Poetry: “The Bars, the Anthem” by Imran Boe Khan


Down here, spider blue’s sour candy singsong

plays out like confession. On my walk home,

civilians cleanse into pulpits, brining compassion

as they watch me hammer euphoria

into gallows. Some reach for cash,

others call the cops

and when the sirens come,

they rise like it’s the national anthem,

I’m on one knee till the tune cuts. On my front steps,

I’m dragged by war-fracked hands with metal clinks,

boozy torrents pulling the beat from my skin.

In the car, I practice listening outwards, fashion a phantom

out of police radio traffic,

ten-volume histories of ass pics,

and a bent cop crooning Leonard Cohen. His deputy laughs at my trip,

I find it oddly comforting.

Chasing my gaze with his tongue,

he shudders me gifts for which I’m unprepared,

self-pity moves like a searchlight,

when You Want It Darker hijacks my head

I count the stains on his uniform,

close my eyes to the hits.

Imran Boe Khan teaches creative writing in Dorset. His work has recently appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Rumpus, Menacing Hedge, Juked, and Rust + Moth. Khan is a previous winner of the Thomas Hardy Award.

Image: ostellodibergamo.it

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