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Fall/Winter 07/08 Edition
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Author: Persis Karim
Location: Berkeley, California

Persis Karim teaches literature and creative writing at San Jose State University. She is the editor and contributing poet to Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora (2006). She lives in the People's Republic of Berkeley with her husband and two sons. Visit her at: http://www.persiskarim.com.



Lapidation

The stones weep:
tired boulders give way
to erosion, small
smaller rocks enlisted
in acts of treachery
against women condemned
for wandering.

Who thought of this thing
called “stoning”?

At first it was an innocent thing:
the stone handled by children,
collected by rockhounds
looking for the marvelous thunderegg,
the sparkle of gold or
the shock of geology
eruptions in Paleozoic
times.

Now the stone is a weapon
in the palm of meanness,
ideology, wrapped in piety,
raw hatred
catapulted
from lean hands
of blackness.

Who doesn’t like the stone
when it’s wielded
by a kid seeking revenge on a neighbor
that shatter of glass
windows where the bully lives?

Or when it is the symbol
of Resistance, heaved against
the mighty Goliath,
whose tanks and pointed guns
roll over the earth?

Stones are the only answer
the occupier fears more
than a gun--
children and grownups side by side
lifting from dust the broken land,
a small harvest that replaces
the abundance of olives,
plentiful and righteous.

But these stones in piles
mounted like cannonballs
fit to kill—are someone else’s
rocks. They are the heads of the dead
men haunting,
hard skeletons that bleed
white and dry
dust that breaks
and smothers the breath.





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