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have you heard the word about all / our past lives?

Poetry | Poetry Tuesday, poetry
March 28, 2023

suddenly struck by the knife of nostalgia i miss
my brother and the days i walked into the sun
knowing i couldn’t burn. why won’t my body let me go
back. old love is the killer of old men, its appendages rearing
up within their thin chests. i wanted to be good
or i wanted to be god—in my country there is
a difference. have you heard the word about all
our past lives? did you know they’re in the air again
settling upon our skin,
hoping we’ll let them in?

dhaka 1971: a man walks from border to border
holding the war in his fist and crying out to thralls.
he’s not in love with anyone but the trees his mother
grew up in. there are forty-four and he’s afraid
of torches, lightning, the cruelty of the untested.
at night, his heart gapes open, defenseless
and beaded with fear. sometimes he is a
specter. sometimes a sword, but every yell across the moor
is a vow of violence he cannot answer.

west virginia 2005: a girl lays on the hills of a false
motherland and asks the sky to swallow her.
she wants the garden in her stomach, wants to
wake every day on the crest of another’s
searching cells. across the lake, a round swan boat
drifts. no one inside it. the pinkwhite head
curls to touch its tailfeathers, and the girl tries
to mimic this, but her mouth is dark and soft
and the swan’s is yellowred and luminous, seeking
what she cannot yet see.

egypt, i am dying. india, i am
dying. east pakistan, i am, bangladesh, i am,
america, i am, america
america, i am eating through
your sediment to tell you something.
i am uprooting your sick buildings,
swallowing your stolen rivers.
as my tongue grazes the fossils they thought
lost (the giant singing sacrum, the emboldened
flooded femur) i forget what. no matter
america, no matter,
i swear
i’ll strike the death out
of you. some i