A celebration of Persian voices and talent

One Thousand and One Nights by Tracy Fuad


One Thousand and One Nights

by Tracy Fuad
“When did I begin to have preferences // And when did what I tended to draw nearer to begin to blur”

One Thousand and One Nights
by Tracy Fuad

I dreamt of this, yes, of a city in weather


Another place where I am indecipherable


A pen with loose ink in my hand


When did I begin to have preferences


And when did what I tended to draw nearer to begin to blur


In the time since the internet was released for use beyond the US military


A crystallizing sense of self


Even as a new ease pervades the city, the horror of the painted vine atop the medical complex


Tho the muted one


And from a balcony, a baby


And the small sound a person’s body makes in the moment just before they speak


The sea, consisting of meter


Tho my inability, when asked to explain what I mean by tone


As many nights as I have opened, I have closed


Sometimes the premise really is too much to bear


I’ve come to think that I prefer my hair unbrushed


Tho I bought one at the market after learning more of others’ habits


Here, a man opens a beer with a beer while holding his phone to his ear with his shoulder while walking, every object and body in use


Already, spent leaves drift on the poured cement sidewalk, fungally spotted


This unuprootable habit of ending with or, a softening at the end of every sentence


Or every sentence made exchangeable


Once, I had a lover who described the careful early touches as belonging to epistemology


A flat palm and investigative mode, which both excited and repulsed me


Here, infants in tights and fitted bonnets wander the streets like serfs gone small with age


At this fungible café


I feel myself a reptile


My little face reflected in between the endless stream of images which aim to hook me


How few words I manage to extrude.




Now the cherry blossoms wilt.


Now the chestnut blooms are wilting.


Now the azaleas are wilting.


Is that corn, Ali asks of grass which grows long on the street between us, and I break into cartoonish imitation of my native language.




Tho my mother’s mother’s remains remain at the morgue


Tho her death was in the summer, and again it’s summer


Once, I was moved to great emotion by the last hours of a market on the last day of the year


Then everything else happened


Today I wear a dress and trot alone at home, unsure of whether to go out


Tho everyone is out


The trees, I see, are thirsty, and I’d water them, but tonight there will be rain


I pant in hot excitement


I always say that I will stop this but I do not, leading me to ask who it is commanding me


Or, how many of me are there?


The smoke that I inhale clogs me, I can feel the clogging in the place from which speech starts


I take a lemon half to cure me


I fear I


Tho I’ve finally taken up art


I produce faint paintings and hang them before my tolerant partner, the jade


Furious rain in the wings


Against the hacking of the weed whacker, the neighbor over me sings classically


Sometimes I emit an aria unconsciously and sometimes, from above, she echoes me


Though I’ve never met her


Though the other neighbor, housebound, rings us daily, and I go to pick up dark bread for her


Again and again, I become hole


How many words can you spell with seven letters?


I cradle my handy, on average, 95 times in a day, press my special whorl to it to open




Open, Sesame


That old phrase a French Antoine inserted into tales he pulled from Arabic and sold


A node of traveling stories on which, as it crossed the continents, new layers accrued


Sesame, meaning fatty seed, from Akkadian šamaššamu


A crop grown at the margins where the other crops refused to grow


A seed that traveled fast as language


A seed that rang exotically to European ears


When I search the sesame seed I receive a local Keto store


Sesame, open yourself


Thou buff, tan or purple


Thou tubular flower, your four-lobed mouth


Wanton pod that bursts when ripe, resisting harvest, no wonder


I love you


The pod of me releasing my timed seeds in my very middle, familial gold around my neck


Sesame, open


Sesame, Sesame, close



about:blank, Tracy Fuad’s first book of poetry, won the Donald Hall Prize and was published in October by University of Pittsburgh Press. She is also the author of two chapbooks: PITH (Newfound, 2020) and DAD DAD DAD DAD DAD DAD DAD (TxtBooks, 2019). A graduate of the Rutgers-Newark MFA program, she is a 2021-22 Writing Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and lives in Berlin, where she teaches at the Berlin Writers’ Workshop.

AUTHOR PHOTO BY Carleen Coulter • FEATURED IMAGE by Kazuo Ota via Unsplash