February 15, 2015

Leila Chatti

THE WORDS COME, THEY CHOKE ME

for Deah, Yusor, and Razan

Too many times I have written
this poem: blood a dark ink,
moon a bullet hole.

My tongue flaps useless
as a bird. The words
come, they choke me.

Somewhere, always, smoke.
Somewhere, always, something
burning, something snuffed.

The sun set again,
bled like a wound.
I stood; nothing could

move me. The world went on
spinning tiredly, & like that
I survived another day.

I breathe & life
keeps coming.
It feels simple enough

that I know to be suspicious.
Tonight, dark as a flint chip, candles
each a pinprick. I swallow

a flame within me,
shelter it as the sky
dons her black veil.

Poets Respond
February 15, 2015

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__________

Leila Chatti: “This week, I woke up to the news that a few miles away, three Muslim students had been shot and killed ruthlessly—an execution. As a fellow North Carolina State University student and Arab-American Muslim, this tragedy resonated on a deeply personal level; always, horrors like these raise the quiet fear, “Could I be next?” That the question exists is an ugly thing. I have spent days trying to find the words to articulate this grief, grief at a pain that seems unending. I struggle to speak about it, but I feel I have to try. This is my attempt at that.” (website)

Note: This poem has been published exclusively online as part of a project in which poets respond to current events. A poem written within the last week about an event that occurred within the last week will appear every Sunday at Rattle.com. Our only criterion for selection is the quality of the poem, not its editorial position; any opinions expressed are solely those of the poet and do not necessarily reflect those of Rattle’s editors. To read poems from past weeks, visit the Poets Respond page. Interact on our Facebook group. To have a poem considered for next week’s posting, submit it here before midnight Friday PST.