Aris Kian 

Aris Kian is an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor Fellow pursuing her MFA at the University of Houston. She is ranked #10 in the 2020 Women of the World Poetry Slam. Her poems are published with Write About Now, Underground Journal, Houston Review of Books, The West Review and elsewhere. She is a Pushcart nominee and a 2020 Best of the Net Finalist.




Suck your tongue behind your teeth, sweet-sand crack, matter-of-fact girl. Call that buzzword your songbird, your chirp in the wood, the branch-snap cackle freak-deep in a stone throat. Hope to heaven’s only hotline the cop following your feet’s got a jam in his pin. Dim the dusk in a haunting only niggas know the smoke to. Still the slow-rise of skyscrapers so they snag sidewalks new slabs to stumble-over. Spit the pigeon back into the streets, feather-mouth, rust-royale girl. Don’t ask whose wind it’s turned a wing to, which weather it’s learned to worry. Skim the ribbon cutting too close to curbsides hardening under the yawn of the mayor’s last term. Churn the milk chilling in potholed streets, honey the heartache you can’t hammer out. Watch them slick the road then ask the cameras how you landed ass-down. They’ll line the horses at the city center of your chest and call it a state fair.



I open my mouth and out

pours the concrete

solid as a step

sunset settles behind the high-

rises as we begin

scraping the city off our teeth


evenings spent spitting

rocks into plastic bottles

cough and watch dunes make way

sweat sandmen on sidewalks

hawk potholes closed

kissing cracks

until they slick smooth


who else can’t stop sneezing

stairways these days

I lick my hands

and lean on a pillar damn near

from thin air


and a boy turns his tongue

into a skatepark

another buries himself

underneath his own vomit


we cannot tell the difference

between an open mouth

and renovation

a smile from a cemetery


headstone-still and sedimentary

look—I think I saw

my great-grandfather

in the swirl of sawdust

the lining of his lips



he once made a park bench

with his bare hands

if you sit you’ll feel the baritone

rumble in his chest

and mistake it for the jackhammer

just down the street


nothing here is familiar

to me but the body

never forgets its own

footstep how the block

will lodge itself

in the back of a throat

and return the second

it is close enough

to remember

Issue Statement

GMR: What is an issue in your community that you know is of utmost importance? 

AK: Gentrification & Policing, i.e. the increasing Houston Police Budget. 


GMR: What is the issue at hand?

AK: Stopping the displacement of Third Ward residents with the developing gentrification projects like the Ion through the Houston Coalition for Equitable Development without Displacement. 

Defunding the police and allocating resources and funding to underfunded departments within local government in Houston through organizations like BLMHTX and the Houston Abolitionist Collective.


GMR: How can GMR readers know more and possibly help?