The Watermelon Fortress
for Valzhyna Mort
a place where nothing celebrates past its twentieth birthday, except the government. Where babies crawl in and out of the bomb shelter/ruin. Eyes in suits watch the creche make sure no one grows up: Your child did well in school but we regret we must terminate for the good of the state. Mothers are made of machines.
The Bullet in my Heart
for Mourid Barghouti
and you mustn't worry and you must be happy rest yourself here, friend here where there are no chairs and you must, like everyone else, wear Khaki, Bring us all to love again, my friend, so we might kill. Sorrow swings its ambush at the day's trunk. Living is like carrying a bullet in your heart, fists clenching on the grass of home, on the sun, on an icecream, on a gun.
for Jorie Graham
“You have to write your poems like they’ve been dug up from sand.”
Imagining collapse, sacrifice begins: Measuring the qualities of survival-"If we are alone on this planet, will we still feel human?" Fruit and the blossom at the same time on the same tree, the wassailers speechless, customs must be abandoned the specific tree outside the window will be what? huh? language? a blat-flash of each day flowers like barrel flares-every syllable a shelterless plosive, hot tracers show you to where the sentences should end; if we arrive we will shelter in a period, pray generations will return a new inheritance; fingerprints evidence the attempts to scare off death; mental distress-wool on barbed wire rusting-I wish to talk to you about your future: what can we call an evolution of the mind?
for Mark Doty
I carry myself so that no one else has to.
Look on my work, you might, and despair with me!
History can go screw itself! I’m stuck in the gear
marked “only those who have personality and emotions
know what it means to want to laugh at my poetry.”
Now let’s escape for a Qigong in Chinatown.