Poem 47 In Solidarity: On Istiklal

by David Shook

On Istiklal

Mustache flecked with chicken pudding,
the ice cream trickster juggles scoops,
flips cones for tips,
never smiles.

Perched behind his analog scale,
the salesman invites my mass aboard,
a lira for my passage. Generous,
he rounds up, gifts me weight I have not earned.

The needle’s thin tongue trembles
when I lift my boot in explanation.
Today he’s weighed at least 400 kilos for
the chestnuts he’ll eat walking home.

The weight that’s crossed this city means I’m nothing.
Luxor’s obelisk re-righted with manpower and a plan,
a trough of lokum heavy like a coffin
but filled with sweeter meat.

For all I weigh, I weigh almost nothing,
I increase the earth’s gravitational pull
by an insignificant degree,
this street will not remember me.

Still: I will not be rounded up nor rounded down.

          Look! / Hey! / Dumb-cluck! / Chuck your twanging noise-box.
—Nâzim Hikmet

David Shook

David Shook

David Shook grew up in Mexico City before studying endangered languages in Oklahoma and poetry at Oxford. His debut collection of poems, Our Obsidian Tongues, was published by Eyewear Publishing in 2013. He has translated Roberto Bolaño’s Infrarealist manifesto, indigenous Mexican poetry from the Isthmus Zapotec, and oral poetry by the Burundian Batwa. He served as Translator in Residence at Britain’s Poetry Parnassus at The Southbank, in 2012. There he premiered his covertly shot documentary about Equatorial Guinean poet Marcelo Ensema Nsang. Shook lives in Los Angeles with his wife, the poet and pastor Syd Shook, where he edits Molossus and Phoneme Media. http://davidshook.net

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One response to “Poem 47 In Solidarity: On Istiklal

  1. Bravo! Brilliant. Thank you.

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