You are here
Say their names… for Shaker Aamer Where to begin? With the taste in your mouth of me or in my mouth? A body you can’t do without? There’s no way to say the stem of your tongue enters a vowel without wounding someone, maybe a livid sky seen by so many people at once, your life tenderly broken… The country dips its head in candlewhite, your body ribboned & seduceable: chalk of stars in your blood, the slippery squid of your heart pumps some unknowable deep. Still you cannot grieve enough or really feel the permission of your body: the rubycolored cloister of your mouth & mind ranging in ether, torn parachute of a cloud on a mountain you’ve never seen & details of your day… You climb a hill in the park, the light unbalanced hands of the trees fading into colorless gold before they let go the leaves & try to figure your connection: the viviparous bodies of words, cleanpink mouths of animals, nerves splayed in the shape of treetops, deltas… You cannot say the broken circle of this life without hooking your own beating heart or imagine your wandering twentytothirtysomethings, mountains you skimmed & deserts in breakups that zigzagged the country somehow confined… Where to begin? With the breath you’re holding? Headful of steam in a kettle? Who asks when you already have or wonders why there are so many words, a tiny dippedsponge in the brain that produces them, flames at the temples & never enough bodies to feel? Cellared dreams & ancestors: how you bent when you inhabited yours towards others, dark treeanchored streets to which your life seemed connected, trees bent in the shape of memory… Justine el-Khazen is a poet and artist whose work is informed by her belief in the power of media, technology and lyric poetry to raise and enrich political awareness. She teaches in the School of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons School of Design in New York City and is a graduate of the Masters in Creative Writing program at UC Davis and of the Draper Program at NYU. Justine’s work has appeared in Matter, Beloit Poetry Journal and The Rattling Wall among others.