HAWAI’I

It’s winter in Detroit. The slush is black
and chunky gray. The sky is chunky
gray. The sky is huge smooth gray
like the Apartheid Wall.

I threw pillows over it. Not all went over.
It didn’t go over when I posed as a martyr,
but my cousin laughed
at my martyr poster.

A centipede races—squiggly, quick-witted—
across the tire shop’s cold epoxy floor
toward the heated back office.
So fuck it—I’ll move back.

I’ll sell my house and buy a spread in Ramallah
or Haifa. I’ll dust off my Arabic, make peace
with what I’ll miss,

creature comforts like road trips without
checkpoints, smoking bans in public places,
Taco Bell, the sweet internet connection,
as if I could drink Jupiter like a beer.

Anyway it’s all atmosphere. A life’s a life.
If Palestine’s a utopian move, I should go
to Hawai’i. There’s homelessness there, too.

FOR YARA FLOWERS

Maybe I’d been spared. I might’ve been a spiteful mother,
the kind to let him squirm in his shit a few extra seconds
before cleaning him up, knowing he’d never remember.
But I wouldn’t have. I’d have been a slavish mother,

deftly hiding my resentments, allowing them to
accumulate like a patina in a house filled with wailing
and gentle music, giggles and wet farts, the sounds
I never wanted and felt like an imposter to now miss.

I never placed flowers at the grave. It struck me as grotesque
to tear flowers from the ground where they grew,
severing their stems and shoving them in water
like formaldehyde for a corpse at a multi-day viewing.

But filing my nails, watching the spirals of fingernail dust
swirl in the sunray filled me with a selfish desire,
and I figured florists would sell flowers even if
I boycotted them, so might as well buy.

I snipped the bottoms of the stems at an angle,
refreshed their water. They were ears
strung on a soldier’s necklace, heirloom tomatoes
and fresh greens on a porcelain plate. I was one

of the dum-dums. Then the signs of death appeared.
One day I up and stopped killing insects, bothering
instead to trap them in a glass and deposit them outside,
a measured heroic euphoria fizzing in my chest.

Even lights left on in empty rooms troubled me.
I knew I was taking it too far. When I switched the light
above my kitchen sink off at the end of the night,
I thought, You can rest now, or You can rest now, sweetie,

feeling affection for the wires holding the electrical charge,
the delicate searing glass, the fragile filament absorbing
the hot glow. I personified it as a child might.

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