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Faisal Mohyuddin reads "His Ashes Upstream From Where He Was Born" by Hari Alluri.

Brought to you by Complexly, The Poetry Foundation, and poet Paige Lewis. Learn more: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/

Faisal Mohyuddin:
https://www.faisalmohyuddin.com/
https://twitter.com/fmohyu

Poem: His Ashes Upstream From Where He Was Born by Hari Alluri
Book: The Flayed City
Publisher: Kaya Press

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This is a poem called "His Ashes Upstream From Where He Was Born" from The Flayed City by Hari Alluri. I love this book because of the way it uses language, the way it talks about the people that are often invisible in cities and in urban landscapes, and this is a poem basically echoing that sentiment of loss and longing that an immigrant father feels when his son is trying to understand his father.

His Ashes Upstream From Where He Was Born

my father was a better man than me,
as my son would have been after.  It is only I
who forgets and must be forgiven, I,
the poorly knotted twine.  It begins

with a throat's boyish taboo to ancestry.  A suspension
of bridges, a pounded yam, a throne, and famine's
cheek-bone smile.  Also a broken record, like a melody halved:
my father, my son, the notes I am given, repeating
a broken count, a melody

I give myself.  Scratches that make me 
stumble my only groove, dusted.  Here is where I begin
to form a coercion, a wish to blend myself
against our night.  This immigration amplifies

the skipping, skipping.  City, I wear 
your work like land wears a city
and a city is an impossible thing not to lose.
I sweep your pavement.  Night trains bangle the distance
with shapes our your window, bodies without shadow

bristle the dust of sounds that keep you.  When I speak,
my sweeping is poor.  To write, 
to sediment.  You drink from pools of stone--we tie
knots between shards of land

and alphabets.  Carve, like stray streams
everything that isn't ocean.  Now watch
your own south for a cheek-bone, and howl:
a man tries to churn your pavement for sleep
because he isn't still.