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The Last of Us in the Wild

— Jai Hamid Bashir

Teach each saw-tooth, the dark mule
               of new words. Spare each dumb eyeball, reorder the optics
                                             from simple pollens. Weed us from ugly grasslands—

to unbetter bureaus. Bend over backwards so often, to raise
               a new vertebrate, a new white piece to choreograph. To memorize: checkmate
                              roped in from the gullies of Arabic, shah mat​,

the king is dead​
. What they did to capture us, so lush
               and partially insane. To ask: Can we fix the old paper of their soul? Stained
                              with coffee, warmed through our parent’s fax machine—

breathing useless information, barely audible in a spider-whisper—
               a silence that makes you acutely aware
                              of your own river-system. From the benthic

               slathering off gills to shape into feet, to perform alchemy—
                              the acrid, the gorgeous taste of our own blood-psalm.
                                             To show us binary code. To ask: How did we ever get so soft

like twin lungs? How are you so strange?

                                             As if in gravity and buoyancy, the river-song
                                                                           of ocean, there are not
                                                            grotesque fish with bulbous heads, glowing
                                                                                                         to make their own light—​
and when I move, your gross scales mutely glint too.
                              All night the needle; all summer the sword—

                                             still, they can’t just figure it out,

                                                                           as if examining a different species of star.


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