Momtaza Mehri

Award Speech.

Brando is nowhere to be found. He’s a rust of a man, most of the time.

Air too lush and still plump with his gel-scent, all his gelatine-smooth.

This hall misses him like an emptied palm. Too bad.

A slip of a woman takes the stage, in his mad-bad-cad name,

gracious in her rage. Her eyes take the shape of vowels,

rounded and necessary.

For the next forty three years, Hollywood bans any acceptance speeches

given by proxy.

Let’s share the lead weight of a tongue,

in protest.

‘What’s good?’ Minaj asks, throwing molten gold behind each ear.

Her fingers pluck a room’s bloated comfort out of itself.

A hair on each nape floats like a red flag

to our porcelain silences. Yummah loves how she snaps the air’s vertebrae,

flings the shards onto facing dinner plates. Be like that, she says

when I show her the clip. Give it to them. Do it twice over, just in case.

When you think of me, think of interruption. Think,

a catheter to the arm, gulping.

I am becoming an expert at ending things with a fanfare.

A boom-box deceleration to say this is where the hurt lives,

this is where the waiting left its teeth marks,

this is where forgiveness touched me

and left mid-way.




They warned me but you looked like Method Man in the Ice Cream video

The vampire in this story wears an Adidas Firebird fitted jacket,
his cape slung low
and hanging. A soft beat of padded sneakers
and another blood heart throbbing in his palm,
or is it the buzz of a dozen unreturned calls?

He walks like a mother’s held sigh.

Ever seen a man melt into a cab, black?
It’s the sight of a bat
wing unfurling into lashes
and razor burn.
I ignore mama’s voice.
Decide I want him.

A knife sliding into hot butter, sliding across a floor in socks.
Possibility is a novelty ringtone.
I think I want to be the cat he drags by the tail,
or the light streaming through his gap-toothed smirk
and the middle one, Midas-touched, better yet, like all that gold the eldest daughter inherits. .
Forgive me. This Omar Sharif-sized hole in my throat,
I can’t help it. My country or degree,
neither warms the bed.

I smell it on him, two streets away,
A youngest-son-of-immigrants scent
all that reckless and cardamom,
tells me you lie awake on powdered summer nights,
afraid your father will die before you make him proud.

Let’s trace our bloodline back to Sheba.

Or, alternatively,

            Let’s talk.



Momtaza MehriMomtaza Mehri is a poet currently in conversation with biomedicine, inheritance and her particular brand of transnational baggage. Her work has been featured and is forthcoming in Puerto Del Sol, ElsewhereLit, Cecile’s Writers, Sukoon, Bone Banquet, Public Pool, Poetry International, and other delights. She co-edits the digital space Diaspora Drama and has been shortlisted for the 2016 Brunel African Poetry Prize and Plough Prize. She is a fellow of The Complete Works national programme.




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