Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


You Look Like Your Mother

in Middle East by

Son, you look like your mother,
you look like me,

                                         the keeper
of harpsichord silence, the barterer

for language like an old babushka,
smiling with golden fillings,
                                         the reluctant
immigrant from a country that doesn’t matter,

strung thin by the old Carpathians,
the yellow rims,             their rickety durmasts,

right there where you still

Yesterday, newspapers with fat lips
told us that your “father’s people,”

men with black turbans and rough cheeks
that tell the short history of forgetting
         to be kind to each other,

have been trying
to re-learn to be happy with themselves,

since 1979, when someone somewhere messed up.

Drone attacks, deployed missiles,
and a bunch of casualties with severed limbs

and torn hearts,             those peduncular selves
                                         so enclaved by silences,
                                         so devoted to that
which they cannot see.

Much to feel guilty about.

If there is war tomorrow, your name
shall carry the sour heave of ethnicity,

the ancient ink of the Zagros, and that’s
         how you will be written

in this city where everyone is     a John Doe.

But lucky you, your face looks like mine,
a peaceful moon hung up
                      in a once-upon-a-corner

of the world nobody cares about,

its smallness fractured by the distance,

and in this family,
we don’t want any trouble,

we are vigilant as if walking through
a checkpoint,

we don’t stir the water, dragging out dirt,
we shake our heads no,

and try to forget everything
                                         about blood.


Roxana L. Cazan’s poems have most recently been featured in Connecticut River Review, Construction Magazine, Cold Creek Review, Hektoen International, Watershed Review, The Peeking Cat Anthology, The Portland Review, The Woody Guthrie Anthology. She lives in Oklahoma City, OK.


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