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Four Poems, by Jaswinder Bolina

 

Mar-a-Lago-a-Mar

If we aren’t guilty of ignorance, we’re guilty
of evil, we giggle to each other at the hotel bar

the color of a sea the color of wisteria pretty
as the past where we will live one day

upon a flotilla of detergent bottles upon
that sea, breezy as the dilettantes of history,

which is rich with wisteria and dilettantes
drinking Sazeracs in hotel bars that used to be

so well-regarded when white people wore their finest
laundry and ate snails there chortling regatta

or eugenic or frittata at each other,
and now all of that is lost to the progress,

which is as unnerving and relentless as it is
unnerving and relentless, its infants arriving

insolvent, demanding succor, new weirdos
ascendant, the progress insistent as a refugee

or a tidewater or the whole of the thunderful sea
rising to eat us, we giggle to each other,

like we wouldn’t eat it first!

 

Terrible Elegy

Getting along is not the objective.
—Rush Limbaugh

I believe a person can celebrate the death
of a terrible person and not be a terrible person,
that it’d take a princely vintage of arrogance to fret
one’s marginal guts might get rung up by a hypercritical
lightning for so minor and sentimental a transgression
and upon a landscape littered with heavy metal
monuments to Stonewall Jackson and Andrew Jackson
beneath the President like a heavy metal broadcast
antenna above the law in its metal-heavy riot gear,
and it might take a dafter brand of arrogance to believe
one would not be struck down like a man looming
alone with an 8-iron on an ominous fairway,
but I have neither motive nor opportunity
to discern which of these applies in your terrible case,
so raucous and high am I in the conga line
at the luau on the night of your illustrious passing,
which not even the least terrible among us should lament,

cha-cha-cha.

 

The Old Country

The APR on the Sapphire
Visa is bringing me down,

and the mania of the evening
commute is bringing me down.

I’m a bogged log in a rainforest
of traffic bringing me down

in my Toyota in the local lanes
of the interstate upon which

it rains tonight like it rains
everywhere every night

except in the Atacama Desert,
where it hardly rains at all.

The rock salts glitter
in a high wind as we shiver,

my donkey and me arriving there
at a puddle solitary and round

as a rocks glass and half as deep,
and kneeling beside him, I give

his oafish ear a tug toward the drink,
which he refuses in favor of me,

who misses him most of all I deserted
in that desert home I called home,

lo, those many deserts ago.

 

Actual Elegy

I’m trying to say something that feels like hearing
your voice again for the first time.

It isn’t working. I keep ending up at myself,
the part of myself that accidentally believes

in g-d sometimes, like how I killed a June bug
yesterday abruptly landed on my neck,

then sat up half the night in a hard chair,
asking the ceiling fan to forgive me

as if all it helicoptered aloft might drop down
and crush my sin then and there.

But it didn’t. I’m still here. And you never are.
Which is the trouble with this place.

 

Jaswinder Bolina is the author of Phantom Camera, Carrier Wave, The 44th of July, Of Color, and The Tallest Building in America. He teaches on the faculty of the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing at the University of Miami.

1 thought on “Four Poems, by Jaswinder Bolina

  1. Lovely work. Favorite line, “or a tidewater or the whole of the thunderful sea
    rising to eat us, we giggle to each other,” beautifully rendered.

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