Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad





Blotchy witness, 

smaller mollusk;

you saw

the whole thing

for two years, 

that maroon skin

like dried blood 

sucking glass


as if the tank

was his new body;

all those jelly legs

like ribbons 

to gift-wrap

his own muscles

thrusting against

clear walls


for nothing;

his style not a glide

through sham tides, 

but a bored crawl

to surrender;

so it must have

surprised you, right,

when he elbowed 


the unlatched cover

to drag himself,

ink-filled across


feet of wood splinters, 

squeezed himself, 

that basketball head

through a six-inch hole


down fifty-five yards

of tunnel,

almost like a ready

fetus pushing out

of its basin into

a new ocean,

and you watched them

celebrate, headlining


your fugitive friend

who popped

a gap of light

made by an undid lid,

wrote a victory song

from the rough slurp

of suction cups

while his keeper said


we know

he was happy here;

so what

were you thinking

staying behind,

a viscous form

made perfect

to morph yourself


into escape

and relief; 

like you,

he, too, 

was made

this way,

all boneless 

and without spine 


Mehrnoosh's poetry has appeared in The Missing Slate, Passages North, HEArt Journal Online, Pinch Journal, and is forthcoming in Natural Bridge and Painted Bride Quarterly. She is the poetry editor for Noble / Gas Quarterly, and a 2016 Best of the Net nominee. Mehrnoosh lives in New York and practices matrimonial law.