hobart logo

November 29, 2017 | Poetry

Three Poems

Jess Rizkallah

Three Poems photo

i need everything to be meaningful at all times or i can’t get out of bed

sometimes i wake up in empty fields, waiting for the aliens to take me. they haven’t yet,  but any day now, i’m sure. maybe they forgot who they were here to pick up, & i feel that. sometimes i open the fridge & forget what i want. i give in to the electric hum under the reasoning that i must be part hum under all this hair i let the electrologist come for. maybe rolling my R’s & not knowing if the homeland is mine to hold but having its ghosts emerge from my follicles as soil makes me alien enough. i could call parts of the atmosphere mine because it too, holds ghosts. but i look up there with less fear than the people who look like me but live farther away can. i’ll never know the earth the way they do. my parents still do, with their thicker tongues & vibrant throat pulsars, radiating. they say “falling stars” not “shooting stars” & then they say prayers.      i know this yet still feel owed a wish. or a flying saucer. or a beam of light. something both here & not & something leaving flowers growing in its shadow -- a bed of softness i mistake for my skin & oh god maybe they’re still circling the block, waiting for me to look away. they might have all the information they need. i know this because i have cells in me that are always kind of sad when the train pulls into the station & it’s the same part of me that never finishes my coffee & i think that part of me hides in the lump in my left breast. the same one the doctors swear isn’t there. the ultrasounds won’t betray its shadow, but it slips under passing satellites when my mother corners it with holy water & a prayer unfurling from the trunk of her throat, this ancient seed she holds steady becoming an eye in her chest, opening just for me. even the darkest part of me doesn’t want to hurt my mother. still, i wonder what i will leave in my shadow as i ascend from the earth & how far i can throw the invisible black box so i don’t have to listen to just how not of the homeland i might be. what if i am the looming hum falling on villages full of people who look like me? so i wait to activate into softness the way grass always finds the arteries in pavement and reaches through. i don’t even need to be a field of flowers just let me be a field just let me hold one flower


in which the goatfish moon does not feel sorry for me  

i’m over it but i’m still going to lipstain the rim of every mug in your house
i’m going to wear that skirt, i’m going to take off my glasses
and clean the lenses whenever you want to look at my face.

it’s not cute to yell at the moon. it’s not cute to squeeze a hair from
my face and casually wonder what i did in another life to be punished
with twenty five years of stalled engines.

it’s not because the scotch or leather jacket or the romance
of barefeet where someone most definitely took a piss while
waiting for a train and i pretended not to have that first thought
because i wanted to be a Chill Girl. i am not chill, i am afraid

of ripping my tights, so i don’t climb trees. that must be it.
or the roundness of my body rounder still every day filled with
that light we found but i yelled marco and the water came so
i’m always extinguishing something.

how confessional am i allowed to be. masculinity tells me this is horseshit.
but masculinity aches deeply to be its own condensation this thing i drip too.

how do i say something without saying something. i just want to wake up one day
and stare into a bowl of oatmeal my cheeks already warm


where are my spoons

a health goal in my family is: i just want to get better enough
to survive the plane to lebanon
and we usually are until one day
we’re not. we’ll just keep saying it. like our tongues against our teeth
form not just words, but hail marys. click click go the teeth go the bones go
the guns filling birds with lead ameen ameen ameen they all fall down
but please don't hit the ones that sing
                  if I could be any bird i’d want to be light, that one
there thrown over moving water and shimmering on the side of a boat
i’d want to be sunlight filling your nose pores, i’d want to be the phosphene
a knife throws when you finally look it in the eye to find it’s just another
mirror for yr best selfy, a moon for yr pocket
           i dreamt about the moon opening into bats to save all the sick people
hidden away when the world came for them first. i dreamt that i was making
the picket sign that would save us all but i kept running out of paint
                in the end love was easy
                                                like sundays and you didn’t forget me
                we all got away click click let’s just keep saying it like ice cubes
falling into place under running water you know i’d rather be anywhere
but here anywhere but where i can’t say myself out loud you know i’m
healthy enough to leave so of course i won’t

 

image: Chelsea Martin


SHARE