O bobolink. The bobolink is dead
at my door — found leaving my apartment
to school then to work. After some searching,
I guess it’s a bobolink—this lemon-
headed crow, this crumpled parachute cloth.
My daughter takes it in her hands, careful
to first remove her fake diamond ring. I
go back inside for a shoe box coffin,
return to my daughter spreading wide her
narrow glittering hands; frozen dimes spill
onto the concrete. I thought I woke a
morning glory exhaling a dawn mist
over the pines, breathe collapsing into vapor.
ode to the imam who chaplained the Super Bowl-winning New Orleans Saints
after Omar Suleiman
My dude —
how did you arrive
like a flock
of crowding starlings
over a funeral
coming & going
that thickens & wanes
with the strength of the wind
or some other
force of nature
I cannot perceive
yet see all around me
how you conjured
of water-bearers arriving home
to bury those that never left.
Did you ever lose hope
in us, sheikh?
The ones who slept
through it all? The ones still
sleeping? Isn’t that such an easy question
to lob from all the way over here?
Fronting like a Sufi mystic
with reeds for fingers,
head in hand,
begging to be pulled
salat as a youth of the world dancing and singing and imitating natural objects1[adhan]
I harmonize through this
busted tailpipe throat. My muffler
wheezes. I would say I was junk
yard dog, but the mirrors ofmy mind yet unbroken.
Given the choice,
I make myself
brook slung tongue
at the head.
I am at the base of some valley
flooding the sky with my face.
If you’ll allow me to speculate
for a moment, I’d drown the blue
out myself. I am all red water, and no,
dear reader, there is no blood in this
poem. I will not let there be blood
in this poem.
What happens after this is yours,
but this scrawling ripple stippled
tide is paleolithic past tense
bent round itself
till the ocean is all
Water and salt return
to water and salt.
If anyone is left on this earth,
they’ll find the ruins of a used car
lot next to a liquor store at the edge of the city
where my mama’s bones still stay.
Attend to this, friend: this song, this burial,
this holy water be praised, this wet interment
stretching farther into the collapsing
distance than ever we could.
1 paraphrased from Percy Shelley’s “A Defence of Poetry”
Dujie Tahat is a Filipino-Jordanian immigrant living in Washington state. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Sugar House Review, The Journal, The Southeast Review, Narrative, Bennington Review, Nimrod, Asian American Literary Review, The American Journal of Poetry, and elsewhere. Dujie has earned fellowships from the Richard Hugo House and Jack Straw Writing Program. He serves as a poetry editor for Moss and Homology Lit and cohosts The Poet Salon podcast. He got his start as a Seattle Poetry Slam Finalist, a collegiate grand slam champion, and Seattle Youth Speaks Grand Slam Champion, representing Seattle at HBO’s Brave New Voices.
Featured image courtesy Eser Aygün.