Mountain photo

Made You Mine America



This is an excerpt from Ali Zarrin's "Made You Mine America" published by Alien Books, Highlands Ranch, Colorado:

in the poems of Walt Whitman
Langston Hughes
Allen Ginsberg
the songs of Woody Guthrie
and Joan Baez
I made you mine

rushing to you
at night and daybreak
by air and water--
on the land
getting a social security number
in the year nineteen hundred seventy
working the grave
yard shift for ITT
a teenager four levels below the ground
a cashier in a three by eight booth
under the Denver Hilton Hotel
sheltering derelicts
who slept on beds
of cardboard and newspaper
pillows of shoes
my young body luring
late night prostitutes and transvestites
hip to my accent
the midnight thief
pouring mace in my eyes
up the long ramp

passing through barbed wires
and waiting for hours in the INS lobbies
facing grouchy secretaries
overwhelmed by the languages
they can't speak and accents
they can't enjoy
becoming naturalized
in the year of bicentennial celebration

the migration of my parents
to your welfare state
of millions living
in tenement housing
reeking with the smell of urine
and cheap liquor

the US of A
as large as Whitman's green mind
white beard and red heart
from the Deadman's Pass rest area
on the old Oregon Trail
to the Scenic Overlook at Dixie line, Maryland
from White Spot--Albuquerque
to Cafe Rose--Arlington
from Gate's Rubber Factory--Denver
to AC Rochester--Flint from Boulder High School
to the University of Washington
from Mountain Home--Idaho
to Rockford--Illinois
as large as Mark Twain's laughter and irony
tear-drop by tear-drop
from YMCA's casket-size single rooms
in Brooklyn
San Francisco
to Denver's Republic Hotel
corner of 15th and California
the home of broken old men
and women subsisting on
three hundred sixty four dollars
social security checks

waiting on
Denver oilmen in the Petroleum Club
Nights of Jazz at El Chepultepek
the Larimer of the past
where Arapahoes lived in their
tepees and now sleep
on the sidewalks
with battered lips
and broken heads

going door to door on Madison Ave, Seattle
selling death insurance
for American National
servicing houses of bare minimum--
a TV and a couch
drunken men and women
lonely ailing old African
women making quilts
selling each
for fifty dollars

marrying a teacher
a third generation auto worker
whose parents shared crops
in Caraway, Arkansas

fathering two tender boys
born in America
with their blue and brown eyes
half origins
of Asiatic Caucasianness

for teachers
babysitting bored Middle School children
driving them
home in a school bus
teaching your youth
to write English
and speak Persian

your children
hating your aggression
you aligned yourself with the worst
of my kind
exiled my George Washington--
Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq
helped Saddam bomb my birthplace
destroy the school of my childhood
his soldiers swarming the hills of Charzebar
where as a child I hunted
with my grandfather
sold arms to warmongers
who waged battles on grounds
that my great-grandfather made
fifteen pilgrimages on foot
to Karbala

now I lay claim
to your Bill of Rights
and Declaration of Independence.

I came to you
not a prince
who had lost his future throne
not a thief finding
a cover in the multitude
of your metropolis
hiding behind your volumes of law
not a merchant dreaming of exploiting
your open markets
not a smuggler
seeking riches overnight
but a green-horn seventeen year-old
with four hundred dollars
after dad sold his prized Bretta
and mom some of her wedding jewelry
with a suitcase of clothes
and books--
Baba Taher
and a small Koran--
my grandmother's gift
not to conquer
Wall Street
or Hollywood
I came to you to study
to learn
and I learned
you can't deny me parenthood
I lost my grand parents
while roaming your streets
traveling across your vastness
you can't turn me down
I gave you my youth
walking and driving Colfax nights long
I came with hate
but now
I love you

Copyright 1996 by Ali Zarrin

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Medieval Persian Epigrams
Translated by Dick Davis