“The opposite of transubstantiation is a yeast infection
just as the opposite of wine is the grape seed
born of a grape fuck,” the Antichrist had offered
to her SAT prep instructor, which is how
she’d landed in detention now wondering
whether a Bordeaux or a zin converted more
readily into platelet and plasma. It must vary
by vintner and vessel, she thought, carving
a tiny, upside-down cross into her desk
with a raw corner of her switchblade comb.
She’d been itching for a Coors and a long draw
off the joint in her sock, and she prayed to Christ
the dean hadn’t ratted her out to the homefolk,
as if Christ was more than just an idea, but she knew
Christ was just an idea, and she still thought it was weird
she’d never read a single elegy for the guy
except in the way the whole religion is an elegy
for the guy, which she mostly admired
for its choral arrangements and galloping pastors,
for how it kept mistaking epileptics for saints
or for demons, for its unrepentant gore and the soft
lighting of the midnight mass at Christmas
and the blood in its cups and the flesh on its tongues,
none of which she would change a bit,
she thought. She’d do it all exactly the same.
Jaswinder Bolina’s fourth full-length collection English as a Second Language and Other Poems is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in September 2023. Hisdebut collection of essays Of Color (2020) is available now from McSweeney’s. His previous books include the poetry collections The 44th of July (Omnidawn 2019), which was long-listed for the 2019 PEN America Open Book Award; Phantom Camera, winner of the 2012 Green Rose Prize in Poetry from New Issues Press; Carrier Wave, winner of the 2006 Colorado Prize for Poetry from the Center for Literary Publishing at Colorado State University; and the digital chapbook The Tallest Building in America (Floating Wolf Quarterly 2014). An international edition of Phantom Camera is available from Hachette India. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and been included in The Best American Poetry series.
His essays can be found at The Washington Post, Paris Review, Shenandoah, Poetry Foundation dot org,and other venues. They have also appeared in anthologies including the 14th edition of The Norton Reader (W.W. Norton & Company 2016), Language: A Reader for Writers (Oxford University Press 2013), and Poets on Teaching (University of Iowa Press 2011).
He teaches on the faculty of the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing at the University of Miami.