Three Poems by Hayan Charara

Image by NorbertNagel. Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.


My friend tried talking
me into giving him
a surprise hook to the jaw.
No one had ever
punched him and not knowing
that kind of pain created
in him another he thought
could be cured
through experience.
He was drunk
or was about to be.
We were in a car, the stars
barely visible through
the frozen windshield.
There was no moon
or the moon was shining
out of sight high
above us or behind
a cluster of trees, white pine
or elm or birch.
Who knows in the dark?
Maybe the moon
was right before our eyes,
but it didn’t make sense
for it to be there—
I paid no attention
back then to the moon
or stars or trees.
I wanted to tell
my friend that one time
for no reason my father
pressed my face
into the floor and whispered
a promise to crush
my skull and, yes,
I was afraid but not why
my friend was afraid—
my father just wouldn’t
tell me why or when,
only that he would—
that’s why I shook all over.
My friend wanted to know
so badly if I was going
to do him the favor.
And I loved him, so
I kept my father
to myself
and hit him hard as I could.


Without looking
the boy crossed the street
and a car clipped him,
hurling him like a gymnast,
the somersault a surprise,
shoes and socks
knocked clean off his feet.

The driver, either
distracted singing to the radio
or unnerved by the news,
stopped only long enough
to make out the red sneakers
but not to see
the boy’s mother
come screaming or hear
the father yell Jesus.

Dumb the boy was
thinking shoes would impress,
and without knowledge yet
of regret or shame—
why he swaggered
all the way into the street
where once and for all
he was laid flat,
his innocence taken,
or given, but not before
he went flying,
which was magnificent.


and vigorously
in hot oil,
sprinkle with salt,
add lemon,
martial law,
the judiciaries,
and proclaim
the voice
of the people.

These poems appear in The Lifted Brow #34. Get your copy here.

Hayan Charara is the author of three poetry books, most reccently Something Sinister (2016) and a children's book, The Three Lucys (2016). He Lives in Texas.