GUN IS A PART OF SPEECH
The night Babel collapsed, our town brim with dirge—
how it once brimmed with rural dust.
each adult male turned philosopher, digging into loam.
thumb, asserting clay in cursive brightness.
here, I pray lush grain into waiting palm.
sorrow, blooming from the soft of your skin.
your body toppled over in worship—the way
an inverted comma mourns a letter halfway; aiming for nearness.
the word in quote holding dead syllables:
language handpicked—bone-clean as thread from a map of wound.
I assume life ushers grief as a sibilant tearing the mouth & the roof our bodies,
where teenagers lay lapping blood soup.
when I question Ma for things the universe restrains,
my loin makes the first count.
the universe, loosening its grip with each loss that turns into luster.
in the aftermath of war, Ma folds the small of her into a corner,
supplicating blindly on vinyl floor.
a worship whitening the wall.
the room’s mouth—sealed shut.
shutter that takes the thumping & fist of intruders
who break past doors, seeking bodies to gaslight into silence.
“does it trigger you – to descend from a lineage of guns,”
the bullet interrogates my tremor.
the language for run, plastered to my tongue.
I attest to trauma that precedes the assault.
the Union Jack, flaccid as a heartbeat pulsing in the dying heat.
I attest to black soots—the way it troubles the larynx.
there are no words to say: in the spelling of ‘boom’,
gun is a part of speech in a dialect Ma cannot afford.
see how my country assimilates gunshots the way a consonant
takes schwa /ə/ into custody, but do not take Ma under its wing.
the vowel, upturned as a rifle.
a boy ago, Ma hands me a list of the unmentionable.
If they come blazing, say ‘sorry’.
If they come for your throat, do not plead the blood.
they too, are attentive in their want to draw blood from us.
we stretch phonemes across our breastbones, curious for sound at interval.
I owe my asthma to all the inhaling this town denies me.
the way the air, by default, slice through our midriff.
how we blur into breathlesness.
I mourn a town that would not mourn me in return.
an editor tells me to tone down on grief, each time I begin a poem without birds.
I would have him know, I lack the patience for soft feathered imagery,
because we were raised to outpace bullets.
say—I could language my grievance without soots afflicting my larynx,
I would demand for a throat fluting worship.
I would demand to dream in past perfect tense:
where my being alive isn’t dependent on a gun’s pace.
tissues of clay, unfolding to brown our bodies.
we cut our lungs open & melody spills from it.
tell me, aren’t we deserving of a sound that do not turn the living to corpse?