Category Archives: Fiction

Slant News: The Iran Expert

The excerpt below originally appeared on Slant.

  • Dr. Amirahmadi is a pleasant, unassuming man with sharp eyes and an even sharper sense of style. One might guess that Amirahmadi is a successful academic by his classy threads and bespectacled countenance, but it’s not initially obvious that the Iranian American was once the man to talk to if anyone from the U.S. government wanted to talk to Iran.

    It was the middle of the disastrous Iran-Iraq War that Amirahmadi first became heavily involved in Iranian affairs. The war was triggered in 1980 after Iran’s Islamic Revolution, when Saddam Hussein, a Sunni presiding over the secular Ba’athist government in Iraq, invaded the Shia-led Islamic Republic of Iran with material support from the U.S.

    Brutal fighting raged for the next eight years, leaving millions dead and dealing a disproportional blow to Iran, both in financial and human costs.

    “In 1986, I was invited to Iran to participate in a conference on post-war reconstruction,” Amirahmadi said in an interview with Slant. “I was the first — absolute first — Iranian academic expatriate to return.”

    He recalled touring the wreckage in devastated Iranian towns and villages. For three consecutive years Amirahmadi returned, each time taking in the massive scale of damage done to Iran during that war. On his final visit, the government invited him to deliver a lecture on a geopolitical theory he had developed, which would later be seized upon as a justification for ending the war with Iraq.

    Read more on Slant!

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Plague of Pride

As a plague unto the world,
from atop inhospitable peaks,
a wicked rage unfurled and
came forth to proclaim superiority.
Fiction flags then built
a network of their Colonies,
and not an ounce of guilt
accompanied wretched policies.

How little men remember
of yesterday’s deceit
,
in the frigid dead December
of modernity’s defeat.
Humanity that were stripped
of it’s natural dignity,
too easily eclipsed
by our incivility.

When Brothers become alien
there can never be a Peace,
for hate is seed of warfare;
sowing season not to cease

Election Season Comes But All Too Often

The morning was overcast, and eventually the rain came. And then it went. They say a hurricane is on its way, but the sun has fought back the storm at least for now – still, the clouds are lingering. There’s a strange calm that signals we’re on the fringes, for sure. I can feel it in my bones. Some primal beast inside of me can feel the savage movements of nature. There’s a sudden rush deep down when the winds finally pick up and lightning zips through the clouds as if they were a convict taking his seat for the last time.

Everyone can feel that we’re on the cusp. The telltale anxiety and adrenaline underlie every interaction. We all know that something isn’t quite right. That something is just beyond the horizon; something big.

Obama and Christie feign respect in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

The animals in Washington are ramping up their propaganda machines for mid-terms this fall and the 2016 presidential chatter is becoming more prevalent. It’s already starting to feel like campaign season with the ideologies on full display. Here in New Jersey things have been steamy for a while. On-going controversy surrounding the governor hasn’t helped the massive budget shortfall, but it did give him a chance to prove his faithfulness to the GOP by squashing the Democrats’ attempt to raise taxes on millionaires. So, the early stumbling out of the gates for Christie 2016 has a silver lining – at least for the short term. And Christie’s total pig-headedness is a boon for any Republican candidate these days. Bombastic arrogance scores almost as many points with the Republican faithful as AR-15s, or Jesus Christ. The recent showdown might not be such a bad thing to have on your resume when the crowded GOP primary finally comes. But good old Chris using the Port Authority as one of his foot soldiers and reneging on the state’s pension obligations may not be a good track record to bring into a general election. And he’ll be competing in a packed field of diverse philosophies as the Republicans try and put their identity crisis to bed once and for all.

Hillary is unamused.

On the other side of the aisle it already feels like Hillary Clinton is the candidate. The Democrats seem more or less committed to the idea that she’ll be the standard bearer in the next contest. There certainly is a lot of time, but it’s hard to see anybody posing a legitimate threat to her campaign. The blue strategists are adamant – America is ready for a woman to lead her to war. There will be more challengers that come out of the woodwork as things develop of course, but it’s doubtful that they will dislodge Clinton, whose only weakness is a relatively defensible calamity that took place in Libya. It’ll ding her, but it will take more than that to keep Hillary from restoring the Clintons to the White House. Clinton will have to keep her hawkish tendencies under the radar for long enough to keep her liberal base in her corner. But, if Elizabeth Warren jumps in Hillary may have to scramble to make up the difference.

But this isn’t about early projections and predictions of who will be facing off in the far away general election. As the primaries draw nearer we will inevitably start hearing people echo those all too common words: “I’m only voting for blank because I can’t stand blank,” as they always do. Like clockwork, a fairly good cross section of people with different political convictions and various intelligences will utter this statement of uncloaked apathy.

And this apathetic approach is well justified.

In the last 15 years, Americans have had to stand face to face with the reality of the Dream. Many have responded by retreating into a strange patriotic fervor. I believe the folks at AA call this ‘denial.’ Still, the political efficacy of the American electorate seems to be dismal. Nobody seems to have much faith in the government, and the polls show it. And why should we? As if the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq weren’t bad enough, Americans watched in dismay as two presidents from two different parties sold the country out to the bankers and constructed a harrowing surveillance state that spans the entire globe. It’s no wonder Americans feel unrepresented in their capitol. Top that all off with the era of inconceivably large campaign contributions and the systematic neutering of the American press — the public has good reason to believe it has essentially been shut out of the process. Our democracy is not functioning.

This is the sentiment behind the apathy in peoples’ voting decisions. It’s a general discontent that is being directed mainly at one party or the other, instead of at the establishment that empowers them both. This is not such a bad thing. It is this sort of discontent that gives rise to great social movements. In fact, it would be more worrying if people weren’t agitated – given the state of affairs at home and abroad it would be insane to be calm. Focusing the public frustration upon the real source of our problems is the biggest challenge facing the United States. The key is to collectively realize that it’s not about which party you support, it’s about the values you hold. We have to ask, “Are our values being represented by our political leaders?” Disagreeing about how to achieve those values is one thing; strong, contentious debate is necessary in a democracy. But the current divisions between the American people are the reasons our democracy has been wrested from us. Bridging the gaps that we’ve built between ourselves will not come easily, but it must be done if we will once again have a government by the people, and for the people.

As I sit on this grassy hill a flash of lightning touches down off in the distance. The star spangled banners that surround me are starting to flap a little harder, a bit faster. Thunder rolls overhead and I can feel the ground rumbling as the first few drops of cool water land on my wrist. Something big is coming, and it’s bubbling just underneath the surface.

I can only smile. I love this weather.

A Nice Bit of Hyperfiction

I wrote this story for recreation a week ago, and I figured it wasn’t half-bad. Decided to put this 300 or so word puppy up here for public discourse. Please, criticism is very welcome.

The Inevitability of Genius

He started with a pencil and a journal, and when he had finished Vincenzo had unraveled all the mysteries of the universe. He single-handedly cured cancer and AIDS, unlocked the truth of the mysterious origins of life and developed an alternative energy that was not just clean, but actively purified the atmosphere. He wrote the greatest story ever written and produced thousands of splendid poems. He admonished the wicked, exalted the good and proved once and for all which was which. He had tested and retested his hypotheses and researched every subject known to man to ensure total accuracy.

The moment Vincenzo was finished editing his tome he immediately set to work reproducing it. One billion ink cartridges perished in order to lend their precious toner to blank pages, giving Vincenzo’s words a greater voice with each copy. Once he had no more room to store the books he went about circulating them. He left a crate at town hall and Brannigan Square. He brought several copies to all his neighbors and asked them to pass a few on; they all kindly obliged. When visitors would pass through town he would give them two crates for free and even suggest they charge a small price – all profit – in order to spread the news further.

Everyone had a copy and everyone agreed; Vincenzo’s words were pure genius. The book of all human history had arrived and its conclusions were remarkable. The revelations it provided were so profound, so plain and honest, that it was as if the answers to the most puzzling questions had always been right before them and yet they could not see it until now. Except the details were never really discussed, and everybody was greatly relieved by that…

…because no one had bothered to read the book.