to hold your inside
from spilling the entrails
onto the wet, empty street.

You hear rain.
Gravity distracts.
The walls not quite vertical.
Arctic wind has found your veins.

A car drives by,
shines a Black Sea
in Shepherd's Bush.

The Gypsies

The caravans rolled in during the night,
queued up next to the abandoned motel.
Under dusty lights, a fresh circle of old cars
iron branded the town. Precisely
where they came from,
nobody knew.

Morning commuters were the first
to encounter the surprise visitors.
For the next few days, windshield washers
persisted, not deterred
by hurriedly rolled up windows
or the curses beneath the soapsuds.
A few women peddled glass "love" beads—
the kind one buys in bulk and discards.
"But Madame, surely," they declared, "Surely love
is worth more than one Franc."

People who did not own property
found this all very funny: the colorful laundries
ghost danced in the wind, as proud as UN flags,
and the satellite dishes raised high on the roofs—
a mushroom of small ears listening in on the world.
Once I saw a young man, fully nude
except for a G-string and tennis shoes,
strolling by the side of the road
without a care in the world.

Then suddenly they were gone.
The empty lot sealed off by a high dirt mound.
A very Swiss way to say:
do not ever come back.
Tranquility was restored.
Fields of sunflowers blossomed soon after.
Everyone of them had its face facing the east
towards the morning sun, uniform and obedient
like Hitler's soldiers. Not a single one dared
to turn its head away.

Back to Front.