Manistee Lights


Poem by Samiya Bashir

Brother I don’t either understand this
skipscrapple world that is–these
slick bubble cars zip feverish down
paved rushes of notcorn of notbeets
of notcabbage and the land and the land–

You should know, man, nothing
grows down here anymore except
walloped wishes and their gouged out
oil cans. Where bloodroot might span our

distance sit these bars land mined in the sand
lit from the inside eye these cages they twist us
they tornado us. No.

I don’t understand. Not those grates
not the grackles circling overblind
all perched so close to the beach there
we could smell winter freeze. In spring

did the wind bring the scent of smelt?
Remember? Even strike years mother
found smelt by the fingery bagful
and fried them almost whole.
It was almost enough.

-Samiya Bashir

Used by permission.
Originally published in Taos Journal of Poetry and Art.

Samiya Bashir’s second book of poems, Gospel, was a finalist for both the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and along with her first collection, Where the Apple Falls, the Lambda Literary Award. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Poet Lore, Michigan Quarterly Review, Crab Orchard Review, Cura, The Rumpus, and Encyclopedia Vol. 2 F-K, and was recently honored by the Aquarius Press Legacy Award and two Hopwood Awards from the University of Michigan. An Ann Arbor, Michigan native and recent NEA Writer in-Residence at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Samiya teaches creative writing at Reed College.

Read more of  Samiya Bashir  poetry on her blog

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