Hear You Knocking
by Nicholas Karavatos
how far out I lie I speak
from between my lines
a barrier to myself
displaying a division
concealing a presence spoken into
a coffee before dawn a donut shop
another body not mine where you left me an
embodied concentrate of encamped identities
a reading list of current titles
that like I have been shelved.
you stole my body
even if I gave it
even if I’d given it
you stole my body
a line of blood in sand
a man between asleep
the permeable body is the first and last line in space every
body a frontier every body a horizon a line around a globe.
you made me a silhouette
I speak from the outline
my penetrable mind is dark to itself
is a shadow that deflates my oily hair.
That rattle in the mandarin is the bounce of fused
sectionalism under my skin. Almond oil milks my
nutteries. Artisanal meads and scented barley waters are
customary refreshments. A tribe without a flame is not a
All about me cannot last long. Gone from the picture, a played-out
character I can’t get out of. Sabotage is subtle. Inaction is conflict.
My nails grow quickly and are strong. I claw at my clothing.
Improperly wiped lenses issue attitudes on sight. These times
are smudges and smears on Time as honeybees make medicine in
Yemen and baskets of honeycombs sit high in Ethiopian trees. Bees’
honey and culinary oils are American skullduggery. My unionist oath
of outer citizenship accounts for my exclusive tastes for inner secession.
I shield my eyewear from the summertime
flash-bang. My caramelized onion head is
split like a ripe melon on a beach. Visions
of the future of the galaxy as a fruit salad.
Scent of Celery
said so. Because
the men said so.
Pointedly, he’s a besider; he’s a pathetic prospect of
a hashtag campaign in his bursted languages. He has
Become no one. Done what. Too late another. Days too late. Never had an
office job or maybe did. Which one of him would be a liberated one of them?
He could’ve contended to become a fiber in the fabric
if he’d perspired through the static fantasy to its end.
Egregiously erogenous, the nonviolent hilarity of
an apocalypse could be fun if getting pantsed by
the Almighty were not violent harassment.
Venturing into holiday homecomings remind him he is the prey
and not the boast of a younger man’s ambitions. He could not
become The Cause so is half remembered on each return home.
As his accumulating subtractions space out, he wishes he could
laugh off the pieces. So, over breakfast
he chuckles a fruit frost as flakey as his
oblong orbits. He is lost to hers.
No tender for mutual cultivation
he mulches his onerous bends of space. Despite shapeliness
to their eccentricities, a figure of speech is not his last word.
NICHOLAS KARAVATOS is an assistant professor of poetics at the Arab American University of Palestine near Jenin in the West Bank. He was a U.S. Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholar to Ethiopia in 2018 at Bahir Dar University, and from 2006 through 2017, an assistant professor of creative writing at The American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. At the Modern College of Business and Science in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman from 2001 through 2006, he was a senior lecturer in humanities. His first year as an expat worker was on the faculty of the Fujairah Technical School in the UAE from 2000 to 2001. Nicholas Karavatos is a graduate of Humboldt State University in Arcata and New College of California in San Francisco.
The three poems published here are from his manuscript, Colony Collapse. Two poems from this manuscript and an interview with the author are at the Cathexis Northwest Press website. Of his full-length poetry book No Asylum (Amendment Nine, 2009), David Meltzer writes: “Nicholas Karavatos is a poet of great range and clarity. This book is an amazing collectanea of smart sharp political poetry in tandem with astute and tender love lyrics. All of it voiced with an impressive singularity.”