Sherwin Bitsui


It came whispering in broken English

a stutter

a twig tweezed from the small of the back.


He reached to pull the apple from her mouth.


Was it asphyxiation?


Should she have leaned away

and not let her hair slip through the cracks in the book?


Was it just theory?

            An inflexible aperture?          

Nazbas and zero

            not to be part of this conversation;

two mirrors reflecting faces waking inside a snow drift?


The beginning is always the argument:

            Arrangements, patterns,

                        Who gets this portion of lamb,

                        Who gets to speak English as a second language.                             


Dogs lap rain water on television during conversations of drought.


This first cycle begins with an erosion of memory –

voices within voices pecking eyelids with velvet beaks

one knee down,

the other, filling its veins with damp white earth.



“Nazbas” is from Shapeshift (University of Arizona Press, 2003).