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POETRY I BY ZARA HOUSHMAND LIVE MUSIC CAPITAL OF THE WORLD Mid-distance, two frogs triangulate a cricket’s tinny washboard in syncopated time. Far off, a muted coo returns a mate’s persistent call. Another, nearer, louder, flaunts his licks. Right here, the fan wheels tight intervals of rub and squeal. Scattered applause from the prodigal grackles, talentless, resting on the rim of the bowl of silence. Soft and steady brushing on the drumhead of breath. THE DISILLUSION OF THE PINATA It was hard to learn that the rainbow idol demon doll, all mask and no meat, pregnant with promises high out of reach, would have to be battered to death as it smiled, jerky on the teasing noose. And for all that gruesome cost, no wild burst but a trickle from a broken limb. Harder still when I was called upon to serve as executioner. Blind and dizzy, I swung wide; another year older, two flavors of shame. MAMA AND BABA Eighty-odd years of wandering Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, the caravan has dumped them now a few blocks beyond Burnet. Baba rakes leaves on the front lawn while Mama stomps the growing pile, in up to her knees, the pain for a moment forgotten, as they laugh like young lovers in an old land, with all the future of the wine still to come. ZAHA HOUSHMAND is an Iranian-American writer living in Austin. Her most recent book, A Mirror Garden, coauthored with Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, was published in June by Knopf. Naomi Shihab Nye MAY 16, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23