Monday, September 18, 2006

Joel Tan's 9-11 Poem

Joel Tan

letter for my half brother at war

what drifts into yr mouth when you’re asleep
gra n i te grit desert ash you gurgle bubble
b r e a th dreams of sand babiesmy hair has grown
since yo u ’ ve gone i’ve vowed not
to cut it until your safe return brother
i am a ribbon waiting
when you
chew i chew father’s tongue thick veined
my boys my boys he brags my only boy s
what music s o o thes you there
when you are plagued by
the tak tak takking of te e th rattling
windows the tinny shrill screams doors ripping
from their hinges bombs smarter than ever
corpses piled high sweet sculpture of apocalypse
bang banging the slip so sorry to inform
you he who so bravely fought defended
the green paper fat of it
the rising price of oil of it
utopian drones presidential sanctions
papal war cries the patriotic cheers of football fans
we bloody our fingers
yellow, ora n ge, red
refuse to fly forego holidays until the madness settles
what must it be like there? the endless waiting
a township older than some messiah
a township shrouded in darkness military
c a rnival of limbs poison gas perfume
ah, what joy to be surrounded by
muscular monasticism america’s
multicultural quilt of skin freckly pink
the fine brush hairs of youth brown the black
backwood trailers sweaty patches of the working
poor & that impossible sweat smell hostages
screaming rusting the saw tooth blades
a nation of headless bodies take arms &
claim glory sweet glory
genital hungry curs the blinding
bulbs flashing and digital streams te l l i n g
on itself just so justice
or so it seems can exact itself it is useless
to think papa’s provincial
lullabies could hum away the din of a thousand
locusts descending
here you sweet you
nuzzle close to my breast i shall tell
you a sto ry about our ancestors & how their seed
spills from the corners of our mouths
when we lie or steal or sin
out there in the heat of
the waking world a godly mountain
there buried beneath sinai a vast
graveyard of nameless zealots who ripped
b u rned starved their bodies bloodied
their tender backs to devil away
lust their guts grinding with ache
you you as eve ry good boy should will
bring toge ther this ghost ly militia with supple and pucker
offer up the smallest
of sacrifices the giddy thrill of your skin
the greasy slide rhythmic buck
sweet curve of jaw and gr i p
you half brother salt harbinge r
ga ther the gulls and rain
an ocean down upon
this ancient city.


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