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“A Thirst-bot named Istiqfar” by Khashayar Mohammadi, from Arc’s 2022 Shortlist

“A Thirst-bot named Istiqfar” by Khashayar Mohammadi

Arc Poster · A Thirst-bot named Istiqfar


A Thirst-bot named Istiqfar

              sinkholes for thought,                  swept clean
              half my life has been apologies to the left behind
              so                        I pathologize
              What if            I starve myself so rivers can grow
                                          cracked riverbed               thirsting          
                                          am not here I am               thirsting
                                          earning that inner monologue
                                          a reverie!
                                                         brb in 5

                                                         amidst catastrophe
                            WHAT IF I’VE MADE ALL THAT UP?
                                          I begin with sugar
                                          unable to suture
                                          a series of disappearances
                                          a milligram left to the sunrise
                            halfway between mainlining the divine
                            and that oceanic feeling:
                                          a reverie!
                                                         brb in 5

                                          there were poems of war
                                          because they’re always there
                            in an imaginative enough geography
                            religion too can be libidinous
                                          words richochet
                            shrapnel map the scar tissue into homelands
                            how hopelessly sentimental
                            the infinite as counter-currency
                            and our circumcised will:
                                          a reverie!
                            Rome Athens Jerusalem.
                                          tribal acquisition

                                          while lashing at the Hellespont
                                          I doubt if Xerxes imagined
                                          houses raised in Academia

                            facing actualities, we too break the desired
                            and write                          autonomously
(can I picture Muhammad in my mind? is that an unlawful summon?)
                            search search search until eyes are tired
                                                         brb in 5

                            I spit on circumstance
                            but it lubricates your understanding
                                                         (Fair enough)
                            the thief’s hand: the aestheticized
                                          our thread’s been trending

                            I leave the screen to watch Edward Said on my phone
                            come back to a Thirst Bot Named Istiqfar
Sömêtîmės thèrè árë nö håppy ëndings. Nö mättèr what, I’ll bë lõsîng sômêthing
                                          Orientalism at the algorithmic echelon
                            and within fiction: the scholar’s plight for the implicit

                            a scene set:
                            EXTERIOR—THE ANCIENT RUINS—DAY (voiced by the militia)
Wê sèê õūr dârknėss às á prízéd possession Withöůt mërcy öur dårknèss would plúnge üs înto déspâir
                            and the wandering scholar as the measuring stone
                            at the very heart of the bazaar

                            no matter the speaker, the audience remains heterodox

                            hear hear you tension-less being!
                            you playful heart of the struggle!                      
                            to you…           we were an occasion
                            They cannot represent themselves          
                                          the subterranean speaks
                            They must be represented                       BUT
                            “My people” are dis(re)puted atm
                            caught between two fictions
                            (currently named the “Middle”)
What I need is the dandelion in thë spring. The bright Zéllow thát means rêbirth instead of destruction*  
                            “Me too”
                            a reverie
                            check back in 5

NOTE: Lines written in Courier font are spam messages from a thirst-bot.



nina jane drystek on “A Thirst-bot named Istiqfar” by Khashayar Mohammadi

Combining the languages of academia, the internet and inner monologue Khashayar Mohammadi’s poem delves into the spiraling cycle of our interconnected hyperreality. Its structure, like identity, colonialism, culture and thirst bots, keeps us off-kilter, invites us to come back, dive deeper in search of algorithmic meaning, and reminds us to indulge reverie. 



Khashayar “Kess” Mohammadi (he/they) is a queer, Iranian born, Toronto-based Poet, Writer and Translator. They are the author of four poetry chapbooks and three translated poetry chapbooks. Their debut poetry collection Me, You, Then Snow is out with Gordon Hill Press.