Let’s Shake the Dust, Anis Mojgani

by Layah, Creative Director

4/2 - Richard Siken Tells Me We'll Never Get Used To It, by Po, EIC
4/3 - William Carlos Williams: This Is Just To Say, by Layah, CD
4/4 - We Are All Writers On the Same Dreadful Typewriter 
as Allen Ginsberg, by Jenny, EE
4/5 - Pablo Neruda and the Quest for Surrender, by Elie, ME
4/6 - Let's Shake the Dust, Anis Mojgani, by Layah, CD

I didn’t know I needed a revival.

Until Anis Mojgani told me to shake the dust and I’ve been sneezing ever since.

Praise these hair follicles that will never again be put to rest.

Praise this allergy.

Praise this deepest breathing.

The first time I heard his words was on an every-day, in an every-moment; an email in my inbox holding an end and a beginning. 

Layah to Po, 11/29/11: Sylvia. Plath.
Po to Layah, 11/29/11: Yeah. Also this.  (Attached: a clip of three spoken word poems by a poet with a few too many successive consonants in his name to bear proper pronunciation at a glance.)

Oh how I failed to capture the gamut of those millions of inarticulate splutterings inside my soul at that time. Let me try again.

He introduced himself, telling me to Rock out. From then on I called him Anis, because I felt like I knew him, because he told me to rock out like the mangoes are in season. And I said: heck yes, my friend. And my heart started beating in rhythm with his voice.

Then he spoke a truth I’ve been pondering for years:

and we forgot what we wanted
and became what we become:

We write our scars onto dumpsters and electric boxes
because the only thing we can hear is our hearts
and the only ones listening are the streets
to the blood that breathes through the letters we leave
we try to rise up out of these burning buildings
but instead get buried somewhere beneath
because I know my life my life is a high school kid’s notebook
that kid that goes back and forth between school and home
stacking the letters and the pictures
into sentences that save him
stacked too close for anyone outside of his own imagination to read
because it’s through the ink that his heart beats
that his heart breathes

I wuz here…
and ain’t none of yall can write that in the spot that I just wrote it in

what all of us wanted and what none of us got
what we all had and have and what we all forgot
that we all became something
and it may not be what we once thought it’d be when we were kids
but something is still something
and like some cats say
something’s better then nothing
feet are smarter than an engine
dreams are stronger than thighs
and questions are the only answers we need
to know that we’re still as alive as the time when I held the mind of a child
asking why is 2 +3 equal to 5?
Where do people go when they die?
What made the beauty of the moon? the beauty of the sea?
Did that beauty make you did that beauty make me?
Will it make me something?
Will I be something
Am I something?
And the answer comes:

I already am
I always was
and you still have time to be

-“Here Am I”

[Anis Mojgani in his natural element]

I play Anis on repeat like a favorite song. Yes, I may know some lines by heart but every time I hear them feels like a chill whispering upon my spine and climbing up my arms. It feels like 20 degrees and windy in a light sweater. But snowing stars. It feels like you’ve got pants full of tokens and nothing to do but everything. It feels like I can still be an astronaut-ballerina.

…for the ones who are forgotten
the ones the amendments do not stand up for
for the ones who are told speak only when you are spoken to
and then are never spoken to
speak every time you stand
so you do not forget yourself
do not let a moment go by that doesn’t remind you
that your heart beats thousands of times a day
and that there are enough gallons of blood to make every one of us an ocean
do not settle for letting these waves settle and for the dust to collect in your veins

this is for you

so shake the dust
and take me with you when you do
for none of this has ever been for me
all that pushes and pulls
it pushes for you
so grab this world by its clothespins
and shake it out again and again
and hop on top
and take it for a spin
and when you hop off
shake it again
for this is yours

make my words worth it

make this not just another poem that I write…

-“Shake the Dust”

I think I grew heartstrings that night, because there was some kind of symphony suddenly surfing my previously unconscious veins. I don’t play an instrument, not yet, but if I did I’d expect the sound to feel like his words. I expect pulling a chord to be like birthing a piece of my soul, like speaking in colors, like having proof of my wings and saying, see?

Now every conversation of mine sounds like poetry.

Anis nurtures existence; existence as it is as well as how it can be. He accepts imagination, opens every door, window, fire escape, and makes so much seem superfluous. Did you know that we are about to rock out like the streets are empty except for you, your bicycle, and your headphones?  Did you know that we all loved dinosaurs once and we all wanted the stars? Did you know that something is still something and we still have time to be? Did you know that this is for you? Did you know that this is not just another poem? Did you know that I just spilled a cup of water all over my laptop but I’m still writing like these keys are enflamed and I’m refilling my glass, drinking like time is fire and like dancing is all that you have to know who you are? Know this and know this forever. Let this be your lullaby and your morning song. Let this remind you what you are made of. Listen and you will never forget how to spell his last name either.

I mentioned an end and I mentioned a beginning. The end was an extent. The end was the limit each of us places upon our own capacities to be. The end was a stagnation of self that felt like a rubber band pulled too taut to breathe like I wished to, like it stopped prematurely, like it got caught in my throat. I guess the words of Anis Mojgani were my Heimlich Maneuver.

I didn’t realize I was choking until I realized what breathing felt like. Did my chest crack or did some obstruction dissolve or did everything disappear?

And then what began was what could be, could hold, could inhale, could exhale. What began was possibility. What began was the beginning of infiniteness. Check out my wings; you have a pair, too.

A part of me wishes I could encapsulate my entire experience of this poetry, but a larger part relishes in the realization that I can’t. Who can define what is infinite, anyway?

Take me to the moon, Anis.

Welcome to the revival.

[Shake the dust with Anis Mojgani, here.]



  1. EstherGutkovsky says:

    *Honored to know you, maybe more than a little obsessed, and rushing to go read Anis.*


  1. […] as Allen Ginsberg, by Jenny, EE 4/5 – Pablo Neruda and the Quest for Surrender, by Elie, ME 4/6 – Let's Shake the Dust, Anis Mojgani, by Layah, CD 4/11 – Terrence Hayes, Kanye West, and How to Get Through Winter, by Elie, ME 4/12 – […]

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LANDFILLS is a grassroots literary, arts and culture online collective based in Chicago. All work is original, except the featured images that accompany text posts (which are blatantly stolen from tumblr.com). Complaints should be directed to Po via Twitter.
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