Introduction (to Sepehri)

I am Tehrani (Ahle Tehranam).
I pass strings through words
and sell necklaces on the streets of New York.
I use words because they’re cheap,
cheaper than pearls, diamonds, rubies.
I have a sackful I brought with me:
Farsi words, dramatic words, slang words, nuclear words
(shayda, efflorescence, swaggy, decay).
Look into my sack, pick a word, any word
and I’ll make a necklace to hang around your lonely thoughts
or a bracelet to tickle your mother’s rainy reveries.
I design in verse, sonnet, even ghazal.
Pick a word, any word.
Forgotten words, last words, trapped words, even unborn words.
These three: Dark Red Flower* are from a woman
a stringer herself.
They drowned in a drop of violence.
I carry a little boy’s first word.
It was in his dad’s pocket when time gave up on him.
Open my sack and take my words out.
I’m Tehrani.
I make my living stringing words.

* Dark Red Flower refers to a collection of poetry by Afghan poet, Nadia Anjuman who was beaten to death in 2005.