Name constellations after deceased birds or daughters
buried at birth, who grow into trees, whose branches

scratch at unattainable sky and relieve it of cloud
and condensation. Jolt mood with measured

dose of caffeine and vicodin, a chance for open
appreciation of dilapidated barns in Ohio –

countryside bulls with shaved horns, pesticide
sprinklers more giant than giants, the happily

fading myths of hunting fires, consumption.
Zabiha turns irrelevant when life leading

up to the jugular cut Bismillahi wallahu
‘Akbar [Allahumma minka wa laka
Allahumma taqabbal minnee] is caged
is compressed bone to bone

barred en masse, screaming
accept it from me a rigid reality.

Time accumulates the before and after
the finances of a funeral, dirt numeric

by the handful, by the gatherers, the bouquets
the wrongness of dinner plates for the animated

carrion, looking to pick apart the story.
We read a retelling of Icarus in stanzas

while wax melts the living space, softens
the dark in meter – the light is a gradient

luminance, opposite of hopping children
on the sidewalk, to adults in the parking lot

empty shopping carts. Not once is said
blood, politics, ordinary, purchase.

But we look upward to find her
there she is the bird that spawns

and she appears to move vast
but it is we who inch below vastly.


Published in Stonecoast Review.

Urdu Lesson at Beaconhouse Preschool, Pakistan

Brown Girl, Brown Girl