Rooja Mohassessy is an Iranian-born poet and educator. She is a MacDowell Fellow and an MFA graduate of Pacific University Oregon. Her debut collection When Your Sky Runs Into Mine won the 22nd Annual Elixir Poetry Award and was released by the press in February 2023. Her poems and reviews have appeared in Narrative Magazine, Poet Lore, RHINO Poetry, Southern Humanities Review, CALYX Journal, Ninth Letter, Cream City Review, The Adroit Journal, New Letters, The Florida Review, Poetry Northwest, The Pinch, The Rumpus, The Journal, and elsewhere.

Bahman Mohassess (1931-2010) was born in Rasht, a city by the Caspian sea. On the paternal side, he was descendent of the Moghul Dynasty and the Ghadjars from the maternal side. As a young painter, Mohassess was apprenticed to Seyyed Mohammed Habib Mohammedi. He continued his artistic education in Tehran and in Rome.  After the toppling of the Pahlavi dynasty, he lived in exile in Rome. His oeuvre comprises paintings, sculptures, and collages. He was also a celebrated translator of literary works. Many of his public works in Iran were destroyed during the Islamic Revolution, with the artist subsequently destroying many of his remaining works in Iran.

for fariba
When he said
they’re deaf, dumb
and blind so they will not return,

God meant had we died
in her arms,
              my mother would’ve carried on
spoon-feeding until certain
we were safely enshrined,
              our halos on exhibit.
Nor did she turn to salt—
even now she looks back though unsure
of what exactly was looted the year the milk
of the rubber tree on the back porch dried up.
She couldn’t hear but they carried away
              the grating rattle of her pots,
              giggles that died
              at dinner. Hunger
stayed and reached with our thin manacled mouths
for rationed wafers that perched
higher on the shelf where nothing
              wished to be disturbed.
It wasn’t like an earthquake—
my mother couldn’t hear the night sky
              rip into starry strips,
              she felt the warheads rumble,
              listened with her feet
she kept flat under the table.
With two gold bangles chiming
on each of our wrists and the double-strand
              of jasmine wilting on our chests
my mother had meant to say
              we were believers
              though she’d never read the Qur’an
              nor heard the azan.

Tamer Said Mostafa (he/him/his) is an Arab-American, Muslim poet and storyteller from Stockton, California. His work has appeared in literary journals and magazines such as Zone 3, Confrontation, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and Freezeray among others. Tamer is a Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee, and a graduate of the Creative Writing program at University of California, Davis where he won the Lois Ann Lattin Rosenberg Contest for Poetry. His debut, full length book of poetry, Where Will I Find America? was released in Summer, 2021. Tamer lives life through spirituality, community work, and the music of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.”

Horniness Holiness on a Ramadan Morning

prayer, fried fava bean falafel
transfuses us and our onset of famine.
You light a sandalwood candle
and choke the matchstick’s head
with absolution. I become orgasmic,
my awning unleashes morphemes
from such nearsightedness.
Your toes
pulsating the silk tassels that bore worship
as submissive as it was
We can be carnal and raw all at once,
erupting each other’s palate into higher beings
so the hereafter doesn’t forget us.