Kismet Al-Hussaini
In a Jar of Lilac



The house faced east. It had a blank face. When it rained the gate swung shut.

          Engines hummed. The lake was lonely. I ran up and down delivering an urgent
message, a buoy tracing four flights of stairs.

A jelly turned green, yellow, disappeared at nine feet.

Seaweed strangled the ladder.

A narrow fish grazed my hand. I thought it was you, pale stone;
          shale rushed out to greet the taillights of a boat.


We dragged the obelisk over the gravel and hurled it into the gorge.

Said a prayer.

You had it completely; it never budged.

The boathouse repeated orange on black water.

In the basement mint with miniature stairs.

I was morbid, God was in a jar; he was curled, cancerous, tarnishing his copper latch.


Rook Sitting on a Doorstep


I often choked on the adroit history concealed in the petticoats of my queen.

           It was after that she chose to impersonate; her fate solidified in the yellow court, in
an airway of birds.

                      Wonderful, she read, Divine. What nonsense settles in this sphere?
                                it brings a shield, a silence so full the tongue creaks—

Every gnarl and stoop tries to dislodge the you you have miserably outgrown

           as you land sideways in a pool of tar and disappear,

                                              a spike of feathers in the onyx-gleam.