Chris George: Bardo of the Tongue

HAPPY SUNDAY! the poetry party last night was a smashing success, and we'll be continuing to share work by some of the best voices in dallas through the end of the month and beyond! we're grateful for everyone who could join us last night, old friends and new.

today we are delighted to feature this poem titled The Bardo of the Tongue by Chris George, from a collection he is currently working on called Bardo Poems. this dallas-based poet and teacher is also an Arabic translator, and it's worth mentioning that Asymptote just released a beautiful new issue featuring سليمان جوني (Salaiman Juhni) translated by Chris and Ali Mizher that's absolutely worth checking out! Chris' writing prompt for you is this: Personify your neighborhood, then make it inhabit a poem.


The Bardo of the Tongue

A stone on my tongue is neither a choking nor a weight but a waiting. Prophets crack rocks for water in far North Dallas and roll around eternal grocery lists. My tongue swells at the smell of onions. Every moment blinks between now and then and leaves me somewhere in-between.

Pipes break and flood our closet.
The front door handle is flaccid.
Water is filling the flowerbeds.

The house internalizes our fears; its obsessions open and close the day. I can no longer trust my eyes to tell me the world’s intentions with my daughter. Death by fire rolls its images into my morning commute. Our spine is the edge of loosely fitting days in wrong sequence.

The prophets carry buckets through the streets and are mistaken for beggars. The mouth cannot hold the limits of their gaze. The tongue swells. The moment blinks.


Chris George is a poet and translator who lives and teaches in Dallas, Texas. His work has been published in numerous journals, including The Arts United, Entropy, and Sarah Lawrence's LUX. He has forthcoming translations in Asymptote, Drunken Boat, and in Words Without Borders' new podcast Play for Voices.

Chris George at spiderweb salon's annual winter formal | photo by courtney marie | 2014

Chris George at spiderweb salon's annual winter formal | photo by courtney marie | 2014