The Very First; The Line; Delivery; For Sale; Burgundy

The Very First

Let’s finish this. Stern, fierce, unamused.
I only listen cause I’m a good listener,
she once told me. I believed
in magic when I was innocent
still, around the time dad bought me
a pair of football boots, my very first.
Kiss? No, we’re far past that point
of bridges crumbling like your most
precious dream. Remember what
we promised on the beach? No?
Lucky you! I’ve always had rotten
fortune ever since that day
I got injured on my first official
football game. What a waste of boots.
The Line

Self-contained miracles,
a whole ecosystem in a bottle
made of too-fragile glass
that obliviously holds
the weight of an entire world.

Entangled leaves and roots
fighting for existence
as if they somehow knew
beyond what they experience
significance ends.

Knock on the door scissors
my daydreaming unjustifiably.
What could possibly be so urgent
that warrants this violent disruption?
Nothing short of birth.

It’s just another postman
with yet another letter from
that same corner of the world
where I used to be rooted deep.
I am a stranger in life.

I throw the letter onto
the pile of unopened mail
that is beginning to outgrow
me like an ambitious offspring.
In a shroud of clouds.

I resist the urge to hold
a conversation with somebody
who is not here anymore, so much
so that the lights start to scream at me.
Laughter is a disease.

The neighbor next door
bangs on the wall per usual
in the evening to signal his return
from a long day of avoiding duties.
Nooses shouldn’t be loose.

If I don’t respond
soon my neighbor will
come prying and this would
all have been for nothing at all.
Stillness is everything.
For Sale

Put a name to my face,
just this once. Please.
Tomorrow I’ll be selling
it at the pawn shop
before it loses all value.

I’ll spell out my name for you,
if you’d like,
I’ll write it down on a piece
of garbage so you won’t
have to hold on to it for long.

Perhaps you’ll recognize me
on somebody else. Someday.
Maybe even recall the times
you mistook me
for someone you loved.

I’m taking this thing off
for good this time.
Come see me off
at the pawn shop tomorrow,
just this once. Please.

The more I sit in the bathtub the more
I think about Burgundy.

Charles the Bold endeavored
to unite, but was defeated again
and again and time again,
finally dying after a mere 10-year rule.

I think I know what he felt
in that ultimate winter of his death.
Like I am surrounded by 
water in the bathtub,
he too had enemies all around.
The French to the west, the Habsburgs
to the east, and so many traitors
from within.

When Charles died, everybody
was too occupied smelling blood
to mourn his passing. Nobody
remembered his aspirations
of unity and reform. Instead,
they nicknamed him The Reckless
because he dared to strive.

His body was pierced
with spears and a halberd. His right
cheek was chewed off
by a wolf near a frozen river.
His blood must have sprayed
a sharp contrast against the white of the snow,
the same, I think, as the Burgundy would,
splashed against the white tiles of my bathroom.


Hossein Sobhani is a poet and translator from Bushehr, Iran. He is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.