an on-line poetry magazine
for the 21st century


Rooja Mohassessy


Bless the three ironed sheets
of kafan, armfuls of chrysanthemums
siphoning ice water, sons and daughters
rescued from morgues before the midnight arrival
of basiji bodysnatchers. Bless the blocks of ice
on the backs of scooters, bless the back roads
cleared of bodies, the silence nightly broken.
Bless each death wish
escaping after half a century from gagged
mouths. Hear the momentum carry
on wings of rhyme!

Bless the winter chill, it sharpens
the ululation of mothers
in mourning, bless the axe,
the splintered ice, preserving sons
and daughters in bathtubs.

The basiji breath labors
through the night to seep through
the landline, the deadbolt.
Bless the passing
of the night, the light.

At dawn the earth cradles
to receive a child,
a mother’s hand scattering
her first handful of dust.

note: During the recent uprisings in Iran which followed the death of Mahsa Amini, bodies of protesters were stolen from morgues and buried in secret to avoid further escalation of the revolt.

ROOJA MOHASSESSY is an Iranian-born poet and educator. She is a MacDowell Fellow and MFA graduate of Pacific University, Oregon. Her debut collection When Your Sky Runs Into Mine (Feb ‘23) was winner of the 22nd Annual Elixir Poetry Award. Her poems and reviews have appeared in Narrative Magazine, Poet Lore, RHINO Poetry, Southern Humanities Review, CALYX Journal, Ninth Letter, The Adroit Journal, New Letters, Florida Review, Cream City Review, Poetry Northwest, The Pinch, The Rumpus, The Journal, and elsewhere.