115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Poems from Malak

Jenny Sadre-Orafai, Kennesaw State University

Jenny Sadre-Orafai is the author of Paper, Cotton, Leather, Malak, and five chapbooks. Recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Cream City Review, Ninth Letter, The Cortland Review, and The Pinch. She is co-founding editor of Josephine Quarterly and an Associate Professor of English at Kennesaw State University.


Jenny Sadre-Orafai is the author of PaperCotton, LeatherMalak, and five chapbooks. Recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Cream City ReviewNinth LetterThe Cortland Review, and The Pinch. Her prose has appeared in The Collagist, The Rumpus, Los Angeles Review, The Toast, and South Loop Review. She is co-founding editor of Josephine Quarterly and an Associate Professor of English at Kennesaw State University.




Dents in a window pause

at thunder and cross this

quiet horse. Draw him afraid

of an audience or that

best stable overrun with

hay and bridles and carrots

and tails swaying to what.

Then let him graze.




I don’t have to tell you

that uncooked yolks

in the sunlight cancel

each other out always.

Practice scale. Now

suffering. Finally, heal.



You must drive a machine

to freedom. Its purpose

dissolves under foot.

Take back the factories

I say. Rush into them

and rescue the worker.




Conduct a wetless

seashore, no one

suffering. No

tight water. We aren’t

up to our necks in the





You are a coat on water,

your own exhibit.


Your rabbit-heart is a prayer.


Blank nature is something

to steal, how you know fear.




Electric, you are the sure

vice, the important hands,

what will invite the talking.




Your daughter is

your daughter because

she calls you

mother deer.




A blank picture

of a fire burning

is just bones broke.




A blank sound

when your daughter sees

a chick hatch from an egg

for the first time, her open

mouth cried





A blank body

when somebody

grabs at your coat again.

You reach for the wool hem,

this belongs to me.





I'll send a fox to my daughter. It will nest in her hair,

my heaviest sleeping girl, large heart outside my body.


She will shove it away, look for me in her tin box

for necklaces I circled her with when she was a cricket.


She’ll drink water from a bottle too tight at the lip.

She’ll draw my face on the wall and tell it everything.




When I miss her, I open my popout map. Spilling my face

into Tehran streets, I hide in Laleh Park. Read street names

aloud like I’m reporting to someone. I pretend to see things

no one else can—who took the Peacock Throne, how

the burnt city fell. I say Karaj like I’m telling the future.