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Manistee Lights

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.

Added: Wednesday, July 9, 2014  /  Originally published in Taos Journal of Poetry and Art. Used with permission.
Samiya Bashir
Photo by Nina Johnson.

Samiya Bashir makes poems; sometimes using dirt, sometimes merging zeroes and ones, often involving variously rendered text. Often people publish them, which is nice. Samiya is the author of three books of poetry: Field Theories (Nightboat, 2017), winner of the Oregon Book Award’s Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry; plus Gospel (RedBone Press, 2009);  and Where the Apple Falls (RedBone Press, 2005), both Lambda Literary Award  finalists. Her poetry, stories, articles, and editorial work have been featured in numerous publications most recently including Poetry, World Literature Today, Ecotone, HOAX, Callaloo, and Poet Loreamong others. A  collaborative artist and community builder, she has worked with a number of visual and media artists, on projects spanning film, sculpture, artists books, and more. Samiya lives in Portland, Oregon, where she teaches creative writing at Reed College.

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