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2 poems by Jai Hamid Bashir

Savage Visions

In decomposition — does it all begin in the head

like a lover? I have always been a kind thief. I

ask a lot of the right questions. I take a lot of

my savage visions to be beasts,

sweet herds of strangers’ souls nested

in an eviction notice caught between cantered bristles

of my marrow. This infinite stuff latched

to a handle from which I brush my incoming gray hair

as if tilling the moon. My poetry

has only been true unbridled;

I’ve never been stable. I’m the rushed flood

that survived curve of my wet, feverish pink

muzzle, eating deep into unfamiliar roots.

The horizon is inked with chemtrails

from which I pull in an angel

of tender-clinging. In this bright mocking

night, I see the throat of newer life

from dream to dream, as if they were rooms

in a funhouse. I find what Lacan meant in every mirror.

My Doc Marten boots babble-on, wrinkled and infant

between Broadway and Amsterdam. I will go

on under a regetta of stars

to see how they fall with warm thuds.

I’ve stood up on disappearing ice islands, so blue

on science. I’ve always believed them. I know no one

besides the rising sea tides of my innermost wander.

In total surrender to one particular beast of mine,

I said, I'd like you to read your poem

The best replied in uncertain grammar.

I Know You Are a Modern American Man

because you are my best friend, and it is always you

and I in the kitchen, cooking for us, again — an eternity.

Castled tight in a petite New York City kitchen. Moonset glows

silver in bouquets of cutlery. Skinning a rabbit,

a manual describes as if taking off its sweater. Such vocabulary

of cooking naturally invites the body— dress, pinch, temper,

taste— and then ones you know best: allumette. You slice

your warmth and remain whole. The vegetables are matchsticks.

All of this: domestic mysticism. Simplifying things—

zen or feng-shui. Any any other way that isn’t banal

as eating crackers without care. I turn off the gas stove.

Doing dishes with yellow gloves you insist on wearing,

that slap an echo when taken off, ugly necks

of rubber chickens taken out of a clown’s bag

left to curiously dangle. I notice your freckles What if, and

this is as romantic as I really can get, Heaven is just

another waiting room. I point a knife at you, a bread one,

so casual in my brutality, Take my last name because

if we are called alphabetically, the angel of order

tapping her BIC-pen against the clipboard will take us

both. See? We will just get called more quickly. I see you

tucking curls behind the ears, glossy-faced and warm

like a summer window. Muted roar of a rotating

fan in the stoic movement of a pageant winner’s wave.

I explain a terrifying angel will lean underneath a sheet

to snap the photograph for our entrance visas.

Wearing that common smile that superblooms

around every dog, your ears are perked, Okay. Cool,

nodding along, weaving skies of a wet blue sponge

in between prongs. Then, holding it as a pitchfork,

leaning over the table, —but only if you promise

we never eat takeout for the rest of our life

left here on Earth.


Jai Hamid Bashir is a Pakistani-American and second-generation artist. An MFA student at Columbia University in the City of New York. Winner of the Linda Corrente Memorial Prize, an Academy of American Poet’s University Prize, and a nominee for a Pushcart Price, she is a featured poet in The American Poetry Review Jan/Feb 2020 issue. 

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