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from the March 2010 issue

Black Lips

You who chew on my solitude
with your televisions on
You who attend my funeral every morning
to light a candle
I will drive a verb into your eyes
I will plant a beat in your chests

I don’t have a cent in my heart
or smooth talk and epithets hidden in my pocket
I scatter my beauty on concrete streets
I dip my hands in poets’ blood
I write everything in 9 mm caliber
There’s no one for me to respect
A twenty-one-year-old Muslim punk
I bear no responsibility
I spit words at 120 B.P.M.

You man in the street!      
You portion out love in inches
Purchase love with credit cards
Trumpet your prowess
At your screen you download erections
None of you can touch my body
I paint my lips black every night

Listen to me, you who leaf through my defeats!
You want me to be a straight line, a man and not a boy
You want me to be a well-sewn jacket
Polite and politic
You tie my arms to watch hands
You try to jam me into this world
Can you, like me,
turn words into deeds?
Can you carry springtime in your bellies?
Burn without ashes?

Come let me make you human,
you, Your Honor, who wipe guilt from your beard
you, esteemed journalist, who tout death
you, philanthropic lady, who pat children’s heads without bending down
and you who read this poem, licking your finger—
To all of you I offer my body for genuflection
Believe me
one day you will adore me like Christ

But I’m sorry for you sir—
I do not negotiate with chartered accountants of words
with art critics who eat from my hand
You may, if you desire, wash my feet
Don’t take it personally

Why do I need bullets if there are so many words
prepared to die for me?

Translation of "Mavra Cheili." Copyright Jazra Khaleed. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2010 Peter Constantine. All rights reserved.

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