Sonja Hristina Bjelic

After the War

Woke up in Constantinople with two yellow toes. What is the purpose
of all this linear loftiness? Sometimes a person just wants to brush their
teeth over a modest pond reflection. The fields are yellow this morning.
Remember Tuesdays in the park? Your teeth full of blueberries. Light swinging
in the branches. O, the rippling heartache. What are you feigning for in this
observable world, the angel asked. And we danced together in the empire of
yellow. Meanwhile, soldiers roamed in circles, rotating their rods of holy.
Blueberries hunched under the light’s machete. When I observe you, the birds
disappear into the ochre rotation of decay. Who are the dentists in this place?
Your teeth are spectacular. Little puritan who snagged an angel on the tip
of her tongue. Two hands circling the moon. In the evenings, village men return
with buckets of squirmy sea. Sun setting on the back of grandmother’s corpse.
Rilke says, all angels are terrifying. I say, Bianca love, where did you hide
the teapot? Stealthy heart, up before dawn. In that yellow dress. The one I bought
you for Tuesdays.

A Confession

39 years without lifting a toe. I am a sick man, a contorted excuse
for a cricket. The kind that prefers the wetness of a familiar sheet
to Sundays in the park. Once, a monk visited me in bed and placed
a long, pearly finger under a passage from Neetchee. “Man needs
new gods,” he said. But what does a dying man need of God? I’ve
seen the angels. I am in on the secret. They are not so pretty after all.
They have no association with God. That is a stereotype. Bianca visits
room 209 occasionally. The one angel I tolerate. Is it her imported teeth?
Or the way she shoves blueberries into her sock? Maybe how she wriggles
on the pole like a worm pirouetting at the end of a hook. An angel,
but not off the self-righteous shelf. No. More of the kind to leave her robe
at a bar, or place it haphazardly in a blueberry bush before diving
into the water. Bianca, my dear, duplicitous thoroughbred. I was your
little, no-good cricket. Your organ on the side. But how you brushed
my teeth with such precision, horse-hair bristles fanning over each
groove, as I stared up at you, like a nursing baby. In my defense,
I am paralyzed by the structure in the woods. I used to be a holy man.
We marched towards Constantinople. The years disappear  
like pocket-change.

A Position of Securest Balance

Is this a mountain or a pile of gelatinous bodies? I bend a toe
to prove agency. Open the window to intercept a wound.
In the yellow slanted hour, snow falls on a remote thought: love,
it was the long trip between imagined lives. Bianca, my abyss,
my endless promise. Forever leaning over a cast iron of rolled oats,
blowing smoke halos from a cigarette’s last torch. Was it an affair or
an afternoon of negations? A shore to pitch our tent in the advent of war.
But didn’t you know, two monsters make a bundle of foliage and light.
You had the best of me, vile cricket that I was. All this humidity makes
my temples sweat. Snow accumulates on the corpses of blueberries,
mass graveyard of petrified blue, where the structure alone remains,
its complex system of operations, nodding to the last sentence of wind.

Sonja Hristina Bjelic is a Serbian-American poet and MFA graduate from NYU. They live in New York City and teach writing at York College and Legal Outreach. They are also a founding editor at 叵CLIP.

Malasaña | Hudson, NY| Cargo Collective | Portland, ME | 2021