Charlie Bondhus


He spent a total of 11 days and two hours in a box the size of a coffin and 29 hours in a box

that was even smaller, at 21 inches wide, 2 1/2 feet deep and 2 1/2 feet high.


He touched the lid and saw a minaret.


The archangel came and whispered the wahy.


From all edges came a crackling

call to prayer.


The angel bade him Recite;

his voice was a hammer driving nails.


The water ran red, as in the days

of Moses. It stained his beard.

His body believed

itself drowning.


The angel asked:         How does this begin?


A voice responded:


Start with pulled string. Start with legs

that jangle and kick when the string is pulled.

Start somewhere else, where there’s standing

water and sun, and mosquitos

breed like hallucinations. Start with awake, with 29

hours, water on the floor.

Start with food and rape, two broken feet,

a sprained ankle, an amputated leg. Start with power

drills and prolapse. Start with hypothermic shock.


He thought of date palms brushing

the ceiling in the lobby

at the Hotel Dubai.


Once there were fireworks;

their colors lit up the mosque’s

sandstone façade.

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