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Friday, April 05, 2013


by Roger Sedarat 

Mahmoud Ahmadinajad by Tamer Youssef

                “We will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear
                weapon.” -- Leon Panetta (former US Defense Secretary)

“Where’s all this terror they find in Iran?”
She asked, over the New York Times. “They act
Like it’s the Nazis or the Soviets.”
Long married, they’d had this same talk before.
He wanted to take notes on what they said,
Banal reporter instead of poet.
“They mean the military threat.” He poured
More coffee, pleased to stir the pot again.
“Okay,” she said, the iPad in her hand:
“A single missile on a transport truck.
I saw one of these last time in Shiraz;
They brought it out in some stupid parade
To show their military might (such men).
It’s really all they fucking had besides
Teen soldiers, bearded boys who looked hungry,
As if they missed their moms.” It was his turn
To launch a counterstrike, antagonize
The enemy like Ahmadinejad.
“How do we know what they might be hiding?”
She dropped her breakfast bar and rolled her eyes.
“Oh sure, a nuke! Just like Bush with Iraq;
I think the threat’s completely overblown,
A bluff in poker.” “But Muslims don’t bet,”
He interjected. Using his smug tone
She knew belonged in academia.
“Oh Roger! You’re just looking for a fight!”
“I know,” he said, ‘performing’ my Iran.”
“I know,” she said with heavy sarcasm.
“It all comes down to art for you, who cares
About reality as long as it
Becomes a poem.” “Life is just a dream,”
He said in Persian. “Just a dream?” she asked.
“Suppose we drop real bombs and people die.”
“But you yourself keep saying it’s a game.”
He knew this last comeback had gone too far.
“You’re being difficult!” She slammed her fist.
“I know, and so are you,” he said in kind.
“It’s like we’re taking turns at acting like
The U.S. and Iran, always at war.”
She sighed, frustratingly, and he sighed back,
Aware how much she hated being mocked.
In silence they went back to the paper,
Avoiding talk of new conflicts they read.

Roger Sedarat is the author of two poetry collections: Dear Regime: Letters to the Islamic Republic, which won Ohio UP's 2007 Hollis Summers' Prize, and Ghazal Games (Ohio UP, 2011). He teaches poetry and literary translation in the MFA Program at Queens College, City University of New York.