Creative Work Poetry


by Tamara Al-Qaisi-Coleman
“You watched men dig holes deep into the earth
Until their straw hats disappeared into the black
Dumping bodies of sugar mill workers into these mass graves”

The rickety window gives way to a hidden slat in the roof
You can levy off of the oak tree up the up, and up

You sit and watch the sky
The grackles flutter in their packs and as the
Ease of an evening smoke soothes you 

You imagine that you are that lone bird 
Who circles above 
Watching this sleepy street

You wondered what your little body would feel like
Until it was you gliding on summer winds

Quarantine brought excavators and cranes
To the town’s pristine cul de sacs
You and the grackles float over the newly mounded dirt
In search of the dead armadillo

You follow the curve of the bayou 
Suddenly, Oyster Creek gives way to a graveyard
There’s a woman there with flowers

You remember her Something
familiar about 
her shaking hands

You’ve been here before
Except the houses that lined the block weren’t here Instead the fields were lined with pecan trees
                 cramped metal shacks

The people who lived here piled together
You and your grackle friends would
Perch in the rusted holes and watch the flies buzz

It smelled like sweet sugar and the sweat
Of a Texas summer
Men yelled and there were sugar
Clouds that would roll in when the sun set

You watched men dig holes deep into the earth
Until their straw hats disappeared into the black
Dumping bodies of sugar mill workers into these mass graves

You never liked human calls, they wailed like lost wolves
As twilight lingered you swore you would never forget how
Clear a sunset is reflected in the puddled marshes circling Bulls Bayou

Thick white clouds reflected pink in these pools
Like the world made of cotton candy
You imagined as a child

The boy who lived in the house with the green door carved
His name into the wet cement
A year after the Brazos spilled into public sidewalks 
And drowned Malvina’s Little Boxes

The woman in the graveyard set her flowers down and kissed the gravestone
Her ring shines in the light, the same one her father wore As you lunge for the gleaming object you remember  the girl with the ball of tin foil

She would run across the open field, before they put in the stones
Taunting you with her ball of light
When the bodies of her loved ones were unmarked

You settle into the dirt and pick at the white speck of leftover sugar-wind
Wondering why even in death they cannot escape
Imperial​ Prison

Drowned in white     
The funeral director was buried among the masses
The land is said to be blessed by saints
Isidro the patron saint of farmers

About the Writer: Creator and former Editor of the award-winning magazine Shards through the University of Houston, Tamara Al-Qaisi-Coleman is a bi-racial Muslim writer and artist. She holds dual Bachelor’s degrees in Creative Writing and History. She is the Managing Editor of Defunkt Magazine. Her interests are Middle Eastern History, culture, linguistics, and biracial identity. She as a featured performer at The Museum of Fine Arts and Houston Grand Opera’s event “The Art of Intimacy” January 16, 2020. Her fiction, poetry, essays, interviews and translation publications can be found or are forthcoming in (Fiction) Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, Scintilla Magazine, Paper Trains Journal, The Bayou Review: The Women’s Issue. (Essays, interviews, and translations) Glass Mountain, Volume 21, Dead Eyes  Literary Magazine Volume .01, and Defunkt Magazine. Her visual Artistry can be found or is forthcoming in Cosumnes River Journal, Sonder Midwest Review, Wordpeace Magazine, and The Blue Minaret. 

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