Ian Khadan was born in Georgetown, Guyana on August 21st, 1986 and moved to the United States when he was 9 years old. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in English. In 2008 he represented Loserslam New Jersey and in 2010 he coached the New York City Urbana at the National Poetry Slam. Ian's work has been featured in a few literary magazines, among them, SUSS, The Foundling Review, and The Meadowland Review. He spends his time working for Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), hosting poetry workshops for children, primarily, ages 9 through 18, and touring his own writing throughout the northeast. Find out more about him at www.iankhadan.com.
Three Poems (November 20, 2010. Issue 22.)
after Tyler Clementi
for Jeanann Verlee
The best of us are the ones unaware; heartbroken yet, still,
offer all of themselves up to the altar. The best of us are the
ones who will not be told; who will wander robed in absolute
light--still, blind in dark. The best of us are fury cloaked in
grace, rage bound by careful touch. The best of us suffer a
fantastic burden of resilience.
today you decide to wake up. you maul your way out of bed,
and brush your hair. this is still not enough, you begin to rip
it from your scalp. yes, you bleed. better the hands than the
shaving razor. you try to wash your face but it's still just that:
your face. you take a paper clip and carve away the lines, no,
they're no longer lines. now they're trenches and war paint.
you're at war you know, you know you try to brush your
teeth but the yellow looks like sulfur, so you light a match in
your mouth; see if the cigarettes still burn from the surface of
enamel. the bathtub looks inviting. you fill it to the brim.
empty a bottle of peroxide and dive in face first, eyes open; it
burns—you like the burn—the water blisters your skin—you
don't like your skin; skin's the problem you know, you know
you've been under for three whole minutes. all you see is
blood. it’s like being inside your body, this drowning, inside
your body. you are drowning. when you come up, you find
the whitest towel rub it hard against the skin; it's the skin. it
stains absolution. the skin is a stain. today your pants don't
roll on to your legs. they catch, stick, snag at your heels. you
tie a rope around your thighs, tug at the knot until they turn
blue. these fucking thighs. you laugh when they go numb,
slide in to whatever still fits in your closet. not your favorite
shirt. whatever fits. when you settle. you find your violin, it’s
your only source of comfort, this and closing your eyes. you
practice both. feel the rosin grain against the horsehair, the
tension screaming a million marionettes. the strings moaning
in your hands. now. the drums of rain wakes you from this
dream. it wakes you. yes, dream not nightmare. delusion.
dream. you still want all these things for yourself. now. you
are woken, you don’t decide, you wake. you find your violin
in pieces. you recall the night before, when the jackals
swarmed. howled at your scrow of a carcass. found you in
pieces. this is when. now. today. today you decide. not
tomorrow. now. today. you will jump from a bridge.
Once, I caught a fish.
The hook was unsettlingly stapled
through the side of its mouth
and out through the slit of a gill.
It swayed like an anvil
at the end of the twine
laced around a stiff branch.
Its eyes glazed in the sun
and its body convulsed
As I drew forward to study the small-heavy thing,
I began to wake from the nightmare,
The scales encasing me like tomb,
the cold puddle collecting me like fisherman,
and the damp air searing through my sharp open mouth.
Red Sky at Night
In accordance with gravity,
a boat must sink---
it should swallow
the ocean as it does so.
The captain must be in attendance,
it is no longer a boat without a captain.
The ocean, too, must be present,
it is no longer a boat without the ocean.
Today I recall the red blouse,
that opened up like a horizon.
How I grappled with the buttons
and spilled my face in to the open cracks,
mopped my eyeballs up with my tongue
and suffocated without discomfort.
Today, it could be an anniversary:
the kiss, the dinner, the breakup.
Though, I cannot recall the idle details
in the dark of the ocean floor.