Published on Academy of American Poets (

Deception Story


Friends describe my DISPOSITION

as stoic. Like a dead fish, an ex said. DISTANCE

is a funny drug and used to make me a DISTRESSED PERSON,

one who cried in bedrooms and airports. Once I bawled so hard at the border, even the man with the stamps and holster said Don’t cry. You’ll be home soon. My DISTRIBUTION

over the globe debated and set to quota. A nation can only handle so many of me. DITCHING

class, I break into my friend’s dad’s mansion and swim in the Beverly Hills pool in a borrowed T-shirt. A brief DIVERSION.

My body breaking the chlorinated surface makes it, momentarily, my house, my DIVISION

of driveway gate and alarm codes, my dress-rehearsed DOCTRINE

of pool boys and ping pong and water delivered on the backs of sequined Sparkletts trucks. Over here, DOLLY,

an agent will call out, then pat the hair at your hot black DOME.

After explaining what she will touch, backs of the hands at the breasts and buttocks, the hand goes inside my waistband and my heart goes DORMANT.

A dead fish. The last female assist I decided to hit on. My life in the American Dream is a DOWNGRADE,

a mere DRAFT

of home. Correction: it satisfies as DRAG.

It is, snarling, what I carve of it alone.


From Look by Solmaz Sharif, published by Graywolf Press. Copyright © 2016 by Solmaz Sharif. Used with permission of Graywolf Press.

About this Poem

“That immigration policy remains about maintaining the racial hygiene of this nation and I remain among its unhygienic, that every movement, every line of my life is interrupted and violated by state-sponsored language, and that it is possible to sublimate, sometimes weakly, sometimes forcefully, this woe of being born somehow ‘wrong,’ somehow messing up the neatly categorized and performed national picture into the most glorious bird to flip and flit is what drove this poem.”
—Solmaz Sharif


Solmaz Sharif

Solmaz Sharif  is the author of Customs (Graywolf, 2022) and Look (Graywolf, 2016). She is the recipient of fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation.

Date Published: 2017-03-23

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