Two Poems by Sarah E. Azizi

Kind Conditions
for Stephanie
Over & over this image in my dreams:                         	an axe slices
                                                thru the air                             I’m belly down
my lips the color of cherries                                           	dazzling snowflakes
decorate my eye lashes                                                 	still I can see the axe
fall onto powdery glistening snow         	
hitch its metal arc in frozen dirt                          	        I’m warm    	
covered in fur-trimmed puffy coat                                                         	I’m safe
sticking out my tongue to catch                                                   the kind of snow
that comes down only in certain parts of the world                  under the just right
                                    & finally today I woke & wondered:                   	
                                    who would we be if we had the just right conditions?
        	         Hold her up   the baby likes to take in the world from your shoulder
           Moondrop grapes 	 are her favorite
                    	Keep the door cracked at night 	 he’s still a wee bit afraid
                                            	of the dark                                     	aren’t we all

Elementary Graduation

My white mother’s hissing
in my ear, pinching my arm.
Around me: tight-lipped
women. I learned their rules
eventually, surely & sorely.
Digging thru old photos
shows me I was a little
girl like any other, really.
How funny the teachers found
this loud-mouthed dark-haired
child w/ the weird name. I craved
approval, the smiling nods so freely
given to mediocrity, & at best doled
out in teaspoons to the likes of me.
I wonder now how a world
that welcomed me would look—
one w/o such class
room violence. If I’m foreign,
what are they? Limited.
See me now: I’m scraping
assimilated normalization
from my mind, scrubbing
those chalk boards squeaky clean.
I architect my universe, invite
in the precious beings I aim
to protect. I’m tapping
my acrylics, I’m out of patience
for the bland teeth of American
veneer. It’s girls like me for whom
I lift my arm to wave, to welcome,
to say: Beautiful ones, come closer.
                    	Don’t be a stranger.

Sarah E. Azizi (aka Sera Miles) is a queer Iranian-American writer, educator, and activist. Previous and forthcoming publications include: $pread Magazine, 34th Parallel, Blue Mesa Review, Fahmidan Journal, Clean Sheets, red, The Tide Rises, HELD, Wrongdoing Magazine, the winnow, Superpresent, Nine Mile, and Free State Review. She lives in Albuquerque.

Guest Editor Hyejung Kook’s poems have appeared in POETRY Magazine, Denver Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Pleiades, and elsewhere. Other works include an essay in Critical Flame and a chamber opera libretto. Born in Seoul, Korea, she now lives in Kansas with her husband and their two children. Learn more at her website.


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