Circumnavigating Heaven in Three Geographies – Khashayar Mohammadi

Grandma’s House

Grandma says Pomegranates are heavenly
that each holds a seed directly from Paradise
and she seeds painstakingly slow
Grandma’s no storyteller

one seed rolls onto the carpet
Blue paisley/ Red diamond
and I make a wish
crush it under my feet
and listen to the gentle static
of car tires on wet asphalt
a motorway behind every window


when B speaks of her drugs
I keep hearing the word “Heaven”
I sip “Heaven” from my pint of gin
and speak etymologies
say how in Farsi “Heaven”
is simply “Behesht”
akin to English “Best”
how “Heaven” is just us living our best lives
she cuts another line
and walks back into the crowd
her dime bag of coke
rolling onto wet asphalt

and I make a wish
crush it under my feet

Grandma’s House

Grandma’s redone her bathroom
the boredom of afternoon naps
and the chair I pulled up to
the red marble washbasin
white veins running
from basin to faucet
a callous road map against my bare skin

clawing flesh
a contemplation of “Heaven”:
an internal map
of all neurons that fire “Safety”

I open the palm of my hand
my inca-road wrinkles
under scrotal veins
and I let go
a pungent stream of piss
trickling over fingers
and down the drain
wash my hands till they wrinkle
walk onto Grandma’s balcony
where all the light in the world
seems to come from


Its only been a week
and we’ve filled a box
with our emptied bottles
I neck another Bombay Sapphire
not even noon yet
and walk into the brown sludge of autumn

B doesn’t know which way is home
I tell her we’ve walked a straight line
she still doesn’t know which way is home
we walk straight till we catch a reflection of the lake
a glint in the eyes of a wave leaning on the jetty
where all light seems to come from

I’m blinded by the light
guiding us home
guiding us through wet asphalt
back into “heaven”

Grandma’s House

Grandma needs to go to the store
says I can stay home alone
says it’ll just be a few minutes
locks the door behind her
and I run through the dark corridor
close the bedroom door
turn on all lights
and hide behind the bed
lean on the cast-iron radiator
let it burn fringes onto my spine
a five-lane motorway
to the emerald curtain above
whose heavy stagnation looms above
like grandma towering above groceries
with me 3 foot below
hand in hand
in constant collision with disembodied knees
and I claw into my flesh
to invoke and invoke and invoke
a pile of folded carpet
and I slide myself in between
trap myself under layers of warmth
a thin sliver of darkness in a brightly lit room
where Grandma can exist
without ever seeing me
womb nostalgia
birth phobia
car tires
rolling on pebbles
like the hissing and shushing
of waves crashing into rocky shores


B is moving away
and I chug my gin on the balcony
wobble around crying till she breaks down
screams me into a corner
and I melt into myself
empty out our closet
and step in
close the doors
B’s screams from outside the door
a thin slit of light from the balcony
where all light seems to come from
and I’m enveloped in viscous darkness
womb-nostalgia/ birth phobia
the amber current of my “heaven”
in veins
in implicit murmurs
of car engines purring around the corner

Grandma’s House

Grandma says
not to go near the ping pong tables
that its not safe
that she doesn’t trust the man who runs it
that no one in the area talks to him
and I go anyway
ask him for a ball
and he comes over
grabs my wrist
says he’ll coach me
grabs me from behind
each wrist in hand
and grinds left and right
Left and right
Ping and pong
Left and right
And I ping and pong
with a girl 5 years older
whose eyes know

I walk back home
I forget the man
I forget his touch
I forget his hip thrusts
but the girl’s eyes
fixed on mine
Not even looking at the ball
the closest I’ve been
to descending into
the smoke-filled garage of “Heaven”


B is gone
days begin with silence
everything in the house faces the lake
where all the light seems to come from

the first ray of sunlight tells me
I can’t crawl back into the kitchen
so I coil around myself
stare at the Television I can’t turn on
crave a cigarette
stare at the lighter I can’t reach
crave a drink
stare at the bottle I can’t reach
and sit
in the soft whisper of car tires
from somewhere behind
everywhere-I’ve-lived as a child
redeeming everyone-I’ve-loved-as-a-child
the buzzing silence
like all the afternoon naps I never took
and the five lane motorway
with asphalt crackling
hidden from sight
but ever present
always heard from behind
like the sour breath
breathing dew-drops onto my shoulder blades

I walk onto the balcony
where all light seems to come from
and stare down
and into the lake
and ache
to descend
into my best
Into my “heaven”


                                                   for Kirby

my head
weighing down
my limp body
fingertips searching body parts
I name them with eyes closed
“Nose”, “Cheek”, “Lip”
one by one
I learn body parts
speak to some for the first time

words embody
and I listen
pen in hand
list myself limb by limb
“Leg”, “Leg”, “Foot”
gentle swell of “Breast”
larger than most

In winter
the hardest feat is to stand
a body limp from gravity
“Hand”, “Leg”, “Mouth”
words are arbitrary
but we still use them wrong

Its dangerous
when words stop at sharing
Its dangerous
when words don’t inform

and my true form
shaped by words
my true figure
informed by shapes
my true shape
figured out and figured in
formed into a firm corpus
where thoughts flow body in
and life flows body out

bodies elocute louder than words
and we never listen
to limbs who break up
pursue solo careers in expression
while heads sit atop bodies
limp and flaccid

if my skin lies about me
then what of the nights
when all is sour but touch

It’s dangerous when words stop at catharsis
and I’m left bare on the bed
asking for a slap
to heat up the skin
so I can surface
to my “Heaven”

Khashayar Mohammadi @dearkestral is an Iranian born, Toronto-based Poet, Writer, Translator and Photographer. He is the author of poetry Chapbooks “Moe’s Skin” by ZED press 2018, and “Dear Kestrel” by knife | fork | book 2019. He is currently working on a full length collaborative poetry manuscript with Toronto poet Terese Pierre, as well as a full length poetry manuscript of his own.

Banner Image: “Radiance” Digital Drawing by Robert Frede Kenter Twitter: @frede_kenter

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