How Many Love Poems. The debut chapbook by Darius Atefat-Peckham, selected by Ron Mohring as Number 3 in Volume 5 of our Editor’s Series.
Publication: September 5, 2021 [100 copies]
Darius Atefat-Peckham is an Iranian-American poet and essayist. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Indiana Review, Barrow Street, Michigan Quarterly Review, Texas Review, Brevity, Crab Orchard Review, and elsewhere. His work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including My Shadow is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora (University of Texas Press). In 2018, he was selected by the Library of Congress as a National Student Poet, and traveled the Midwest in this capacity to teach middle school and high school-aged students about the concurrence of grief and joy in literature. Atefat-Peckham was recently a winner of the Breakout 8 Award from Epiphany: A Literary Journal. He grew up in Huntington, West Virginia, and was raised by two English Professors, Joel and Rachael Peckham, who also happen to be his favorite writers. He currently studies creative writing at Harvard College.
Here’s a Love Poem to Navid the Wrestler
–after the imposed double execution of professional wrestler, Navid Afkari,
for peacefully protesting the Iranian government in 2008
I die twice. Once just to get there, to walk down
dream-colored streets once ………belonging
to my grandmother, to her home. Once
to lay myself down, head submerged
in the Caspian, receive seventy-four new veins across my legs
as they tickle tulips at the foot of the Alborz. Sigh
to bleed ……… a garden. I die with reassurance, the eyes
of my American parents boring into their American
son. They aren’t kind to our citizens, there.
So I grow out my beard, just ……… once, and
grow my legs strong for carrying, the roots of myself
unfurled, steady for the bell. I roll my r’s, growl
Persian in the bubble ……… of my throat. I wrap my new legs
around Nina and her illness, Grandma and her
fall. I prick Navid’s neck with my lashes,
carry them all to my wellspring
beneath the Alborz. Drown ……… them. Become too
connected to the earth not to care for
the others. I lie cold in my cell. And as I fall into
sleep, remind myself that to die in one
country, I must do so in ……… the next.