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About this poet

Solmaz Sharif’s first poetry collection, LOOK (Graywolf Press, 2016), was a finalist for the National Book Award in poetry. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rona Jaffe Foundation. Sharif is currently a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University in California.

Mess Hall

Your knives tip down
in the dish rack
of the replica plantation home,
you wash hands

with soaps pressed into seahorses
and scallop shells white
to match your guest towels,
and, like an escargot fork,

you have found the dimensions
small enough to break
a man—
a wet rag,

a bullet on the back of the cup
the front
like a bishop or an armless knight
of the Ku Klux Klan

the silhouette
through your nighttime window
a quartet
plays a song you admire,

outside a ring of concertina wire
circles around a small collapse.
America, ignore the window and look at your lap:
even your dinner napkins are on fire.

Copyright © 2014 by Solmaz Sharif. Previously appeared in conjunction with Craft and Folk Art Museum's "Ehren Tool: Production or Destruction" exhibit. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Solmaz Sharif. Previously appeared in conjunction with Craft and Folk Art Museum's "Ehren Tool: Production or Destruction" exhibit. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

 

Solmaz Sharif

Solmaz Sharif

Solmaz Sharif’s first poetry collection, LOOK (Graywolf Press, 2016), was a finalist for the National Book Award in poetry.

by this poet

poem

You are like a daughter
to me
—the prisoner’s
mother tells me. Meal by
meal she sets then clears. She

rinses some tablewear
the prisoner never
held, then a glass she did,
then recalls her daughter’s

mouth opening softly
to drink water on state-
run TV,

2
poem

 

Friends describe my DISPOSITION

as stoic. Like a dead fish, an ex said. DISTANCE

is a funny drug and used to make me a DISTRESSED PERSON,

one who cried in bedrooms and airports. Once I bawled so hard at the border, even the man with the stamps and holster said Don’t cry. You’

2
poem

Everywhere we went, I went
in pigtails
no one could see—

ribbon curled
by a scissor’s sharp edge,
the bumping our cars

undertook when hitting
those strips
along the interstate

meant to shake us
awake. Everywhere we went
horses bucking