The 2River View 15.4 (Summer 2011)

David Allen Sullivan

Ahmed Hamid Jelu, Exchange Rates

I carry hot tea
        in glasses that clank against
                                the wire mesh frame. Rain

beats me as I run.
        At the barber shop I'm cursed
                                for letting them fill

with what Allah wills
        and the man refuses to pay,
                                leans in with a slap

that whips my head back.
         I've been praying for this rain,
                                 now I don't want it.

Allah forgive me.
        I'm unable to accept
                                what I am given.

I'm told my father
         was taken because of me.
                                 Am I worth so much

that my punishment
        afflicts everyone? Each time
                                my cheek is struck numb

I earn back what's lost,
        but when I think that I push
                                Baba Jee away.

I do not matter.
        I must not care. There's a break
                                in the wire handle

that cuts into me
        when I hold it right. The scar
                                hardens, breaks open.

Tareq watches Kids Swim in the Tigris

We used to launch off
        the rocks to smack the water,
                                angling ourselves

on impact so legs
        wouldn't buckle slamming sand,
                                but I remember

the rough silted bed
        I'd lie in before rising,
                                slow-motion burbles

pushing past my lips,
        my alien hands streaming sun,
                                and above, the legs

of compatriots
        scissoring through the green world.
                                My senses were all on,

attuned to pleasures
        beyond my understanding.
                                That I had to rise

was what disturbed me,
        how I wanted to stay there . . .
                                I'd push it so far

pinpoints would attack
        my eyes and blackness swim up
                                with me towards my life.

David Allen Sullivan teaches literature and film at Cabrillo College, in Santa Cruz, California. His first book, Strong-Armed Angels, was published by Hummingbird Press, and two of its poems were read on The Writer's Almanac. Devil's Messengers—multiple voices dealing with the Iraq war—is forthcoming from Main Street Rag. contact