Best of the Net 2007  


   I forget to eat. Sometimes I even forget to breathe.
Ė DJ Keshav Jiwani, San Francisco 2003.Waiting for his asylum application to override his deportation order.

1. Karachi 1978 - 1985
When stones smash against the apartment walls I gather
   Mummyís scarves Ė brilliant red flecked with gold I set
the needle carefully down Asha Bhosleís voice high and delicate drowns
   the curses I dance like the film stars dance
like the myths Swirl scarves around my body blood
   red and glistening Tabla thrums and strings
sing like kites in the wind I dance night
   into dawn forget myself small boy with secrets
become Sharmila Tagore with her diamond
   smile My mother and sister laugh until
tears run down their cheeks Papa looks through me through
   the wall where the mob shouts and I dance harder for forgetting
forgetting who we are and where we have always
   been Only this heartstring Only these heartbeats
Inside Ahmedís room I press my hands against the cool stone floor Boys jumbled
   on the bed Porn stolen from Ahmedís American Uncle on the TV
The manís hands tangle in her golden hair His face the map of pleasure
   Close room heavy with the funk of boys I escape and
Ahmed corners me in the vestibule Takes out his glistening
   cock Ė Take it you want it Ė And I do
It fills my mouth sweetly Drunk
   on his smell and smooth brown thighs I ride until he explodes
bitter milk in my mouth He sneers Buttons his pants Tell anyone and you
Out on the street his rough voice follows me home My throat raw
and powerful I exhale the scent of boy
After Mummy caught me pinned under the taxi driverís dank
   hulk she hit me harder and longer than any man
who had sunk his hot flesh into me My sister found her with a tava
   in her hands my curled body just light and space and blood on the kitchen floor

2. San Francisco 1997 - 2003
Here there are boys who kiss me gently on the thin skin
   behind my ear Who cup me close in movie theaters and on Dolores
Parkís bright slopes When afternoon sun pulls
   away the fogís sibilance I add
muscle and flesh to each of my battered bones
The records spin like dervishes I mix
   coy flutes and the high voice of my childhood
drowning in electronic pulse the blond boys and girls
   with flowing skirts dance their limbs have never needed
to forget their feet firmly planted
   in concrete America they dance night into dawn and I the alchemist
blend sound into light I heartbeat I glisten
The towers are burning
   Penciled drawings of men who smashed their bodies into flames
flash on TV screens across America I do not look like them
In long lines we touch our pockets heavy with Pakistani
   passports and visa papers long expired creased one hundred times
The immigration manís teeth are so white I am blinded My body buzzes
   florescent My mouth forms words I can hardly understand
      - Gay Hindu Asylum Please -
The immigration manís hands are pink and perfect They stamp
   a piece of paper and slide it across the plastic desk
into my own bitter brown hands I deportee I refuge I stumble
   into misty streets Lose my way home
I forget to eat sometimes I even forget
   to breathe let the phone ring   let me stand here   bones
disguised by fog unremember
   myself   wait to lift into darkness disappear
into nightís thin membrane heartbeat to still

-Tamiko Beyer (Boxcar Poetry Review)