“Golden Shiraz” and “You Killed My Mother”

In Poetry by Amy Pugsley

Golden Shiraz

Everyone here lives in the past

In a golden age of bliss

Living in our own versions of the past

Living in a version of what it all meant

Ghosts of what once was

Before the revolution

Before the loss

Before we packed our bags and left

Before, before, before

When we were all made of gold....

A generation of people lives in the past

The people of once, the people of then, the people of before

Gripping to a life they, we, I, us, once had

Remembering the life of their fathers

Obsessing over the days of their grandfathers

How did we get stuck in a reverie?

Stuck in a slow dance

Taking a forever sip of tea from the samovar

Waiting for something to resonate

Waiting to say, this is from home

Waiting to show how once, just once, we were all made of gold....

The past is where the air was magic

The past is where we were free

Before the divide

Before the tyranny

Where the gold and the miniskirts were normal and so were we

When we didn’t have to say we were Christians, Muslims, and Jews

When we didn’t have to explain that we were Assyrians, or Persians, or Iranians

Before we had to move around the world and make new homes with rugs on the wall

Rice cooking slowly in the kitchen

Incense burning

Cups of shiraz overflowing in Shiraz

Ladies dancing in the streets

Before we had to explain what we were and why we came

When we were all made of gold....

We left wearing all of our family’s gold

We went to the far corners of the world to start new

We pretended the palms of California were the palms of Shiraz

We pretended the snow of Toronto was the snow of Tabriz

We live in the past

When we were free

Before, before, before

When we were golden....

You Killed My Mother

I know it was you.

You killed my mother.

You're free. She isn't.

She’s gone.

I’m gone.

Your face, your hair, your voice... all embedded into my memory.

Like red wine on the Persian rug.

Your story is now my story.

Sandalwood, vanilla, prostitute.

That first day you appeared, I remember it like a picture.

The borrowed white suburban, the snow, the cold and your stupid questions.

You wanted a job.

You asked if it was a family business.

You knew.

Snow falling slowly in the back alley.

Go to the liquor store.

I should have known.

White, bright, slippery, unfathomable.

Smoking shisha as if the magic of the Middle East would set us free.

How perfect it all was, we were perfect.

Weren’t you from the Middle East too?

Go to the liquor store.

Grape mint please, double apple please.

Time was still and perfect.



A blur that you made stand still and then stop.

Your hair, your seduction, your lies.

The darkness of the basement after hours.

Go to the grocery store.

Should I have known?

The cars in the back ally, leaves on the street, I can see it now.

Cigarette smoke.


Slowly you slipped in between the cracks.

Cracks between the spaces between the back stairs.

Spaces between the smoke rings.

Your breath, your breasts, your hips, your arrogance.

You knew.

You knew all along.

Slowly you acted and the grip tightened.

You wanted him and it killed her.

Is it a family business you asked?

I was stupid and high.

I know it was you.

You killed her slowly.

Slower than onions cooking in the kitchen.

Slower than a camel in the desert.

Slower than the years past from Africa to Europe to Canada.

Slow like a shot of gin. The slow taste of a cold domestic beer.

Slow, so slow.


Like ... a piece of a body being torn open.

Loud, hot, slow, smoky.

Killed her with each kiss, killed her with each lie you told.

You came each night with your suitcases of baggage.

Inserted yourself there like smoke through the cracks in the wall.

Your kid, your problems, your past and your thick black heart.

Dark, sad, pain.

Slow, ripping, pain.

Bodies opening, bodies closing, bodies hurting.

You knew you were killing her. Slowly each day.

You didn't care.

This was a family business.

Is this a family business you kept asking.

Asking … again and again.

Why didn’t I stop you?

You mattered. You mattered more than her, mattered more than me.

You mattered more than all of us.

Only you mattered.

Slowly… it was only you.

She died of a broken heart.

Not right away but slowly each day.


Each day of the affair was digging deeper and deeper into us.

Your pants left haphazardly in the kitchen.

Your messages blinking on his phone.

Your sly smiles and red lipped lies.

Deeper and deeper with more secrets and lies.

No blood, no murder scene, just your guilt.

Your choices.

The blood is hers and it's on your hands.

You ripped out a piece of my heart.

Ripped it slow, l should have known.

Is this a family business?

You knew.

All along, you knew.

Now the blood is dropping

Stuck between your fingers.

Under your long fake nails.

In your nest of dark curls.

Off your eyelashes and down your cheeks.

In the cracks of your creamy olive skin.

You killed my mother.

You don’t have to tell me.

I know.

You don’t have to confess.

You know.

We both knew it was a family business.

You wanted in at any cost.

The water runs slow.

The iron smell of blood.

The deep red blood won’t leave.

A piece of my heart is missing.

It's stuck to the blood, to the blood covering your hands and heart and soul.

It was my family’s business.

When your done trying to wash the blood from your hands.

Please go to the liquor store.

About the Author

Amy Pugsley

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Amy is a Persian-Canadian international development specialist, educator, and writer living in Cairo, Egypt. Read more of Amy's work at her website.