a young man desperately buries himself under damp leaves while helicopters hunt him police laugh as he tries to hide in the foliage a neighbor with a device to eavesdrop on scanners catches this tidbit shares it with the online group crime doesn’t pay lol you think the leaves make you invisible haha meanwhile he lies on his back on the wet grass of a stranger’s yard weaving a fast and futile dwelling from the earth what does it feel like to be held this way by the whole world pressing your back dew slicking your eyebrows thinking of your mother who is putting your baby girl to sleep your second grade teacher who framed your first poem your fourth grade teacher who told you you won’t be shit your sister who followed you from room to room wanting you to play with her your two cousins shot in the same week one in the pupil another in the lung and for a moment you nearly weep but no you lie perfectly still directly in the white beam of light rivulets running from magnolia leaves down your temples into the soil.
Added: Monday, January 28, 2019 / Used with permission. Shabnam Piryaei’s poem was awarded First Place in the 2019 Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Contest, sponsored by Split This Rock. Franny Choi lent her generous acumen as judge for the contest.
Described by the San Francisco Book Review as “a force to be reckoned with in literary circles,” Shabnam Piryaei is an award-winning poet, playwright, media artist, and filmmaker. In addition to authoring the books Nothing is Wasted (The Operating System, 2017), FORWARD (Museum Books, 2014), and ode to fragile (Plain View Press, 2010), she has written and directed three short films that have screened at film festivals and art galleries around the world. She has been awarded the Poets & Writers Amy Award, the Transport of the Aim Poetry Prize, the Brain Mill Press Editors’ Choice, an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, a Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance Grant, a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Grant, and a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. She’s currently an Assistant Professor at San Francisco State University. To learn more about her work, visit her website.