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Two Poems by Arman Salem: Co-Working Space at the Flatiron We and Stakes Pin Toes to Ground

Co-Working Space at the Flatiron We

I like narrow homes, sprouting,

with a person or two spread between.

Four walls, and, for vanity's sake,

half as many cats, confined.

I missed the county museum exhibit on blue. Why?

Signs are misleading,

skeletons of trees, standing

hanging in suburban yards.

Noxious breath reeks of ambition.

I know this is bad,

my banana tastes like coffee every day.

On the side of the road, a baby carriage flips over

but forests grow back, I mean this in earnest.

There are pigeons beneath penn station

and a coffee stand man, not keen on learning names.

Stakes Pin Toes to Ground

He lived an unremarkable life or else left it entirely.

The strength of the memory lies in its distance. So you’ll understand,

I’m trying to jot it all down.

I’d like to leave a perfect paper trail.

There’s not much space between leaving and running.

Just enough for shadows to tower like people

and for traffic to roar gently below.

Maybe countries are just like stores and, if so,

what does it matter to befriend the clerk?

Maybe he was caught between synapses

like double-parked cars or . . .

I’m telling stories I don’t really know. Let me try something else:

His life was fancy like Nespresso. There were cuts on his little pores.

He bathed in hydrogen peroxide. The air turned hazy blue.

Recessed into the mountain. Stories worth your breath to say.

There were shades of purple between gray-blue fog.

Sinewy traps, a buffet below.

Arman Salem is an Iranian-American writer and translator living in New York. He graduated from Villanova in May 2020, and this is his first published work.


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