lottery :: hafizah geter

“It isn’t fair,” she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head.
–Shirley Jackson, “The Lottery”

if the birds were not black
crickets upon
further inspection,

I would wake for the scent
of pine trees.
if the choice were not
always between mercy
or forgiveness,

laundry would dry
completely. if the body was
more than wood jarred
in brine,

the moon would stay
isosceles. if I could diagram
the grammar of a motive,

I could empty
this shoebox. if geometry
were no longer
in the arc but the meter,

i would pray to this round shape
i’ve locked
in my hands.
if the lilies were not
bearing their stamens

like wolves,
is this the only way to be

consider the hands that write this letter :: aracelis girmay

after Marina Wilson

Consider the hands
that write this letter.

Left palm pressed flat against paper,
as we have done before, over my heart,

in peace or reverence to the sea,
some beautiful thing

I saw once, felt once: snow falling
like rice flung from the giants’ wedding,

or strangest of strange birds. & consider, then,
the right hand, & how it is a fist,

within which a sharpened utensil,
similar to the way I’ve held a spade,

the horse’s reins, loping, the very fists
I’ve seen from roads through Limay & Estelí.

For years, I have come to sit this way:
one hand open, one hand closed,

like a farmer who puts down seeds & gathers up;
food will come from that farming.

Or, yes, it is like the way I’ve danced
with my left hand opened around a shoulder,

my right hand closed inside
of another hand. & how I pray,

I pray for this to be my way: sweet
work alluded to in the body’s position to its paper:

left hand, right hand
like an open eye, an eye closed:

one hand flat against the trapdoor,
the other hand knocking, knocking.

let light shine out of darkness :: daniel borzutzky

I live in a body that does not have enough light in it

For years, I did not know that I needed to have more light

Once I walked around my city on a dying morning and a decomposing
body approached me and asked me why I had no light

I knew this decomposing body

All that remained of it were teeth, bits of bone, a hand

It came to me and said: There is no light that comes out of your body

I did not know at the time that there should have been light in my body

It’s not that I am dead

It’s not that I am translucent

It’s that you cannot know you need something if you do not know it
is missing

Which is not to say that for years I did not ask for this light

Once, I even said to the body I live with: I think I need more light in
my body, but I really did not take this seriously as a need, as something I
deserved to have

I said: I think I need for something blue or green to shine from my rib cage

Other times when I am talking about lightness I am talking about breath
and space and movement

For it is hard to move in a body so congested with images of mutilation

Did you hear the one about the illegal immigrant who electrocuted his
employee’s genitals? Did you hear the one about the boy in Chicago whose
ear was bitten off when he crossed a border he did not know existed?

I want to give you more room to move so I am trying to carve a space, with
light, for you to walk a bit more freely

This goes against my instincts, which are to tie you down, to tie you to
me, to bind us by the wrist the belly the neck and to look directly into
your mouth, to make you open your mouth and speak the vocabulary of
obliteration right into your tongue your veins your blood

I stop on a bridge over the train tracks and consider the history of the
chemical-melting of my skin

Once, when I poured a certain type of acid on my arm I swore I saw a
bright yellow gas seep out of my body

Once, my teeth glowed sick from the diseased snow they had shoved into
my mouth when they wanted me to taste for myself to bring into my
body the sorrows of the rotten carcass economy

Once, I dreamwrote that I found my own remains in a desert that was
partially in Chile and partially in Arizona

Was I a disappeared body, tossed out of an airplane by a bureaucrat-
soldier-compatriot or was I a migrant body who died from dehydration
while crossing the invisible line between one civilization and another

I was part of a team of explorers we were searching for our own bodies

In the desert I found my feet and I put them in a plastic bag and
photographed them, cataloged them, weighed and measured them and
when I was finished with the bureaucratization of my remains I lay down
in the sand and asked one of my colleagues to jam a knife into my belly

She obliged

But when the blade entered my skin it was as if my belly were a water balloon

Water shot into the air

My skin ripped into hundreds of pieces and I watched as the water covered
the feet of my colleagues who were here to document their disappearances
and decomposition

It was at this moment that I saw light in my body not sun over the sand
but a drip of soft blue on a piece of skin that had fallen off my body and
dissolved into its own resistance

moved by the beauty of trees :: ishion hutchinson

The beauty of the trees stills her;
she is stillness staring at the leaves,

still and green and keeping up the sky;
their beauty stills her and she is quiet

in her stare, her eyes’ long lashes curve
and keep, her little mouth opens

and keeps still with its quiet for the beauty
of the trees, their leaves, the sky

and its blue quiet, very still and quiet;
her looking eyes wide, deep, silent

hard on the trees and the beauty
of the sky, the green of the leaves.

sci-fi :: tracy k. smith

There will be no edges, but curves.
Clean lines pointing only forward.

History, with its hard spine & dog-eared
Corners, will be replaced with nuance,

Just like the dinosaurs gave way
To mounds and mounds of ice.

Women will still be women, but
The distinction will be empty. Sex,

Having outlived every threat, will gratify
Only the mind, which is where it will exist.

For kicks, we’ll dance for ourselves
Before mirrors studded with golden bulbs.

The oldest among us will recognize that glow—
But the word sun will have been re-assigned

To a Standard Uranium-Neutralizing device
Found in households and nursing homes.

And yes, we’ll live to be much older, thanks
To popular consensus. Weightless, unhinged,

Eons from even our own moon, we’ll drift
In the haze of space, which will be, once

And for all, scrutable and safe.

eagle poem :: joy harjo

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.

the first x-ray :: eric tran

Wilhem Roentgen aimed radiation at objects,
each holding photons like a dam holds flood.
What spilled over was cast on film, a portrait

of what was lost: a metal sheet, a set of weights,
his wife’s hand—silhouette of her wedding ring.
The history of innovation cycles, a stone wheel

that hones a knife’s edge. Biotech is built small
for warzones, to trace poison in water. Mustard gas
fathered chemo: autopsies of blistered victims

showed tumors lulled into slumber. Wildfires
clear stagnant fields clean—eventually you
hardly remember the earth’s scarred flesh. Still,

I remember cadavers and my reluctant scalpel
baring down onto bone. I remember someone
said, They wanted you to learn, as if permission

could supplant the image of skin peeled out
like an onion. Roentgen saw this muddled
future; he called them X-rays, x for unknown,

but he predicted deformed fingers, twisted bowels,
and hid behind lead. Even his wife, mother
of lobar pneumonia, of excised bullets and clots,

knew her role in this play. At her naked
knuckles, she cried, I have seen my death,
but not once did she pull her hand away.

we all return to the place where we were born :: oscar gonzales

What remains of my childhood
are the fragmentary visions
of large patios
like an oceanic green mist over the afternoon.

Then, crickets would forge in the wind
their deep music of centuries
and the purple fragrances of Grandmother
always would receive without questions
our return home.

The hammock shivering in the breeze
like the trembling voice of light at dusk,
the unforeseeable future
that would never exist without Mother,
the Tall tales that filled
with their most engaging lunar weight our days
—all those unchangeable things—
were the morning constellations
that we would recognize daily without sadness.

In the tropical days we had no intuition of the winter
nor of autumn, that often returns with pain
in the shadows of this new territory
—like the cold moving through our shivering hands—
that I have learned to accept
in the same way you welcome
the uncertainty of a false and cordial smile.

Those were the days of the solstice
when the wind pushed the smoke from the clay ovens
through the zinc kitchens
and the ancient stone stoves
clearly spoke
of the secrets of our barefooted and wise Indian ancestors.

The beautiful, unformed rocks in our hands
that served as detailed toys
seemed to give us the illusion
of fantastic events
that invaded our joyful chants
with infinite color.

It was a life without seasonal pains,
a life without unredeemable time
a life without the somber dark shadows
that have intently translated my life
that slowly move today through my soul.


Todos volvemos al lugar donde nacimos

De mi infancia solo quedan
las visiones fragmentarias
de los patios tendidos
como un naval terciopelo sobre la tarde.

Entonces, los grillos cuajaban sobre el aire
su profunda música de siglos
y las fragancias empurpuradas de la abuela
meciéndose en la noche
siempre recibían sin preguntas nuestra vuelta al hogar.

La hamaca temblando con la brisa,
como la voz trémula del sol en el ocaso;
el futuro imprevisible
que jamás existiría sin la madre;
las leyendas
cargadas de su peso lunar más devorador;
—todas esas cosas inalterables—
eran las constelaciones diurnas que reconocíamos sin tristeza.

Entonces no se intuía el invierno,
ni el otoño que retoña con dolor
entre las sombras de este territorio
—como el frío entre las manos doblegadas—
que hoy he aprendido
a soportar
de la misma forma en que se acepta
la incertidumbre de una falsa sonrisa.

Eran los días en que el solsticio
acarreaba humaredas polvorientas
por las ventanas de las cocinas de zinc
donde el fogón de barro milenario
decía oscuramente
el secreto de nuestros ancestros sabios y descalzos.

Las rocas deformes en nuestras manos
parecían darnos
la ilusión de eventos fabulosos
que invadían nuestras gargantas de aromas desmedidos.

Era una vida sin dolores estacionales
Vida sin tiempos irredimibles:
Vida sin las puras formas sombrías
que se resbalan hoy lentamente por mi pecho.

my beloved :: orit gidali

translated by Marcela Sulak

Filled were my days with suns.
Filled were my days with love.
When he comes to the door I will open to him
and I will be wet loam.
The balcony of my body is rosemary for him
and he, clusters of vines.
Sometimes, in the darkness, before his sleep,
I hear a grape opening.
Behold, here he arrives at the gate,
he removes the breastplate of his clothing
set with shards from the floor of our house.
He kisses me and permits me
to lay my ribs
in the space between his ribs.
I return to him.

He poeticizes our sated bodies
in the ears of friends.
They hear and are burned
as one who imagines the taste of a lemon.

Then he waves goodbye.
The movement of his hand caresses from afar
all the organs of my body.

He kisses my extended hand,
fingers like the lashes of an eyelid.
He is a man who holds an etrog,
he brings his nose close to smell it.
My beloved who found a woman,
he looked for and found her in himself.
She is beautiful, she is more beautiful than I.
A well is full of lace,
fine lace, my love.
When my hands roll away the rock
the white light spills out.

white lies :: natasha trethewey

The lies I could tell,
when I was growing up
light-bright, near-white,
high-yellow, red-boned
in a black place,
were just white lies.

I could easily tell the white folks
that we lived uptown,
not in that pink and green
shanty-fled shotgun section
along the tracks. I could act
like my homemade dresses
came straight out the window
of Maison Blanche. I could even
keep quiet, quiet as kept,
like the time a white girl said
(squeezing my hand), Now
we have three of us in this class.

But I paid for it every time
Mama found out.
She laid her hands on me,
then washed out my mouth
with Ivory soap. This
is to purify
, she said,
and cleanse your lying tongue.
Believing her, I swallowed suds
thinking they’d work
from the inside out.

cloud fishing :: phillis levin

To fish from a cloud in the sky
You must find a comfortable spot,
Spend a day looking down
Patiently, clear-sighted.

Peer at your ceiling:
Where a light dangles, hook & line
Could be slipping through.

Under the hull of a boat
A fish will see things this way,

Looking up while swimming by — 

A wavering pole’s refraction
Catching its eye.

What will you catch?
With what sort of bait?
Take care or you’ll catch yourself,

A fish might say,
As inescapable skeins of shadow
Scatter a net
Over the face of the deep.

four-leaf clover :: ella higginson

I know a place where the sun is like gold,
    And the cherry blooms burst with snow,
And down underneath is the loveliest nook,
    Where the four-leaf clovers grow.

One leaf is for hope, and one is for faith,
    And one is for love, you know,
And God put another in for luck—
    If you search, you will find where they grow.

But you must have hope, and you must have faith,
    You must love and be strong – and so—
If you work, if you wait, you will find the place
    Where the four-leaf clovers grow.

the river of bees :: w. s. merwin

In a dream I returned to the river of bees
Five orange trees by the bridge and
Beside two mills my house
Into whose courtyard a blindman followed
The goats and stood singing
Of what was older

Soon it will be fifteen years

He was old he will have fallen into his eyes

I took my eyes
A long way to the calendars
Room after room asking how shall I live

One of the ends is made of streets
One man processions carry through it
Empty bottles their
Image of hope
It was offered to me by name

Once once and once
In the same city I was born
Asking what shall I say

He will have fallen into his mouth
Men think they are better than grass

I return to his voice rising like a forkful of hay

He was old he is not real nothing is real
Nor the noise of death drawing water

We are the echo of the future

On the door it says what to do to survive
But we were not born to survive
Only to live

the circle :: elizabeth bohm

We come to childhood after all our work
Of going up and down the roads of men;
In ignorance perhaps we take the fork
Leading to simplicity again.

We recognize a house, a field, a fence:
This is the country, this is where we played!
We meet the landscape that a child’s glance
Photographed on all our light and shade.

Again the glow like gas-flame of the sky
Trembles above the hills we always knew,
And though the morning long ago was dry
We trace our early steps across the dew.

the way it works :: rosalia moffett

is not that I am half her and half
my father, quite, so it’s not true
that I am destined to half of her

battalion of doctors—
or exactly half her body’s refusal
to go through this world assembled

in a way anyone understands. My brothers
don’t question this, that they are separate
as moons. They don’t look

like her. They orbit, tall, black-haired. They reach,
lift things down from the top cupboards.
Me, though. Who am I but her

creation, clicking around in all her old
high heels? Listen, who knows
where this comes from. And you, you,

must’ve inherited your brain
from your father.
But I have her arm
in mine so she won’t stumble because

that’s what the medicine does, undoes
the balance calibrators. I hold tight. I am careful,
as we walk, to watch where she puts her feet

which means I am looking at our legs
stepping in time with each other,
like someone next to a mirror.

trailing clouds of glory :: vijay seshadri

Even though I’m an immigrant,
the angel with the flaming sword seems fine with me.
He unhooks the velvet rope. He ushers me into the club.
Some activity in the mosh pit, a banquet here, a panhandler there,
a gray curtain drawn down over the infinitely curving lunette,
Jupiter in its crescent phase, huge,
a vista of a waterfall, with a rainbow in the spray,
a few desultory orgies, a billboard
of the snub-nosed electric car of the future—
the inside is exactly the same as the outside,
down to the m.c. in the yellow spats.
So why the angel with the flaming sword
bringing in the sheep and waving away the goats,
and the men with the binoculars,
elbows resting on the roll bars of jeeps,
peering into the desert? There is a border,
but it is not fixed, it wavers, it shimmies, it rises
and plunges into the unimaginable seventh dimension
before erupting in a field of Dakota corn. On the F train
to Manhattan yesterday, I sat across
from a family threesome Guatemalan by the look of them—
delicate and archaic and Mayan—
and obviously undocumented to the bone.
They didn’t seem anxious. The mother was
laughing and squabbling with the daughter
over a knockoff smart phone on which they were playing a
video game together. The boy, maybe three,
disdained their ruckus. I recognized the scowl on his face,
the retrospective, maskless rage of inception.
He looked just like my son when my son came out of his mother
after thirty hours of labor—the head squashed,
the lips swollen, the skin empurpled and hideous
with blood and afterbirth. Out of the inflamed tunnel
and into the cold room of harsh sounds.
He looked right at me with his bleared eyes.
He had a voice like Richard Burton’s.
He had an impressive command of the major English texts.
I will do such things, what they are yet I know not,
but they shall be the terrors of the earth
, he said.
The child, he said, is father of the man.

picture of a girl drawn in black and white :: diane wakoski

A girl sits in a black room.
She is so fair
the plums have fallen off the trees outside.
Icy winds blow geese
into her hair.
The room is black
but geese are wandering there,
breaking into her mind
and closing the room off
into its own black secret.
She is not alone, for there is the sound
of a hundred flapping wings,
and from fruit rotting in the dark earth
the smell of passing time.

A girl sits in an unreal room
combing her unreal hair.
The flapping wings of geese have
broken plums
from the trees outside,
and the wind has frozen them all
to keep the girl in the black room
there, combing her
unreal wintry hair.

A girl sits in a picture
with the background painted solid black
and combs her hair.
She is so fair the wind has broken plums and scattered geese.
Winter has come.
The sound of flapping wings is so loud I hear
but most only stare out of the picture
and continue combing my black
unreal hair.

bogliasco :: robert polito

I’m always running ahead of my life,
The way when we walk you are always

Three, fifteen, forty steps behind
Taking a picture, or inspecting

A bottlebrush tree, a cornice, the sea
As it breaks white on the striated rock,

As though I can’t dare look, and
I’m always running away from myself

The way when we walk you are always
Asking me to slow down, and what will happen

When one of us dies, and, if it’s me first,
There’s no one’s back in our photos anymore.

in defense of melancholy :: pablo medina

At least once a week
I walk into the city of bricks
where the rubies grow

and the killers await
the coming of doves and cats.

I pass by the homes of butchers
and their knives sharpened by insomnia

to the river of black sails
and the torn-up sea and the teeth of dogs.

She waits for me in a narrow bed,
watching the rain
that gathers on the broken street

and the weak light of dusk
and the singing trees.

the bear :: susan mitchell

Tonight the bear
comes to the orchard and, balancing
on her hind legs, dances under the apple trees,
hanging onto their boughs,
dragging their branches down to earth.
Look again. It is not the bear
but some afterimage of her
like the car I once saw in the driveway
after the last guest had gone.
Snow pulls the apple boughs to the ground.
Whatever moves in the orchard—
heavy, lumbering—is clear as wind.

The bear is long gone.
Drunk on apples,
she banged over the trash cans that fall night,
then skidded downstream. By now
she must be logged in for the winter.
Unless she is choosy.
I imagine her as very choosy,
sniffing at the huge logs, pawing them, trying
each one on for size,
but always coming out again.

Until tonight.
Tonight sap freezes under her skin.
Her breath leaves white apples in the air.
As she walks she dozes,
listening to the sound of axes chopping wood.
Somewhere she can never catch up to
trees are falling. Chips pile up like snow
When she does find it finally,
the log draws her in as easily as a forest,
and for a while she continues to see,
just ahead of her, the moon
trapped like a salmon in the ice.

why regret? :: galway kinnell

Didn’t you like the way the ants help
the peony globes open by eating the glue off?
Weren’t you cheered to see the ironworkers
sitting on an I-beam dangling from a cable,
in a row, like starlings, eating lunch, maybe
baloney on white with fluorescent mustard?
Wasn’t it a revelation to waggle
from the estuary all the way up the river,
the kill, the pirle, the run, the rent, the beck,
the sike barely trickling, to the shock of a spring?
Didn’t you almost shiver, hearing book lice
clicking their sexual dissonance inside an old
Webster’s New International, perhaps having just
eaten out of it izle, xyster, and thalassacon?
What did you imagine lies in wait anyway
at the end of a world whose sub-substance
is glaim, gleet, birdlime, slime, mucus, muck?
Forget about becoming emaciated. Think of the wren
and how little flesh is needed to make a song.
Didn’t it seem somehow familiar when the nymph
split open and the mayfly struggled free
and flew and perched and then its own back
broke open and the imago, the true adult,
somersaulted out and took flight, seeking
the swarm, mouth-parts vestigial,
alimentary canal come to a stop,
a day or hour left to find the desired one?
Or when Casanova took up the platter
of linguine in squid’s ink and slid the stuff
out the window, telling his startled companion,
“The perfected lover does not eat.”
As a child, didn’t you find it calming to imagine
pinworms as some kind of tiny batons
giving cadence to the squeezes and releases
around the downward march of debris?
Didn’t you glimpse in the monarchs
what seemed your own inner blazonry
flapping and gliding, in desire, in the middle air?
Weren’t you reassured to think these flimsy
hinged beings, and then their offspring,
and then their offspring’s offspring, could
navigate, working in shifts, all the way to Mexico,
to the exact plot, perhaps the very tree,
by tracing the flair of the bodies of ancestors
who fell in this same migration a year ago?
Doesn’t it outdo the pleasures of the brilliant concert
to wake in the night and find ourselves
holding hands in our sleep?

biodiversity :: shayok misha chowdhury

He secrets a single riceseed into my cupped palm.

It is blood-dark
and sits in the crease I’ve always imagined
to be the head of an eagle. He says,
when they ripen
in the setting sun it seems the fields are on fire.

We are letting night fall.

We are sitting in silence in dim
solar-powered lighting in the mud kitchen.
I can breathe.
The wheeze of the city’s leaving my windpipe, I have
money in my pocket.

The moon is full.

I search for curvature at the edges of its light—
something to show me it is sphere
and no more mystery than what’s nearer:
this wordless man;
bloodrice in the palm of my hand.

Maybe, I think, I’m not

made for the quiet.
He knows the names of trees and I wonder,
should I memorize them?
And I wonder what it means
that I can’t think in longhand anymore.

So I sit

and listen where the squares of lost rice meet and bow, their
stalks curving toward one another.
I sit at the crossroads
because I imagine I’m supposed to because
I live in metaphor

and it moves:

there is buzzing
and the braying of a cow
and in the morning the dew drops hanging from the
unripe grains are alive with light and I
still want wisdom

and I still miss home.

From a mile away the bus horn pierces the fog.
The far-off trees are ghosts. As he
walks me to the road,
he takes my hand obliquely. And without a word. I think
I could get used to stillness.

ballad of forgotten places :: olga orozco

translated by Mary Crow

My most beautiful hiding places,
places that best fit my soul’s deepest colors,
are made of all that others forgot.

They are solitary sites hollowed out in the grass’s caress,
in a shadow of wings, in a passing song;
regions whose limits swirl with the ghostly carriages
that transport the mist in the dawn,
and in whose skies names are sketched, ancient words of love,
vows burning like constellations of drunken fireflies.

Sometimes earthly villages pass, hoarse trains make camp,
a couple piles marvelous oranges at the edge of the sea,
a single relic is spread through all space.
My places would look like broken mirages,
clippings of photographs torn from an album to orient nostalgia,
but they have roots deeper than this sinking ground,
these fleeing doors, these vanishing walls.

They are enchanted islands where only I can be the magician.

And who else, if not I, is climbing the stairs towards those attics in the clouds
where the light, aflame, used to hum in the siesta’s honey,
who else will open again the big chest where the remains of an unhappy story lie,
sacrificed a thousand times only to fantasy, only to foam,
and try on the rags again
like those costumes of invincible heroes,
circle of fire that inflamed time’s scorpion?

Who cleans the windowpane with her breath and stirs the fire of the afternoon
in those rooms where the table was an altar of idolatry,
each chair, a landscape folded up after every trip,
and the bed, a stormy short cut to the other shore of dreams,
rooms deep as nets hung from the sky,
like endless embraces I slid down till I brushed the feathers of death,
until I overturned the laws of knowledge and the fall of man?

Who goes into the parks with the golden breath of each Christmas
and washes the foliage with a little gray rag that was the handkerchief for waving goodbye,
and reweaves the garlands with a thread of tears,
repeating a fantastic ritual among smashed wine glasses and guests lost in thought,
while she savors the twelve green grapes of redemption—
one for each month, one for each year, one for each century of empty indulgence—
a taste acid but not as sharp as the bread of forgetfulness?

Because who but I changes the water for all the memories?
Who inserts the present like a slash into the dreams of the past?
Who switches my ancient lamps for new ones?

My most beautiful hiding places are solitary sites where no one goes,
and where there are shadows that only come to life when I am the magician.


Balada de los lugares olvidados

Mis refugios más bellos,
los lugares que se adaptan mejor a los colores últimos de mi alma,
están hechos de todo lo que los otros olvidaron.

Son sitios solitarios excavados en la caricia de la hierba,
en una sombra de alas; en una canción que pasa;
regiones cuyos límites giran con los carruajes fantasmales
que transportan la niebla en el amanecer
y en cuyos cielos se dibujan nombres, viejas frases de amor,
juramentos ardientes como constelaciones de luciérnagas ebrias.

Algunas veces pasan poblaciones terrosas, acampan roncos trenes,
una pareja junta naranjas prodigiosas en el borde del mar,
una sola reliquia se propaga por toda la extensión.
Parecerían espejismos rotos,
recortes de fotografías arrancados de un álbum para orientar a la nostalgia,
pero tienen raíces más profundas que este suelo que se hunde,
estas puertas que huyen, estas paredes que se borran.

Son islas encantadas en las que sólo yo puedo ser la hechicera.

¿Y quién si no, sube las escaleras hacia aquellos desvanes entre nubes
donde la luz zumbaba enardecida en la miel de la siesta,
vuelve a abrir el arcón donde yacen los restos de una historia inclemente,
mil veces inmolada nada más que a delirios, nada más que a espumas,
y se prueba de nuevo los pedazos
como aquellos disfraces de las protagonistas invencibles,
el círculo de fuego con el que encandilaba al escorpión del tiempo?

¿Quién limpia con su aliento los cristales y remueve la lumbre del atardecer
en aquellas habitaciones donde la mesa era un altar de idolatría,
cada silla, un paisaje replegado después de cada viaje,
y el lecho, un tormentoso atajo hacia la otra orilla de los sueños;
aposentos profundos como redes suspendidas del cielo,
como los abrazos sin fin donde me deslizaba hasta rozar las plumas de la muerte,
hasta invertir las leyes del conocimiento y la caída?

¿Quién se interna en los parques con el soplo dorado de cada Navidad
y lava los follajes con un trapito gris que fue el pañuelo de las despedidas,
y entrelaza de nuevo los guirnaldas con un hilo de lágrimas,
repitiendo un fantástico ritual entre copas trizadas y absortos comensales,
mientras paleada en las doce uvas verdes de la redención—
una por cada mes, una por cada año, una por cada siglo de vacía indulgencia—
un ácido sabor menos mordiente que el del pan del olvido?

¿Por qué quién sino yo les cambia el agua a todos los recuerdos?
¿Quién incrusta el presente como un tajo ante las proyecciones del pasado?
¿Alguien trueca mis lámparas antiguas por sus lámparas nuevas?

Mis refugios más bellos son sitios solitarios a los que nadie va
y en los que sólo hay sombras que se animan cuando soy la hechicera.

a taste :: richard jarrette

She looked in wonder at the rain suddenly on fire just
before being slammed across the veranda into a solid
oak door. When revived, her first thought was how
everything is up for grabs and that’s what she began
saying over and over, seeing beyond her friends’ faces–
how all that we know is wrong, half-right at best, while
a taste of what we don’t know is bearing down on us at
tremendous speed whether or not we are ready. Amazed
that she survived, her friends remembered only that she
had whispered, The rain is on fire.

if they should come for us :: fatimah asghar

these are my people & I find
them on the street & shadow
through any wild all wild
my people my people
a dance of strangers in my blood
the old woman’s sari dissolving to wind
bindi a new moon on her forehead
I claim her my kin & sew
the star of her to my breast
the toddler dangling from stroller
hair a fountain of dandelion seed
at the bakery I claim them too
the sikh uncle at the airport
who apologizes for the pat
down the muslim man who abandons
his car at the traffic light drops
to his knees at the call of the azan
& the muslim man who sips
good whiskey at the start of maghrib
the lone khala at the park
pairing her kurta with crocs
my people my people I can’t be lost
when I see you my compass
is brown & gold & blood
my compass a muslim teenager
snapback & high-tops gracing
the subway platform
mashallah I claim them all
my country is made
in my people’s image
if they come for you they
come for me too in the dead
of winter a flock of
aunties step out on the sand
their dupattas turn to ocean
a colony of uncles grind their palms
& a thousand jasmines bell the air
my people I follow you like constellations
we hear the glass smashing the street
& the nights opening their dark
our names this country’s wood
for the fire my people my people
the long years we’ve survived the long
years yet to come I see you map
my sky the light your lantern long
ahead & I follow I follow