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  4. Elegy by Jaswinder Bolina

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In sun the sunburned skin sloughs off the sunburned shoulder.
Most folks believe this is the body’s slow mend.
Most folks believe in the good yolk of the soul.
I believe in autopsy lingo of natural causes should be replaced
with of long-term exposure to the dim, unwavering radiation of the morning star.
The evening they burn your body,
I step into the garden and arrange a crooked line of birdbaths to skip stones across
until a bell tower tolls its eight arguments against daylight
and the skyline illuminates, ragged and unmended
like a poem turned on its side.
The evening they burn your body,
I believe I’ll step into the living room and be greeted by you
or by someone who could play you in a movie.
The curtains are an aurora of earthly proportion.
You don’t exist.
A flash igniting the paned glass is the silent lightning outrunning its noise.
You’re on fire.

Jaswinder  Bolina, "Elegy" from Phantom Camera.  Copyright © 2013 by Jaswinder  Bolina.  Reprinted by permission of New Issues Press.
Source: Phantom Camera (New Issues Press, 2013)
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  • Born in Chicago, poet Jaswinder Bolina earned a BA in philosophy from Loyola University in Chicago, an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan, and a PhD in English with a creative writing concentration from Ohio University. He is the author of the chapbook The Tallest Building in America (2014), and the poetry collections Carrier Wave (2007), winner of the 2006 Colorado Prize for Poetry, and Phantom Camera (2013), which won the Green Rose Prize in Poetry from New Issues Press and was published in an international edition by Hachette India.

    Compared to poets as diverse as John Ashbery, James Tate, and Dean Young, Bolina investigates language, experience, and innovative writing. Poet Ravi Shankar, writing on The Best American Poetry blog, noted that Bolina “breaks new perceptual and sonic ground,” adding “he encapsulates the American South Asian immigrant experience, at least as I’ve experienced it.”

    Bolina was the 2010–2011 Elma...

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