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December 30, 2019 Poetry

Three Poems 

Dujie Tahat

Three Poems  photo

salat to define the terms of ritual


A calling, a culling, a billowing
minaret banner, a cigarette starter thrown
out a moving car window to prove a point.


Rapt, trapped, evangelical
about the whole thing
really, hinged
on guilt and hoping
you’ll sign the papers before
the door slams shut.


In lieu of communion, Father
crosses my forehead.
has somehow escaped the mouth,
and now we’re discussing sincerity.


All this searching for my heart to be broken.

               [prostration again]

You’ll sleep when you die,
but form is death. The gap
between          every prayer
is sleep. The joke is: no such
thing as sleep.

                           Dead be dead.


On bare feet, on upturned
buckets, on an ice block
bombing down grassy
terraces, tears blessing
the angles of our return.

In our good clothes, shoulder
to shoulder in the pew,
in a broken down Chrysler
miles and miles from home.

               [salam alaikum]

Back to the work, if you’re lucky,
hands unblemished still with grace.

per reports from the southern border

This body is in an advanced state of decomposition.

That one is moving along       as expected        through the turnstile

                 out the state


                           elephant ear dusted

                                                                         fingers pushing

                                    through the fence.

                  The university         demands          proof

                  of employment

                                                                     authorization. The smoke

                          fields a kind of compliance.

                                                                                     Identification proves difficult.

Sometimes it’s not the bones that help identify the body but the personal effects.

                               Ask a family over there          what

                               their migrant wore upon departure.

                                                            Students disinfect the remains.

        Sometimes it’s the sneakers             that give

                                                                                                  the body away.


I pledge

[to stop tweeting
about the war, to never leave
until you make me]

indivisible, with liberty

[dripping from my wet mouth, ears, and elbows.
In the mirror: self-satisfaction. What more]

allegiance to the Flag

[can one body take. A lesser God whispers in my ear
and I must make ablution again. You know
how to best get over your old nation? He says, Find another]

nation under [the body of this] God

[by which of course he means to
bestow upon me the virtue] of [metered wisdom]

and justice for all

[those who kneel, stand, bow, and kneel again
to place their forehead on a new country. Like you,
I’ve read some Plato. I’ve prayed]

to the Republic for which it stands

[neatly behind a row of desks, all hands on heart,
rising to start the day coming from the East. I’ve looked,
since before I even arrived, to love]

the [you in] United States of America, and

[would you, please, Your Honor, point me
in the direction of the promised land?]


image: 昊燃 杨