Poetry

Invertebrate

Nuar Alsadir

You end up ancestral in the shower
with a beating that is your heart
but also pressure to catch the rhythm
of someone else’s story    the idling engine
of the ventriloquist come back with his
beat up case    your voice transposed
to distant chords ^ you’re the kiss
& the impulse to throttle    an atonal
zarzuela   con brio    in pelt time ^
there are so many directions this could take
the moment is invertebrate    no narrative
you’re naked with feelings you don’t
understand    they bend around you like water
the green carpet of your childhood room
Velcro snag of transit Wi-Fi jamming
communication ^ to think of it is to hold
your breath until you fracture inside
the rear window of your Honda
shattered by Jesus Mohammad    prophet
drowsy on meds ^ maybe even God
takes SSRIs    knocks out early
which would explain how we got to this
forshaken place    lorries rolling by
with prefab houses on their backs
& you’re fifteen again    waiting
near the fountain at the Point
Neil Young singing into headphones
don’t let it bring you down     
mind turning
a stripped screw: you did not come              grieved I
then the shift    tectonic    Charles
Gayle’s     everything had to stop right there
^ the thing about appearances is they’re
like phonemes    split off from their roots
so you only see what folds into you
until there’s nothing but folds
you no longer feel the back of your head

Nuar Alsadir is the author of a book of nonfiction, Animal Joy, and two poetry collections, including Fourth Person Singular, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Forward Prize.
Originally published:
June 1, 2022

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