Poems

DUJIE TAHAT a general sense of belonging

after Solmaz Sharif

We the people

[instructs a civics
teacher at the head of class]

do ordain and establish

[an antiquated form of call and response—
commit to memory]

this Constitution for the United States of America

[I could not]

form a more perfect

[day in my mind
to start American school
if I wanted to. Even the blue sky was generous]

to ourselves and our Posterity

[at some point, I taught myself
all the 51 capital cities]

of the United States, in Order to

[not raise a sneak of a
suspicion just like my parents taught me:]

provide for the common defense, promote

[a general sense of belonging—
even in times of war. As in, for us, always,
fake it. Worry about the rest
later. Check that]

Welfare, and secure

[your family bag]

the general

[commands attention
before calling for the execution
of his enemy for which]

the Blessings of Liberty

[arrived in the form of Operations Enduring Freedom,
Iraqi Freedom, A Misidentified Wedding, ██████
████████, A Misidentified School, ███ ███████
A Misidentified Bazaar, ███████ ██████ Another Mis-

identified School.

What is a civilian
kill rate but a blow
of mercy to preserve the]

Union, establish Justice, insure

[Total Annihilation. The President
says we’ll carpet bomb Damascus
if we must]

 

Dujie Tahat is a Filipino-Jordanian immigrant living in Washington state. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Sugar House Review, The Journal, The Southeast Review, Narrative, Bennington Review, and elsewhere. Dujie has earned fellowships from the Hugo House and Jack Straw Writing Program. He serves as a poetry editor for Moss and Homology Lit and cohosts The Poet Salon podcast. He got his start as a Seattle Poetry Slam Finalist, a collegiate grand slam champion, and Seattle Youth Speaks Grand Slam Champion, representing Seattle at HBO’s Brave New Voices.