Deception Story

Friends describe my DISPOSITION

as stoic. Like a dead fish, a lover said. DISTANCE

is a funny drug and used to make me a DISTRESSED PERSON,

one who cried in bedrooms and airports. Once I bawled so hard at the
border, even the man with the stamps and holster said Don’t cry. You’ll be
home soon. My DISTRIBUTION

over the globe debated and set to quota. A nation can only handle so many

class, I break into my friend’s dad’s mansion and swim in the Beverly Hills
pool in a borrowed T-shirt. A brief DIVERSION.

My body breaking the chlorinated surface makes it, momentarily, my house,

of driveway gate and alarm codes, my dress-rehearsed DOCTRINE

of pool boys and ping-pong and water delivered on the backs of sequined
Sparkletts trucks. Over here, DOLLY,

an agent will call out, then pat the hair at your hot black DOME.

After explaining what she will touch, backs of the hands at the breasts and
buttocks, the hand goes inside my waistband and my heart goes DORMANT.

A dead fish. The last female assist I decided to hit on. My life in the
American Dream is a DOWNGRADE,

a mere DRAFT

of home. Correction: it satisfies as DRAG.

It is, snarling, what I carve of it alone.

— Solmaz Sharif

American poet Solmaz Sharif was born in Istanbul to Iranian parents. She holds degrees from UC Berkeley and New York University. She’s working on a poetic rewrite of the US Department of Defense’s dictionary, of which this poem is a part. Words appearing in all caps are terms in this dictionary of war.

[Research note: Solmaz Sharif, LOOK (Minneapolis: Gray Wolf Press, 2016): 15]