Samir Atassi

Ghetto Biennale Ghazal

A Two-Headed Tin-Man stands, burnished leaning iconic in rubble
Dented crown jagged shade to cardboard ribs in the alley, feed, black.

“When 1st-world art rubs against 3rd-world art, it bleeds black,”
Colored rags trumpet the Grand Rue canopy, hungerlings bleed black.

These the world's castoff stitches, its fibers. “Tele-Ghetto,” ghost-filming skulls
In eye-glasses under a top-hat welded & soldered to starving needs black.

“Seed bombs” fight to detonate dirt through Michelins prostrate in the
Ditch, Creoles busking, stomping a rara on 5-gallon buckets in weeds, black.

Papa Legba, Trickster of Port-au-Prince, 8 metres of well-hung shadow heart
Of a car-chassis, legs of bed-frames, tongue a length of knife & soul-greed, black.

All the Atis-Rezistans gather at the Trash-Church in search of body parts for totems, rotted
Pelvic lumber, hypodermic fingers, TV sets of breasts, golems on spree, black.

A sculptor in a tank-top works the patina of her sheet-metal Cyclops, her torch a red
Eye boiling calcium & zinc down to muscle & death-vigil, a country's creed, black.

They rent graves up on the hill for six months at a time, the place their art incubates before
Skulls are plucked and outfitted for the Rue, grinning in trinities of bone-trees black.

“We live because we die, we survive because we are of Apocalypse, Samir,” one says
To me, beads singing on bones like chains never loosened or freed, black.


Samir Atassi is a poet from Northeast Ohio. He obtained his MFA from Ashland University in 2014 and his work has appeared in various online journals including Glint, River Teeth, and Painted Bride Quarterly. This ghazal, titled Ghetto Biennale Ghazal, is from his unpublished manuscript Jukebox Mosque, and is about the people of Haiti and a very mysterious artistic tradition of theirs. Please enjoy.