Tuesday, January 22, 2008

being iranian here

Try taking the name “Grinch”
at your next business convention,
write it with marker on a name tag:
wait for their eyes to find it,
widen, then hide the reaction
in supply-chain chit-chat.

No: this is not quite like
saying you’re from
Iran. For after the supply-chain talk dies
their faces redden, they avoid
looking at you, and drift off
to hiss “Grinch Baker? Did you fuckin’
see her name?” to each other.

Being Iranian in America
is deadly serious business. Try again.
Get a new tag. Change your
last name to
“Hitler.” Wait for it
now. It’s coming. Eyes widen. That’s
right: I’m Samantha Hitler.

Smell the fright. Are my
shoes made of human skin?

No. Its still not quite
right. Hitler is a ghost
of pure evil. He’s gone. Iran, though,
threatens our existence,
our double latte I-pods,
our GPS Jesus golden-haired,
the rag striped and starred,
our good-hearted folk
pushing meat on grills
marinated in Ro-Gain and Omega-3,
our vital youths slacking
and humping
in a delectable chocolate sauce.

Iran is mean. Iran will do
us in for sure. Iran’s vaunted navy
of motor boats
will round the Horn
towing ninja jihadi water skiers
and aim for Miami’s hottest clubs.
Helium birthday balloons with anthrax
will burst over Toledo.
Guinea pigs programmed to gnaw
will do incalculable
ankle damage. I know you, Iran.

I’m serious.
Write “Hi, I’m from Iran,”
and you will not get a normal
conversation or undarting eyes
no matter how plain or bald you are.
Our media is good, Iran. It
gets the job done. Its been
there, done that.
The name “Iran” has been
made a yellow Star of David
sewn onto the identities
of Iranians here
without touching their clothes,
or skin, or troublesome legal issues.

If you were Iranian in
America you would be happy
to change this devil’s mark
for the name “Grinch”
or “Hitler.” Or "Manson."
The next time a Wall Street analyst says
I’m from Persia
smile and say you’re sorry
they’ve been marked, say
if you were made executive
assistant under-deputy secretary of domestic
affairs in the State Department
you’d pull the levers of power
for them, you’d let Ahmedinejad
come over for ping-pong
on Jerry Springer,
you’d let “Survivor: Iran” on the air.
You’d let the banal
be seen. You’d
let the fear machine
stall at the light
and get out. You’d throw the key

You’ll see, Iran. Ameri-can.

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