Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions. Use "Verse News Submission" as the subject line. Send a brief bio. No payment. Authors retain all rights after 1st-time appearance here. Scroll down the right sidebar for the fine print.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


by Kara Provost

I should have stopped for tea.
She introduced herself
as Persian, not Iranian,
Iran the bad guys in America—
crazy strangers with covered faces
and bombs strapped to their bodies.
Most of us had it all wrong,
but Persian sounded softer on the tongue.

As I walked past my neighbor’s house
delicious scents would waft
through the screen door—cardamom,
coriander, and spices unknown    
waving a greeting like
the American flag
flapping from the front porch.

She invited me in
through the side door, like family,
not the front, portal
for strangers and salesmen.
      Your little daughter, such big eyes—
      so beautiful. She and my grandchild
      could play together—
dark-eyed girl same age as mine,
dancing through the kitchen.
      I watch her while my daughter works
      at the bank—she has her degree.
      I have a son, too, still working on his—
I had seen him coming
and going in his dark sunglasses
and dark Mercedes.
but my husband...
her voice stopped—
      still back in Iran.
      My son needs a father’s hand.

But I was busy, had to go
before trying her barbari bread, warm
from the oven, like nothing
you could get in the store.

Perhaps if I’d come back,
accepted her invitation
to stop by for hot mint tea,
sweet, green-tinged in tall glasses,
as I always meant to,
I would have learned her secret
sadness—the husband behind bars
who would never leave Iran,
the son who refused
to speak Farsi or live
at home anymore—
and her little Ariana
would have taught my daughter
the words for bread, for tea
as we sat together, our voices
floating in the honeyed steam.

Kara Provost has published two chapbooks, Topless (Main Street Rag press, 2011) and Nests (Finishing Line Press, 2006), as well as five microchapbooks with the Origami Poems project.  Her poetry and memoir pieces have appeared in Connecticut Review, Main Street Rag, Hurricane Alice, The Newport Review, Ibbetson Street, The Aurorean, and other journals, as well as in an anthology edited by David Starkey and Wendy Bishop, In Praise of Pedagogy: Poetry, Flash Fiction, and Essays on Composing. Kara earned a PhD in English from the University of Minnesota and a BA from Hampshire College. Currently, she teaches writing and directs the First-Year Honors Program at Curry College (Milton, MA) in addition to conducting creative writing workshops for elementary students through adults. She can be reached at kp85(at)