Checkpoint

- 1970-

each day I enter with open / papers & snake the coiled
wires & barbed cattle chute / Qalandia / & bunker sand

-bagged heads / to study the very ground / & watch oneself
being watched / a ticking watch / other’s hands handing over

to red-haired & fretting / Uzi itchy with questions
& half a world / from his birth / a passportless plastic bag

scuds & tumbles past border / its blue flag blessed by wind /
O to be winged / & not locked in the fate of checkpoints

outside the milk of oxygen / held up / outside the /
in /no man’s / land / to lift outside gravity’s root & float

in the matrix / the mind a stone / bones grinding themselves
like teeth / in this mouth / vacuum-locked / suspended

till he gloves back / the papers / aviators glinting back
this alien’s alien face

More by Philip Metres

Prayer

Wither me to within me:
Welt me to weal me common again:
Withdraw to wear me weary:
Over me to hover and lover again:

Before me to form and perform me:
Round me to rill me liquid incisions:
Behind me to hunt and haunt me:
Down me to drown indecision:

Bury me to seed me: bloom me
In loam me: grind me to meal me
Knead me to rise: raise me to your mouth

Rive me to river me:
End me to unmend me:
Rend me to render me:
 

Hearing of Alia Muhammed Baker’s Stroke

How a Basra librarian
could haul the books each night,
load by load, into her car,

the war ticking like a clock
about to wake. Her small house
swimming in them. How, the British

now crossing the limits
of Basra, the neighbors struck
a chain to pass the bags of books

over the wall, into a restaurant,
until she could bring them all,
like sandbags, into her home,

some thirty thousand of them,
before the library, and her brain,
could finally flood into flame.

For the Fifty (Who Formed PEACE With Their Bodies)

In the green beginning,
     in the morning mist,
          they emerge from their chrysalis

of clothes: peel off purses & cells,
     slacks & Gap sweats, turtle-
          necks & tanks, Tommy’s & Salvation

Army, platforms & clogs,
     abandoning bras & lingerie, labels
         & names, courtesies & shames,

the emperor’s rhetoric of defense,
     laying it down, their child-
          stretched or still-taut flesh

giddy in sudden proximity,
     onto the cold earth: bodies fetal or supine,
          as if come-hithering

or dead, wriggle on the grass to form
     the shape of a word yet to come, almost
          embarrassing to name: a word

thicker, heavier than the rolled rags
     of their bodies seen from a cockpit:
          they touch to make

the word they want to become:
     it’s difficult to get the news
          from our bodies, yet people die each day

for lack of what is found there:
     here: the fifty hold, & still
          to become a testament, a will,

embody something outside
     themselves & themselves: the body,
          the dreaming disarmed body.