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Two Poems by Safwan Khatib | Word Riot

August 15, 2015      

Two Poems by Safwan Khatib


Say a bulb sways from the highest
ceiling. There is a man, feathers
hot-glued to his back, a splayed vulture

in the fridge. He stands on the seat
of his mother’s cracked-wood
armchair, trying to reach the light.

His mother’s been dead awhile
and cooks soup in the kitchen, wails
about Chicago men to the flowers

blooming away the walls. In the papers they
are the mother and son who once wrote
horribly violent haiku. I drive to the house

to hear it. But I just end up beside him
on another chair, maybe his father’s rocker,
under the soft light. We twist the bulb

for years. In the end I am left
to hand him the hollow shell of glass, to feel
the wire into his throat. Out of love he breaks

the glass over his tongue. Out of love he laughs
the house dark. We fall in that darkness,
our skin loosening like mad, so glad

we can see and never know it again,
and never need to know it.


In this ritual I see a body
as a body, the ground as a vessel

of light. Father, see, you were
gone once. Now, into your mind – into

the great room of it where
she stands, her hands

burning against the lamp, where
she sings the notes

of your life back to you in another
tongue – I come with gifts.

headshot1About the author:

Safwan Khatib is from Indianapolis, Indiana and currently lives in New York City where he is an undergraduate student at Columbia University. His poetry most recently appears in The Adroit Journal.

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