Rumpus Original Poetry: Two Poems by Jasmine Khaliq





Invierno II

you know the problem
of this poem—you
never looked at him.

was he in a hat?
there was a coat;
there was a nice coat.

possibly nice.
there were armrests,
to your left and your right.

you were halfway through the movie—

he was a stranger—
maybe he could’ve been more—
familiar in light—

that perfect triangle of his nose
you see now you’ve imagined
through the wheat of your mind.

do I need to say he sat beside you?
you remember. don’t you know
what happened?

the coat now a flood over the armrest,
letting out between your thighs.
well, that might have happened

later—what you really remember most is
how fixed your neck

snow and guns and dreams flashing
ahead. a friend to your right. a stranger
to your left. how fixed

your neck became.
like you would die if it moved.
like your head would roll off.

snow trains sleds guns
fall white trees horns
and horns, and horns, and horns,

a hand
then a hand

it started at your knee

— and snow, and snowing—
your neck a hand a bird
a palm wet sliding—

I wish you had been violent.
you moved his hand so delicately.
so delicately. his nice coat.

your hair like blinders.
your horse head.
once you remembered this

you couldn’t forget again.
you imagined him disappearing into bushes.
his silhouette in frosted glass.

he rode your bus
one morning some years
ago fifty miles from where

he left you he rode
in the strike of another
man’s cologne, 

his crinkling newspaper.
this last hard winter I saw him
on our porch. I left him there.

snow in the doorway
guns in the hallway
wheat of my mind

consider the fields
between forgiveness
and mercy, wide

between memory
and mercy, wide—
you dream your left leg swaying

on a meat hook—
I dream him knocking
I dream him cold



Invierno III

I’m tired of sheeping.
how boring, to be good.
a head gets heavy.
I can only feel this ribbon brush against my throat
so long, you know.
one day I’ll untie it, I know, let the whole thing roll off.

Jasmine Khaliq is a Pakistani Mexican poet from Northern California. She holds an MFA from University of Washington, Seattle. She currently is a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah, serves as Assistant Editor of Quarterly West, and reads for Split Lip Magazine. Her poetry is found or forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Black Warrior Review, Sundog Lit, Seneca Review, Poet Lore, Bennington Review, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere. More from this author →