Poems: Hawa Allan

Illo for Hawa Allan's poems. Credit to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/brighton/22121344661


The invasion of
movie extras
who think they’re
the stars.

They haunt
stage sets,
shells for shells
blown down by
gales of rent, and

propped up again
with vintage décor—
echoes of a before
that never was.

To move so far
only to inhabit
the good old
days their parents
still vote for.

Foregrounded filler,
their chatter chokes
the words you want
to hear.

Yet as they steal
the spotlight,
they shift
their weight from
hip to hip,

for the action.


To sit still in the fire,
we are told, takes the
mettle of a monk
who knows he’s
the still small

ice-blue eye
of a flame,
the unwavering source
of that which
flickers and licks.

As if the alarm doesn’t
sound for us all, even
if only at a pitch
those with ears
pricked can hear.

Stay where you are
they say, as if we aren’t
already immobilized,
cemented in this sight
for sore eyes.

we are not monks
but mere mortals,
cleaved to this body

There is no refuge
from our emergency

And neither we
nor our infernos
are self-made.
Hawa Allan writes cultural criticism, fiction and poetry. She is an essay editor at The Offing and her work has appeared, among other places, in The Baffler, the Chicago Tribune, and Lapham’s Quarterly.

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