Samyak Shertok

Landlocked one leg, one leg seaborne;
halved by double consciousness; native
of no man’s land; son of the wild honey hunter
who shops syrup at Smith’s; untranslation-
haunted; I write of mother in my not-mother
                  In my dream, Apa appears alive:
“Siddhartha left the palace to be reborn
under the bodhi. Lotus is mud, moon, rain.
Breathed lip to lip, every story is nomadic.”

Do we all migrare: pass into a new condition?
Are we all natives—nativus: born in bondage—
walking toward no-border?
                                                     A bird of passage,
a pilgrim—a peregrine—I will fly, nostalgic
for root—nostos: return home, algos: pain.



no fly
no worm
but a beetle
in the backyard
of my Salt Lake City apartment
his phosphorous
to the wrong audience

they stole
fire from Agni
Ama pointed from the window
at the nomadic
open opening
in the juniper grove
Agni’s wrath
holds their mother his captive third eye
now they wander
the dark
looking for her

I whispered
the secret
to my fourth-grade hive
they queened me
then Science Sir laughed
they’re looking
for their wives

that night
I caught
the fire-thieves
in my fist
crushed their drunken lamps
my palms
a faux flame
for the moths

twice I was
once her no-water song
stilled me
on her lap
once Apa’s fury backhand
bolted no-home for her
her own mother left her at ten
an heirloom
I can’t pass on

she’ll leave me

morse code
of cold light
you know
between cupid and nyctibiid
a dit
yet no one
descends upon you
in this light-soiled

in the stone house window
alone counts
the dirt stars
that are forsaking her
even now

I’m the one
who left

you flawless
machinery of lumen
fly far
fly fire
fly prodigal
in new moon you won’t be here
on the ryegrass blade
every breath
here here