samar abulhassan  elise ficarra

Now the night glasses unfurl their scripts  how many days was the wa-

unraveling certain words you trek thru wood rockets—I smell nighttrees you smell burning
not to
—his name passed from dream to tablet. his name on a list. tacked and parsed. arrested. 
SENSATION we will build a WALL—how not to—the paper is sinuous soft shocked and
. the missile repeats itself. you are contained in foliage. cold water composes enuf to
carry me
. sheaves.  white while falling. itself in a flurry. horrific pictured (paper in mouth—how
not to) SPEILS brushed up against pulpy our SUBLIME atrocity this leafy press is perfume  scrap
metal say you draw a line from here to here look closer smoke and birds. their legs  letters searing sand.

 I don’t mean to startle you like this. “This is not a closed investigation”

unraveling certain worlds while we can. careful where you fling your words or bills  they’re
coming for you
                                                      STILLS cold water for your mosquito bites, long live the stains of              
                       summer  figs come down in a flurry

                                                                                        go inside with paper straws
                                                                                        nudging breath toward color           

                     to de-pigmetize my brother’s jail suit for my mother forever stung by blinking
                  ushering in a new kind of orange, not orange alert or the one-piece kind his limbs moving inside/outside, chewing on his name

     offer instead:    a flickering warmth

sing a long (misremembered)

                           your life has become rather sensational
                          you went to a sensational high school
                         this is a state-funded sensation
                                                                                        : how many hits, swollen face or
stomach, sweeping ginger tea bags

                                             I smell nighttrees, you smell burning
                                                            summer of skin inflammations


worry that your words might bring hives to the arms of your friends
worry that you are spilling too much worry into non-worry zones
worry that you will be considered an enemy combatant
worry that you will become a ROBOT on metal springs, battery powered while your
body is detained

                                                      ‘twas a twilight zone experience

                             in the colony names filled sheets
                             I can tell you mine because it means nothing
                             heavy boots        the sound of running

                                          bullet-ridden clothing passed between hands

                                                                                     “bring the body”


in the morning when I smell burning do you
              smell trees/ how close                                                       (this block is self-contained)
    can you put your face    to the oven
before his eyebrows singe?       

                                                                                    they’re just—they’ve been




                                                                               because woods  brushed shoulders
                                                   last night for an instant a new coat SECRET AND COERCED and shoes meaning
             pasta all week
TO DETAIN INDEFIN  how are your plants? lexicons yearning                  How Is It To Be Caught? rose geranium nutmeg why spread poison
                                                                                                  birds pecking glass

night drunken on red   legs  flew from yard to yard finally
                                                knees resting near the football field (so close to home!)
                                               your spine unreceptive to stretches           
 corridors leading to the detainees too vivid for your imagining

                                                               the lungs are wide-reaching, blowing holes in fences

honey cake spiked with rose water
lifted out of the oven in some distant city
carried over to you  a tinge of

                                                       camaraderie among monks or laypeople

                                                                       she struggled to correct the young boy’s grammar since
                                                                       the mishaps of the sentence carried a whiff of delicacy
the drifty
as she writes this
keeps her closer
                                                       indefinite fields      open         room to land

while                                                          those detained          figures      metal and doors     

     spin stories              thickening files

compelling                     life returns “to normal”
        for whom?    

                                                                    jailed boy’s mother fainted on TV
news filled with “execution style”
                                                                  U-Haul offers bright furniture dollies
index finger (staticy) rushing down lists
                                    which team are you on.

exercise in empathy: trade
the birds don’t distinguish  could offer massive transport  wing to balcony  taste of your cigarette
fishermen play cards all day while waters toss and turn in oil                            
                            their fish still looked fishy, knee deep in slouchy spines

“can’t talk right now, gotta pick up the kids from school”(Mediterranean Sea, quoted in 


                                                      the story was set to repeat: follow the money
                         her shoes were out of season and left a trail  the coat was
                         camouflage false press leads fake letters stolen identities
we’re accustomed to inexactitude and shallow       debris
                         in the pool     a fence is a gesture we expect traffic and labor  
                         follow the money ABOUT $33.8 BILLION IN FUNDING TO HELP SECURE
                  THE HOMELAND
  smile at the camera like falling in love

   meanwhile at the
WHITE HOUSE H.R. 6166, meet Award-winning puppeteer -- who     
   recently wrote My Life as a Furry Red Monster  and
S.B 3930 a forensic anthropologist who
   pens  mystery novels that have won awards. . . 

                                                                                       take this pill and say: our lives are in danger

   it’s july so why not go swimming nature’s foreign and i’ve lost my composure

I hike to the fort. It’s empty. This my______.  Stronger after dying. We drink tea. Heating up. Diving. Driving. Eying flocks. Bring Cash. ROAM the nightstreets residual hauntings. Heavy boots. Hot toddies.

                 his face looking back from the glass. pick a card. any card. any card will do.

   tall vessel of steamed milk     calm on the one hand         time zone calculation:
my family will break fast in thee hours                their phone voices a rough silk
of just awakened, wonder about the corners of their lips
                                                                                          have you heard about the new congress bill
                  afraid of normalcy    M. still dishes out the same advice
                                                                                                                           at the white house 

                                        Dial tone. The secretaries voices are receptive and there are no lady cops.
                                                          The TV boxes are big and have knobs not buttons. The men are skinny.
                              The women buxom. We believe in the press and the president. Eventually they loose their
jobs. Defamation begins.                                 Capers: once they get away its all downhill
                              We’re coddling terrorists. Pull up beside me on the couch   massage the hard bits.
                              speedy readers order execu-        begins  regimen of blackberry essence
                                                                                      for “matching the will”

Roam the nightsheets
                                                                           fertile liquids asking to be disposed of  good health just an idea
                                                                           fingertips sprinkling  meditation cushion     upon hearing
the words terror boy she could not dispose of the image of her brother’s body blinking  in cyber
                                                          likes to IM her friends to say, “you okay”
unfair to be angry at boots
protecting feet                                 leaps taken in “good faith”                            g. taking E.M.T. test today so 
she can                                                                                                                                      help with  situations     abroad
                              cultivate majesty’s flower
                              not precious negative space
                              let purple direct

                                                                                                         Sometimes the fancy
                                                                     words don't provide the kind of

                                                                                       sweet spot the kind you take home and open your window to
                                                                       humming birds while his face soars and you think I can’t say this stuff
                                                        and you keep going because you remember how that color tasted on your tongue
                                        folded in the linen envelope    joy when she confessed

                                                                  and groaned in public banging the side of the podium     
                                                     the many ways to write this     as many as the leaders many heads infiltrating
                                        the water supply     the grains of charcoal in the filter the water runs through                                                          remember
                                                                 we cupped hands and drunk the river    of melted snow?

                                                                               e‘re wading though     dense fog because they
                                                     got their fog juice and screamer fog machine and let loose a thick cloud

                                                                                       atch out!    we call ahead    someone’s knocking into brick           
                                         partially intoxicated        the voice-over says

                                                                                        go ahead  fall in love     and someone
                                       wants to know if it’s medicine or poison    ‘cas what’s  the difference my
                                          sleeve’s covered     and we’re   stumbling on the curb           
                                       gathering        moisture in our hair    we’ve
                         been here    at the lake         wrapped in histories before

                                    ROAMING the nightstreets    they were my boots

                                                    typical horror motif: gaze into blur

                                                                    what’s being kept /out/’s already in
                                                                    waiting’s potential the event’s logic
                                                                     “things will move accordingly”
                                                                      a ladder
                                                                      a rope
                                                                      a vine


    i come to the locked gates of the city and pass through them no one sees me do this. it’s
not a theoretical question though I’m thirsty all the time. my back is not abstract. i have feet. the
wound speaks to the serpent. the serpent speaks to the wound. i am given a present. i am given.
choose: a spoon or a straw. i select a bowl which is my body and empties. a bowl made of earth is
out-of-place on asphalt. dipped in water turns to clay and cinder. dipped in water speaks. dipped
in water bleeds. we are playing hopscotch tossing bracelets over squares of colored chalk. falcons
chatter overhead. they say: a body can assume any form.


                                                        have you heard their speeches            i could have                
                                                                                                               done a better job

                                                                              what’s being kept out    are your giant paws waving us in
                                                      toward a floating dock  sturdy but slippery chalky pastels not your
                                        childhood sidewalk  but i love the way you prepare your tea, syrupy

                    love so hard you’ll burst  open a window store for those passing by  smile through arms  bangled
                  wrists or businessmen
                                                           love your pottery     earthenware versus

! urgency the plot suggests
                                                                                                        already our heels need sharpening
                                                                         i come to the shell of the back  a wishy washy fragrance running
over  you lean into me to adjust my back  my face in your hair  trusting the opening of the
diaphragm or else something backstage 

                                          new rugs or “did the man with fez come in”

no, but the birds did, the ones we discriminate against                                 the street kind
                                                                                                                     or bold
wanting to gift you a dress sequined with

                                                                                                    returning, reviewing the summer’s
events seek to                                                                        recall  let’s not go there   city meets you   
halfway                                                                                       loving you harder  palming the small of

                                                            already the pomegranates
                                                            their seeds sprinkled among flowers, a japanese


«±  ±»

samar abulhassan moved to San Francisco six years ago after completing an MFA at Colorado State University. She works as a substitute teacher in Bay Area public schools, blowing whistles and pretending at algebra, and sometimes writes during kindergarten recess.
elise ficarra lives and works in San Francisco, where she is the business manager of the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University. Her book, Swelter, came out in 2005 from Fourteen Hills Press. She is an affiliate artist at the Headlands Center for the Arts,  where she keeps watch on the defunct Nike Missile site.




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