Tarik Dobbs

Untitled / Dad’s House

The djinn tells me there are no more days
where my body will lie underneath an above
ground swimming pool

Today, I am here as an outsider
a listener, It whispers that holes dug
out by dogs will not be filled, a deadfall
I’d better get my bones to work—

My father hasn’t held a job since '07
He owns 11 dogs, I hope he thought
I wouldn’t write it down
I’m allergic to dogs, stuck-short hairs
to my bed, eye sockets sunken in, taking
cover with a balaclava,
chafing the divot between brows & cheek
bone, whitish peeling

Middle of winter in that above-ground pool
covered in leaves, ice, and green
bullshit—Baba, the cover has sunken
beneath the floor
He turns to me, possessed,
starts shoveling sludge/
crushing my faggy toes
tosses me into the sleet-filled slough

Djinn calls me fool—do you trust
Men with no imperative?
Find an outlet for your daddy
issues. My cavity now iced
into tarp, until spring



Bismillah, Boom

I wonder if the towel would look good on my head
or if I did nine-eleven or if pssh-Neer-Boom will
deeply resonate with Allahu Akbar

          I remember the cartoon jihadist
          (not sure what this means) screams
          Allahu Akbar! before an explosion of some kind—
          a chubby teenager does a cannonball or a blank

This poem asks you to come closer to my blanker
body (I was fat in middle school), take
my arms and call them ticking,
take my tongue and tear it to my watch,
tell the tongue:
                                                  Set off the watch bomb underneath
                                                  your grandmother’s hijab

In reality my tongue is shrinking, rotting, and yellowing
(like sand) my middle school history teacher stands
with my tongue. He sighs into my ear hole: these ideas
are to be heard implicitly, forgiven of socialization
Teacher licks my tongue, covered in underseat gum,
he lies: this tastes of zaatar and regret, you, repent, this must
not be an explanation—I have a melting pot for this tongue

And I daydream I could french kiss Ed Snowden
under the light of a Drone,
two efficiently-placed heat signatures in an airfield
touching lips before being droned to smithereens

I wish the President could call my mother and tell her
Allahu Akbar, Boom—
I wish they would call me on a coalition,
to bear duty, for my common good defense
with rules of morality/with justifiably moral choices
                                                                                                    I wish for this to                                                                                                     point out the
                                                                                                    imperatives of the unjust/
                                                                                                    maintained peace, only for
                                                                                                    roaring applause


Tarik Dobbs is a queer, Lebanese-American poet from Dearborn, Michigan. In 2018, he won a Roy W. Cowden Memorial Fellowship, a Hopwood Undergraduate Poetry Award, and the Paul and Sonia Handleman Poetry Award for his collected poems. He also won the Projector Poetry Prize from Projector Magazine UK.