Poetry: Jaswinder Bolina

Pornograph, with Americana

Don’t move to Calgary, Fatimah,
have sex! possibly even with me
if you’re willing, not even in wedlock!
possibly backwards with one knee
on the vanity, the shower heaving steam
to the Big Band webcast out of KCEA,
Atherton, my mother napping downstairs
in the great room, she won’t know you
scaled the carport, ducked an eave
with a joint and a sixer of Stroh’s,
my kurta in ribbons now, your lengha
undone, I put every part of you
inside my mouth and bite down
a little as if I’m a rototiller in heat,
you the churning earth, and I love you,
honest injun, as the sun slinks
behind the Fitch’s Big Boy across
the interstate, fireflies make erratic
synapses above the drainage ditches,
the fir trees sway like frat boys at a kegger,
and the neighbors who watch us framed
in the naked window, who wish us deported
to a darker corner of the duplex,
they can finger their hymnals, Fatimah,
and glare, we won’t go anywhere
till we’re finished, Waheguru!
Waheguru! we won’t go.

Ekphrastic Poem

To the owners of Brâncușis, of box seats
and equity, of assorted rare charcuterie,

you owners of Rothkos, of Riviera flats
and lullabies of port, of derivatives,

de Koonings, of tailors and decorators
and sommeliers, you owners of the want

for a sommelier, I never do cellar much
Yellowtail in my Frigidaire. I pick it up

quick at the Walgreens, down it cheap
with a jar of olives, a brick of cheddar

on the fire escape afternoons your options
are vesting, your markets combusting,

your huddled assets yearning to spree free,
you owners of Pradas, of Teslas,

of a Calder and a major minor canvas
by Jasper Johns, here’s my shtick

and my portfolio. I’m an artist also,
horn-rimmed, buzz-cut, a real Marxist,

honest to God. Here’s my portrait
of a boy in a blue frock with a Glock

among bluebells. Here’s my mosaic
of steam, my triptych of beef,

a mixed media panel of a bridge
in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

I’m not really a Marxist. I’m a Master
of Fine Arts, honest. I want a Tesla too,

a brokerage firm, the mahogany office,
and tenure. I earned it. You have no idea

how hungry I earned it those years
momma was as an arc welder, daddy

worked secretary. They didn’t give a damn
about my art, honest, the only thing

those mopes ever covered was the rent,
lunch money, the cell phone, and gas.

We Bystander

we goose on the loose we mouse

in the house we fox boxed in

by hounds we stag flagging

beneath the blind we creature

in the feature we beast

into meat we phantasm

spook and gook we haji

through the crosshairs

nigger in the sightlines

raghead the collateral we

the police-beat placards

in the boneyard we what

the drones drop ticks

in the kill list the statesmen count

and the gunmen counter

the demagogues thump

and the holy men thunder

duck duck bang tocks the fuse

in the fanny pack duck duck

bang barks the muzzle

of the carbine duck duck bang

breaks the story in the newscast

we watch we wait grunts

in the game plan we plucked

we dropped duck duck bang

These poems are from a new book manuscript I’m completing titled The 44th of July. The project of that book as well as these poems is to disrupt America’s view of itself. The results of the recent election are precisely why that disruption feels so vital to me. We are not who we think we are. But, I still believe we can be.

bolina-colorJaswinder Bolina is author of Phantom Camera (2013) and Carrier Wave (2007). His recent poems are collected in the digital chapbook The Tallest Building in America (2014). His essays have appeared at The Poetry Foundation dot org and in anthologies including The Norton Reader. He teaches in the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Miami.