Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad

Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad was born and raised in New York.  Her poetry has appeared in Passages North, Quail Bell magazine, Chiron Review, Poydras Review, and is forthcoming in HEArt Journal, Natural Bridge, and Pinch Journal. She currently lives in New York and practices matrimonial law.

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Jokes and Looks

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It was neither, I wanted to tell him,

not before the mutual hatred for figs

and cantaloupe, the quizzical way

his smile fainted before a camera,

which I understood (the uncouthness

of impromptu amusement), though I still

argued for the value of shared custom,

the necessity for exclamations, and

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not before the way he left cold brews

unfinished in plastic containers,

these casual traces of his movements

baristas discarded, the way he pointed

to planets that dotted the fabric

covering both soles;

Saturn is not the only body

encircled with rings, he mentioned,

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and not before the brief lesson

in quantum physics and anatomy;

the brain is a sneaky motherfucker,

he said; I did not smile, but I nodded and

kept it all a secret, gave a cold shoulder

to the bloom in my stomach

when I saw him chumming

concrete for mermaids

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I didn’t even know

how I buried each parcel

into deliberate forgetfulness,

held my body still when he made jokes,

turned away from early morning

good looks, instead listened

to the nothings, the pedestrians

that walked out of his throat

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But maybe it was later,

after he commented

on the philosophical bullshit

of ticket machines:

add value or add time? he asked

in bewildered frustration,

which is when my face finally split,

released a million captive sounds, and

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apathy as armor dissolved for humor,

for the exasperation of a tough guy

who doesn’t get Subway stations, and

I carelessly took note of the space between

hair and skin in the shape of my lips,

wishing this piece would lend itself

forever to my mouth,

as I held in my palms the rest of him

p

p

Name

p

Ah, dan-

g

 p

Again,

left

undone

 p

Slammed like

a dun-

k

 p

Struck like

a dun-

t

 p

Like

udon,

slurped till

all gone

 p

Trapped in

a dun-

geon

but

weeds shine bright

like

a dan-

delion;

a dan-

gerous

daydream

p

A dan-

cing

train

derailed

me

p

A dan-

gling

hankering;

donned

in dirty linen

A dan-

dy time lost,

so I prayed

when I heard

ad-han,

even to M-

a-don-

na

p

For what?

A-don

is?

Oh, please,

par-don

me

p

Just an itch,

a dan-

druff-type

itch;

a flake

that escaped

p

A dan-

k

cellar

with no depth,

none

p

none

at all

p

so now I’m

back here,

drained, wearied,

and

ah,

p

ah, done

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