The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2023

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APRIL 2023 Issue



It is courtesy of the bantering in the schoolhouse next to which I live that she
dies and I wish to do this.
It is night. The school, the fontanelle is quiet, my stomping ground,
the stomping ground of all students rolled up in a deep bow and onto the shelf
-- the pen-- from her to her to him and from him to her --who sleep in a
valley like a gull and the pen rests in its peak.
The students are gossiping and tree-hugging it—the pen in their sleep
that moves in their sleep that I dare not touch.

Their hands shake and spider round a word
on the table center. It’s ponderous, their school word—Fontanelle–
and growing rounder as it rolls to and fro their hands across the table.
Now children— they who
take a deep bow—and huh— long before they are finished, they begin.
“I must not waste the will of God,” they cry,
their heads plunged whole into the fontanelle,
“Not until we’ve reached
our teacher in her sleep’s dark bottom,
and walked on our hands before our walls--the bird, the cloud, like portraits
hung on every side. On the doleful
floor whose earth gives way
so easily to waters we often mistake the stair, purple, for a ripple,
it seems to make the very ground we awkwardly are in a jig with,
out to be our mockery.
Then it seems we have hand stood so low as to be rising
(notes on the next day, notes to the day before, written on the day that can’t
yet be found--)
and further down, our hands in graves
feel the silk hall pass of the earth, and the slippers of the worm,
and though we could not see us move
like our teacher moves—
it was later written that we had stood long before our portraits –
that our feet were moving joyfully (juggling the chins of clouds)
though our faces were weeping–
for our teacher
and the old tree with hands behind its back
tied with mourning doves that are so to speak resting there – ripely balancing
for all time—
and mourning what has been done to them,
what clouds have written out— in nasty font— their double chins in flames—
It is then the center of the table opens up round with our tears that softly cloth
the table, then our chests open for the laughing gull—
or the mourning doves?—with the pen eyes
whitestitched – diving—to dip us—in our wells—

A Spider’s Guess


Quest! Like a black bookstop on the studious head. School
Sun-slate in my lap, gavel
At my knees. It plays: “Worms of the Bell on the Sternum Ring.”

A trail spins out, I point:
Now worms of the bell, really, the sternum ring!
A sign is robbed in pink day, first the tailor’s,
Once the milliner’s.
It twirls all my bridges, yet it pares me too:
It raises hands. Then misery spills its rosary.

A boy will polish the gull
of his knee, which is pecked
rim and round at all coordinates of the hour,
speaking of the rhythm I do
on the way to losing my foot.

A boy with pull, of armor and orchard, of kneel with squirrel.
With a bowl on his head for cutting. Under the bowl, rose
within rose, chin rocked by the breeze.


One word more
From the unsealed earth, in swan files poured.
A painting swishes around in her mouth.
When she gargles it is sometimes called: “Knees in Doveshit.”

Then the portent of which she seemed spun.
Shoot me in my rhyme face !
A trail spins out, I point:

It blowholes this pill-- a face-- in my palm,
Then misery spills its rosary
To dial the air and further on,
then hills come down on hills, I guess--

A spider floats up to pick up the phone.
It is sold fashion cream and gold, with blowholes
at both ends!

A "no" ninjastars, grazing
over my head.
A "yes" ninjastars above the "no" and cuts the udders from the cow
who chandeliers this space—
the bouquet of udders falls in my arms ‐‐
and my mouth fogs it, fills it,
with baby's breath, I guess.


Farnoosh Fathi

Farnoosh Fathi is the author of Great Guns (2013) and Granny Cloud (2024), the editor of Joan Murray: Drafts, Fragments, and Poems (2018), and the founder of the Young Artists Language and Devotion Alliance (YALDA).


The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2023

All Issues