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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, July 6, 2018.
About this Poem 

“This fragment comes out of the latter half of my forthcoming book-length poem Dissolve. In this moment, the poem’s speaker may be offering the reader some kind of strategy for exiting the work. The series of actions: tap, clasp, and ask are ritual movements/utterances that may or may not provide the ways for escaping the poem’s gravity.”
—Sherwin Bitsui

from "Dissolve"

There’s a way out—
walk the dirt road into cerulean dawn, 
tap the windows of cars and trucks 
rattling down highway 77 
with clear fingerprints, 
and clasp the nine eyes of the desert 
shut at the intersection of then and now. 

Ask: will this whirlwind 
connect to that one,
          making them cousins to the knife? 

Will lake mist etched 
on flakes of flood-birthed moonlight 
hang its beard on a tow truck
hoisting up a buck,  	
          butterflies leaking from its nostrils, 
          dark clouds draining off its cedar coat? 

Copyright © 2018 by Sherwin Bitsui. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 6, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Sherwin Bitsui. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 6, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Sherwin Bitsui

Sherwin Bitsui

Sherwin Bitsui is a Diné from the Navajo reservation in White Cone, Arizona, and the author of Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press, 2009).

by this poet

poem

In a cornfield at the bottom of a sandstone canyon,
wearing the gloves of this song tightly over closed ears;
the bursting sun presses licks of flame
into our throats swelling with ghost dogs
nibbling on hands that roped off our footprints
keeping what is

poem
Tonight I draw a raven’s wing inside a circle
	measured a half second
		before it expands into a hand.
	I wrap its worn grip over our feet
		as we thrash against pine needles inside the earthen pot.

He sings an elegy for handcuffs,
	whispers its moment of silence
at the crunch of rush-hour traffic,
and speaks
poem
Point north, north where they walk
in long blankets of curled bark,
dividing a line in the sand,
smelling like cracked shell,
desert wind, river where they left you
calling wolves from the hills,
	a list of names
growling from within the whirlwind.

Woman from the north,
lost sister who clapped at rain clouds.