Author Archives: MP

if it was too difficult—

—the saying is, something like, if it was too difficult, if it shattered you, you would only do it once. never twice.

but we do it again and again like breath

that you cannot help but expel in order to take in more

(a mixed tape from some blue-eyed boy has in the lyrics of a track mid-way through “love is like oxygen”, dramatic and heavy, makes me blush; followed by Pulp singing “Common People”, because I’m not; followed by a track of his own voice recorded)


For some of us, falling is like living, inevitable and effortless.

My friend rolls her eyes and goes to her job but I’m saying: We—the people—

(I feel like a Founding Father) do not

know how to live right, straight up. Comb our hair. Set our teeth in line.

We too go to jobs and pay our bills and brush our teeth and say our prayers and the hearts we’ve broken bleed out all over town in rivers

It was never meant

—not even once. We were just taking in some air,

again-again-again, like that.

(because I quite like Katniss Everdeen)

they cast her wrong in the film, not thin,

a bone jutting from the rib, sharp and stick-like

good for poking out an eye, scrappy–

means nothing more than scraps, pieces not good enough for eating or keeping or even stitching together.

they fall onto the floor or into the waste bins and we feel, yes, that is where they belong.

Is it too bold to say women are scraps? That we are unkind to each other because we’ve never felt ourselves whole pieces?

(That we scrape by. That we scrap together.)

The force with which a woman will move the earth is a force we all know well,

that of our mother’s dragging us home by limp wrist, jerking us off the road where cars fly by, keeping our clothes clean so we may appear presentable,

ready for life.

my cat, my car–

–fall out of a book I never finished reading. The pictures show a life I no longer own, someone else’s memories of silver metal and steering wheel, white fur, fat and round as a pin cushion, and you. You’re not actually in the photograph. But see? There. And there. And there. And see, there. I see you there.

Put out–

–your body like a flat sheet on the firm mattress and let’s go back to 1903, together. Put that spiral of pills out of sight and please, don’t mention the latex of smell and plastica-ugliness at a time like this. We’re turning back clocks and you’re the one on the job, the gal asked to wind them with your red fingertips, wind them with all your might.

Lay back. It’s a ride, girl, so let out a good scream.

My best friend (the engineer) was asked in a meeting of “serious thinkers of our generation”, to offer one solution, the best singular fix in diminishing poverty and curbing human suffering.

“Birth control”,  she said flatly, in that engineering-way: simple. The way a man knows his want of a naked Nefertiti, the tangle of black hair and silken brown flesh on a gilded floor, waiting to be devoured.

missing california/ missing you

These are not the same pain but both come from the same spot on my body, buried underneath clothes: I wear gloves for cold weather that is not home. The mountain shows a face that is not yours.

Dr. Milani–

–smiles when he speaks, a genial smile, a celebrity’s smile. In response to my question, which I’ve phrased like an anvil, he raises the corners of his fatherly mustache and says “but we have achieved so much”.

He tells me without answering me–why is Iran the way it is? why isn’t it changing, if it is full of young people, of educated women, of democracy-seekers? why doesn’t revolution again take hold?–not to worry, that things are poised to get better, that a democratic Iran is on its way.

(I do want, so much, to believe him.)

I stand at a microphone in a lecture hall of a prestigious American university, dressed as I choose and endowed with rights to speak, to opine, to think, to demonstrate, to congregate, to disagree with men and women, to discuss in forum, and I wonder:

(not about Iran, not about the women there, not about what will happen for them)

I wonder, do my 18-year-old students who L-O-V-E-! Chris Brown–a famous pop star who beat his more-famous pop star girlfriend until her face swelled like a ripe plum–understand what human and civil rights are worth? Because I’m afraid they do not know, do not realize that the women they let down when they say “ya, he hit her, but it’s not such a big deal” are not only their classmates at American university but their unknown classmates, young women they’ve never met, somewhere over an ocean.

beauty & mistakes

Elaine Scarry asks us to consider an instance in which we have made an error regarding beauty. Have we dismissed a thing that we were certain could not be beautiful only later to realize how beautiful it really was? Or given the power of beauty to a person or place, an object that did not deserve it, that we later find is not beautiful at all, but plain, even ugly?

For her it is palm trees, a thing she once dismissed. And then one day she finds herself eye-level with a palm ” arcing, arching, waving, cresting and breaking in the soft air, throwing the yellow sunlight up over itself and catching it on the other side, running its fingers down its own piano keys, then running them back up again, shuffling and dealing glittering decks of aqua, green, yellow, and white” and without meaning to change her mind, it has changed.

For me it was Los Angeles, a concrete coffin, smog-blasted and sun-drenched, populated by all the mad people in all the cars on all the roads, going nowhere, circling in time. For two years I did not see beauty while I lived right in it, spun myself in hideous circles. Then one day I drove back from a friend’s house on the 405, the freeway from San Diego to Los Angeles. It was 2 am and the traffic was at a complete standstill in Long Beach, which meant the red lights poured up one side of the freeway and the yellow down the other. I had noticed before, that this could essentially be pretty, that lights are attention-catching, colorful. This was not the unprecedented thought that occurred to me. In fact it was all the mad people in all the cars on all the roads, with me, thrumming along, blaring their horns, that lifted me. Indeed my heart quickened. I came quite alive. These are the things that happen to you, Scarry says, in the presence of real beauty.