Rumpus Original Poetry: Four Poems by Jai Dulani






clipped wings rot
under a cheap chandelier.

elbows tunnel
table plastic.

heave weeping
he hides

I watch. my head
between banister
bars. toes curled dirty
carpeted brown stairs.

I watch. her hand,
his shoulder. Ma
levy’s me
go. go.

go to bed. I
blur away
my loose head
ripping time



petal prayer this distance
queer closer please —

            khusra you hurled —
         you won’t be a man
            a woman.



what is a shore
without the sound of silt
through discard



my buzz cut used to be a black braid.
trace the back of my head. hear

queer fireworks. a symphony of unruly
ancestors. passing silhouetted men,

unanchored blood terror­—
clocked. there came a night I thanked god

for reincarnation. for surviving plaited erasure
& green- neon-visibility. the

clouds we flew through. arriving at beauty
fantastical. the unsealed temple. the constellations

flashing faggy-dykey-transhood; the moon unusual came
close. silky on the windowsill. sweet sparkling queer



I was thrown into the water as a kid.
bubbles mouthing discard like scissors.
lung hymn.

reach into the reservoir.
sheared tongues squirm.
linguistic eclipse; generations of you
jolt tactile. this alphabet
mass grave, your celestial ripple.

I ghost, you mirror. flood
my foreign gaze.

pierce my entourage
of grief


Photograph of Jai Dulani by Margarita Corporan.

Jai Dulani is a poet, writer, and multimedia artist whose work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2020, Alaska Quarterly Review, Waxwing, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from Kundiman, VONA/Voices, and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Dulani was the 2019-2020 Assistant Managing Editor of the Bellingham Review. He is co-editor of the anthology, The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence in Activist Communities. More from this author →