Samiya Bashir

Field theories

sold for poker chips
left cold left thawed left

bent into the yawp
ass up

let be
let air



curved space
dark - breath

dark - breath
dark - what?

sold for bluff on blind
left choked

left down
left bent

left passed

How a body grabs a body.
Hungry. Even Jesus let

his bakers dozen fend
for themselves once

they got to snipping and
sipping too comfortably.

According to the literature.
Jesus. That first bite. 

Its sharp. Its ache.
Its nectar. We’ll

build a fort and fill it
with maple trees gone gaudy

with cobalt wishing stones.
We’ll crawl inside and imagine

how maybe we used to laugh.
Fuck Orpheus and fuck them

for loving him harder for not
loving who we love when

we’re the ones down here
rotting in hell. Huh? Music?

Anyone ever really heard us sing?
Let’s move this: anyone ever asked?

Even so we sing all day. Even so we pass
our days whatever ways we can —

We know some folk don’t listen.
Just look. And trace. Look:

What is a thing of beauty
if not us?

Bear where a clothespin clips a nose
and breath is held until —

Bear it then keep walking
toward light. Right? Wait —

We’ll ask them to name something
blue and maybe they’ll say:

popsicle tongue
broken finger 

black eye. Easy enough
to say You. Don’t.

What does anyone out here know
of us? How

our tar-stained wings hide what
ergot saddles we ride. How

between our teeth we mash
the fur of maritime beasts. Still

some folk never thanks us
to manifest their pleas. Yet

what is a thing of beauty
if not us? Repeat:

dark – breath
dark – breath

dark - things we do as
we turn slowly blue:

lead laser dots through another
chalk outline; pick up today’s

halloween dress; cry
at commercials; obey; pay

defense department rates
for a sandwich; unremember

memorable jingles; jaw
sandwiches that taste just like

sandwiches; figure we can’t
expect much more than that; don’t.

Some slaves only get free enough
to crouch in Kentucky foxholes 

with Cincinnati just over
one last swift river.

Our own acrid smell finally
wakes us. Eras. Halfwoke

slowroll through the wet spot.
Panic. Floor. Hard. Years.

The worst kiddie-porn
we’ll never say we see.

Bottles. Cans. Pizza box
hotels. Crusty burrito

bits. Razor blades.
Mirror shards. Cat puke.

Half a joint. Shuffled match.
Broken brick. Bloody steps.

Lit joint. Burnt fingers. Better.
Wash the hair/don’t wash the hair.

Wash the hair/don’t wash the hair.
Wash the hair/don’t wash the hair.

Own no time. Late as fuck. Strip
the bed. Consider the stain. Don’t.

The murk we blow to cool.
The slop and bang we curse.

The hum of incandescence.
The lip burns we nurse.

The best skin of our lives.
The best skins of our lives.

What is thing of beauty
if not us?


Notions of temperature

bold as gonzo bumming our smokes two grackles top an aspen branch

again : again

to suffer

from the vulgar latin original meaning undergo meaning endure


cold-hearted fuck


this bastard luck


we need some tit-

ian water for our thirst

to suffer

compare old french sofrir meaning accept

meaning tolerate meaning breathless meaning

breathless our grackles drip ash : drip

feed them our yew trees someone says

swat them their flies someone won’t stop saysing 

Sometimes in a body

little metal insects tic tic tic tic tic tic tic tic tic

through bloodstreaks through musculoskeletal structure

sometimes a body sits by a window and watches an online party feed skipping the party

sometimes a body makes itself sick when pushed too hard too long

says stop



the wonderful singer told us we were the black gold of the sun on repeat

why wonderful singer?

how much is black gold even worth?

sometimes a body finds drugs where it least expects them

holes have been dug and drugs buried into the holes
how light speed equals need equals constancy

how we small each other

how we bind each other

sometimes a body counts twelve stars where skies never blacken never clear

they look lonely 

Sore broken in the place of dragons

How we pockmark our
sickening ball of melt:

How we crawl among animals
having forgotten their names:

How we swoon redfaced and coy
to our small silly star:

How we fall in love a little each
crisp stupid winter:

How we bow clavicles against
nights long and snowquiet:

How we can’t recall midsummer
even in its midst:

How we cease awe at the jerk
of our cretinous work:

How we breathe out our parasitic breath then
breathe it in:

How we watch again as light breaches
our wobbly horizon:

How we know the time to rise
has arrived: 

You don't have to pump the breaks you just gotta keep your eyes on the road

You know how the universe blinks and we
exist for a minute or two with our

classic hits stations and our marshmallows
our wars and flags and television and

shit. Coke bottles falling from the sky to
an old man’s village and the white people

just laugh and laugh and line up to pay and
laugh and get paid and laugh. That’s what they make.

He’ll clean it up. This is the world spinning
its circle in the vast dark and this is

us arguing the same shit on a new
machine. Faster. The world stays unstable

anyway. We work all day to excess
and for what? What will we make of it? Try

to recall the red crest of a robin’s
breast in springtime. Springtime! When we fight our

machines with our machines through our machines.
It’s the thought that hurts. When we stand one hand

airborne one finger on play. When we pump
the volume up against the god damned bird

song. Anyway. She even got a breast
, my friend said, that's how stupid

she is, my friend said. An anthropocene
of wannabe hepcats wanting to be.

But this is the world spinning in the vast
dark. Not any of the million spots we 

see in the night sky but the one we
can't. Rushing to the serenity shop

and fighting and hiding and crying and
eating in our cars with our volume pumped

against the birdsong. We are animals.
We need orgasm regularly. Now

even that lies just out of reach
hostage to the ding of our nearby cells — a poke

a text a like a love a comment: WELL
DONE! Aaaahhh! Aaaaahhh! Aaaahhh. Aaahhh. Aaahh. Aaah. Aah. Ah. a.

Yearn for the road. Ache for the unfettered
journey. Grow weary of it. Namaste

the mat says. Killed people kill people it
says. Shock. Disbelief. Wildly darting eyes.

Same old jive. Look steady through the pane.
Go on. Trust me. Really take in the light. 

Samiya Bashir

Samiya Bashir’s books of poetry, Field Theories (Spring 2017), Gospel, and Where the Apple Falls, and anthologies, including Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social & Political Black Literature & Art, exist. Sometimes she makes poems of dirt. Sometimes zeros and ones. Sometimes variously rendered text. Sometimes light. She lives in Portland, Ore, with a magic cat who shares her obsessions with trees and blackbirds and occasionally crashes her classes and poetry salons at Reed College.