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Volume 4

Spring 2009


Noorulain Noor

Written by
Noorulain Noor

Noorulain is a member of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and a two time Pushcart Prize nominee. Raised in Lahore, Pakistan, she now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her poetry explores themes of identity, multiculturalism, and the immigrant experience. Noorulain has formerly worked as the Associate Editor and the Lead Poetry Editor of Papercuts magazine.


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Rotten Potatoes


I remember a story

My teacher told me

Of him and his wife,

When they were penniless,

Like us.

This couple with their ideals

And their baby fat intact,

Studying art and literature,

Survived on potatoes.

The woman with her Irish heritage

Inspired a poem in the man’s journal.

A sack of golden potatoes,

He called it.




Satisfying starch.

Enough to survive,

Enough to keep love afloat –

Golden potatoes –

But not for us.


We are neither as patient

Nor of controlled appetites.

We are not an exemplary

Young and broke couple.


We fight over the money

We don’t have.

I detest you because

I don’t make enough money.

You resent me because

You don’t make enough money for two.

There is no damn money

To buffer the imperfections

Between us.


Who said love is perfect?

But isn’t it charming –

This idea of a flawed love?

There is beauty in it

That I see in old Indian films,

Slight disagreements,

Domestic troubles,

And then evidently

A song-and-dance number.

Ah, this Utopian romance –

Rampant in vintage Bollywood.


Our fights are worse, darling,

Aren’t they?

You of your restricted rage,

My weak shell of pride,

Colliding. Making a mess of us.


I wrote in a slam book

At thirteen

That I would choose love

Over money.

I underlined love,

Once, twice, thrice,

And highlighted it in pink,

The branded color of girlhood.


Ask me one more time.

I rose above naivete

When you first told me

I was a burden.


Love doesn’t pay the bills.


You do.

And then you proceed to tell me

That you pay my bills

Out of the money

You don’t have.


Phantom money.

Phantom love.


All of it rotten.



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