In an alternate universe we all park cars together • running back and forth between the keys and the ignition and the brake and the black box where we hang the keys • Carlos works with us in this universe • wide shouldered and heavy • smoking cigarettes when he can • he is blunt and funny cool • he’s like a bear with less layers • a warm winter • We say “Carlos, how’d you get so big?” and Carlos just says “pancakes” • Paul reads to us stanzas of abstract poetry • the kind that pull fishes into clouds but they are not fishes just words • leaves in these poems feel as if they never started out on a tree • Carlos asks “Why don’t you ever read us Pablo Neruda? That’s a poet” • Michael agrees • Instead Paul reads to us a new poem about a boat • We all can picture it burning in the air above our heads • It is red like our mothers’ love • We feel its heat
The four of us we are like four hills connected to one valley • and were the village in that valley sleeping with their ears to the floor they would hear us four hills talking and laughing under the sky • as the sky turns from azure to purple to orange • the sky is jealous of us • One can see this in the sky’s shoulders • We are always turning colors
Sometimes we bring our own lunch or dinner • sometimes we all get take-out together • burgers chinese tacos • When tacos Michael likes to put lime on them • Michael likes to put lime on everything • he says the food talks better • When Carlos gets a salad he puts salt and pepper on it • the pepper makes a thundering sound • When it rains the world outside the parking garage becomes something between a library and a movie theater • We are fountains watching not worrying about having to be wet • In this universe the streets are made of the same material as our left hands–glass • When one drives one can see through the glass to the center of the earth • when we put our hands over our hearts we can see through to each other’s chests
Anis Mojgani is a two time National Poetry Slam Champion, winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam, and multiple-time TEDx Speaker. He has been awarded residencies from the Vermont Studio Center, AIR Serenbe, and the Oregon Literary Arts Writers-In-The-Schools program. His work has appeared on HBO, NPR, and in the pages of such journals as Rattle, Forklift Ohio, Bat City Review, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Paper Darts, and Thrush. Anis is the author of four books, all published by Write Bloody Publishing: Songs From Under the River, The Feather Room, Over the Anvil We Stretch, and his latest, The Pocketknife Bible, an illustrated poetry-novel. He currently lives in Portland.