The Best High Ever: Tehran 1970

January in Tehran,

I’m walking from the Iran-American Center to Tackhte Jamshid Boulevard,

It is 33 degrees today and I wear my sheepskin coat,

The full-length one that is embroidered with cream blossoms,

Maybe peonies but I’m not sure,

It smells stinky when it gets wet,

So I smell like damp dead lamb.


I am in Shimroon,

The neighborhood where the rich people live;

Diplomats and royalty all behind their tall compound walls,

I like it here and come to stare at the occasional escapes,

Driving down the winding kouches in their black cars.


Sycamores flank Tackhte Jamshid,

Tall and snow-covered,

Their long branches form a lacy canopy of bark and ice,

Trees weaving together to stop the flakes from landing on me,

They wave like seaweed,

And suddenly I’m scared and woozy,

I look up the boulevard north to the Alborz Mountains,

The trees are endless lining the street,

Everything is white and draped with snow.


I’m a little high on hashish from earlier in the day,

Nader and I had hidden in the downstairs theater at the IAS,

Smoking opiumated hash rolled into cigarettes,

Passing the dope between us and giggling,

After we got high, we kissed for a while,

Then he left to go home to his lover,

And I left to wander in the scary, snowy trees.


Feeling dizzy from the way the snow passes overhead,

Flashing in and out of the tree branches,

Making my stomach hurt,

I become paranoid that the branches will reach down to scoop me up,

Take me away and tangle me in a snowy coffin in the sky.


I think it is the opium speaking,

So I stop by the pharmacy for some speed,

A few Dexedrine’s and I’ll perk up,

It works and I feel all my fear of trees leave,

Washing the weirdness of the opium away.


I make my way up Tackhte Jamshid to Suzie’s,

We don’t have school today and she’ll be home,

Ready to party, drink some wine, read some poetry,

We are very traditional….well, except for the speed,

Persians like to get high and recite poetry,

Suzie and I love it too.


So we drink red wine from Shiraz,

Reciting e.e. cummings and touching each other during the dirty parts,

Our favorite is “may I feel said he” which we recite over and over,

Breathlessly groping each other’s breasts between stanzas,

We’re fifteen and everything is naughty.

We’re fifteen and everything is fun.


Between the opium, the hash, the speed, and the wine,

And Suzie’s fingers stroking my ribcage,

Her puffy lips nuzzling my neck,

I’m glad that I’m safe and away from the scary tree branches,

It is the best high ever.

About Avery Cassell

Avery Cassell is a queer butch San Francisco writer, poet, cartoonist, and artist who grew up in Iran.
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