Bad News for Bigots

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Fomalhaut, from fum al-haut, or
mouth of the whale, or

the deserted star in the southern
autumn sky, and

Betelgeuse, from bait al-jauza, or
house of Orion, or

red supergiant
and ninth brightest, and

Achernar, from akhir un-nahr, or
end of the river, or

least spherical
and bluest in color, and

Dubhe, from kahil ud-dubb, or
back of the bear, or

one of the Pointers
to Polaris, and

Shaula, also from Arabic,
ash-shawlah, for raised tail,

scorpion’s curl—
all gleam in the American night,

visible to the naked eye;
isn’t it marvelous

when Western astronomers
first identified them,

these stars, like hundreds of others
responded in Arabic;

isn’t it wonderful
no bitter torch can dim them,

unmoved when a spiteful voice
tells them to speak English,

isn’t it just stellar
no bigoted ballot can inch their hover,

that looking downward
is the only way to avoid their fire

Bad News for Bigots by Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad


Image of the Fomalhaut star system available here.

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About Author

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Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad was born and raised in New York. Her poetry has appeared in The Missing Slate, Passages North, HEArt Journal Online, Pinch Journal, and is forthcoming in Painted Bride Quarterly. She is the poetry editor for Noble / Gas Qtrly, and a Best of the Net, Pushchart Prize, and Best New Poets nominee. She currently lives in New York where she practices matrimonial law.

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