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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
1.
I haven’t _________
since smoke dried to salt in the lakebed,
since crude oil dripped from his parting slogan,
the milk’s sky behind it,
birds chirping from its wig.

Strange, how they burrowed into the side of this rock.
Strange . . . to think,
they "belonged"
and stepped through the flowering of a future
poem

On limbs of slanted light
painted with my mind’s skin color,
I step upon black braids,
oil-drenched, worming
from last month’s orphaned mouth.

Winged with burning—
I ferry them
               from my filmed eyes, wheezing.

Scalp blood in my footprints—
my buckskin

poem

Mother thought:
First we will run, then we will walk.
She asked, “Do we ramble when we speak in tongues?”

Her lack of supervision made this happen.

The dusk, the dawn, everything in between: a mistake.
The morning,
her aching tooth,
the shovel dulled in daylight—