Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2017  Vol. 16 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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:somewhere I did not learn mow down or mop up

:somewhere I wouldn’t hear your father must come with
me or I must fingerprint your grandmother can you
translate please

:the FBI has my cousins’ computers

:my father says say whatever you want over the phone

:my father says don’t let them scare you that’s what they want

:my mother has a hard time believing anything’s bugged

:my father and I always talk like the world listens

:my father is still on the bus with contraband papers
under his seat as uniforms storm down the aisle

:it was my job to put a cross on each home with dead for

:it was my job to dig graves into the soccer field

:I wrote red tracksuit

:I wrote Shahida headless found beside Saad Mosque
buried in the same grave as the above

:I wrote unidentified fingers found inside Oldsmobile car

:I wrote their epitaphs in chalk

:from my son’s wedding mattress I know this mound’s
his room

:I dropped a knee and engaged the enemy

:I emptied my clip then finished the job

:I took two steps in and threw a grenade

:I took no more than two steps into a room before firing

:in Haditha we cleared homes Fallujah-style

:my father was reading the Koran when they shot him
through the chest

:they fired into the closet

:the kitchen

:the ninety year old

:the stove

:just where was I

:una a una tu cara en todos los buses urbanos

:Here lie the mortal remains of one who in life searched
your face

:call me when you get home

:let’s miss an appointment together

:let’s miss another flight to repeated strip searches

:that Haditha bed with magenta queen sheets and
wood-shelved headboard and blood splattered up the
walls to the ceiling

:they held each other

:they slept on opposing ends wishing one would leave

:mother doesn’t know who I am anymore

:I write Mustapha Mohammad Khalaf 15 months old

:I write Here lies an unknown martyr a big security guard
with a blue shirt found near an industrial area with a
chain of keys

:Martyr unknown only bones

:they ask if I have anything to declare then limit my
response to fruits and nuts

:an American interrupts an A and B conversation to tell
me you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do

:he strikes me as a misstep away from she was asking for it

:what did you expect after fishing Popov from a trash bin

:what did you expect after accepting a marbled palace

:they drag the man who killed my uncle out a hole

:they inspect him for ticks on national television

:no one in my family celebrates

:when the FBI knocks I tell them I don’t have to do
anything I don’t want to do and they get a kick out
of that

:she just laid there and took it like a champ

:she was dying for it

:at a protest a man sells a shirt that reads My dick would
pull out of Iraq

:my mother tape-records my laugh to mail bubblewrapped
back home

:my mother records me singing Ye shabe mahtab mah
miad to khab

:I am singing the moon will come one night and take me
away side street by side street

:sitting on a pilled suburban carpet or picking blue felt
off the hand-me-down couch

:the displaced whatnots

:I practice the work of worms

:how much I can wear away with no one watching

:two generations ago my blood moved through borders
according to grazing seasons

:then a lifeline of planes

:planes fly so close to my head filled with bomblets and
disappeared men

:scaffolding sprouts nooses sagging with my dead

:I burn my finger on the broiler and smell trenches

:my uncle pissing himself

:shopping bags are legs there is half a head in the gutter

:I say Hello NSA when I place a call

:somewhere a file details my sexual habits

:some tribunal may read it all back to me

:Golsorkhi, I know the cell they will put me in

:they put me onto a crooked pile of others to rot

:is this what happens to a brain born into war

:a city of broken teeth

:the thuds of falling

:we have learned to sing a child calm in a bomb shelter

:I am singing to her still  

From Look © 2016 Solmaz Sharif. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press.

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