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.