Skip to content
Contact USI

salat during deportation proceedings

by Dujie Tahat


The judge gets my name right this time—
the whole thing.


Crossing the bar,
I follow my lawyer’s
lead. I yes at everyone.
I’m sympathetic
to your argument,
the judge says. Yes.
But there’s nothing
I can do. Yes.


My lawyer asks me about
my case on the elevator
ride down. The joke’s on me,
and he always steps on the punch line.


Desperation is the start of grief
is what I learned in a room like this,
watching it form in my father’s fall
from his face to the floor; my mother
and sister unfazed at the sight of shame.

            [prostration again]

It’s always dramatic metaphor with family.


Pews and pews, lawyers and snakes—
even the unbelievers look for grace,

unpracticed, as I am, asking God
for any old thing to have blessed

the judge with a good moaning,
a lover just this morning at his knees.

            [salam alaikum]

The order to appear in which body—
a boy, a husband, a father. Leave them
all at home. That’s the order of removal.

 Dujie Tahat is a Filipino-Jordanian immigrant living in Washington state. He is the author of Here I Am O My God, selected by Fady Joudah for a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship, and Salat, selected by Cornelius Eady as winner of the Tupelo Press Sunken Garden Chapbook Award. Their poems have been published or are forthcoming in POETRY, Sugar House Review, The Journal, Poetry NW, The Southeast Review, ZYZZVA, Asian American Literary Review, and elsewhere. Dujie has earned fellowships from Hugo House, Jack Straw Writing Program, and the Poetry Foundation, as well as a work-study scholarship from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. They serve as a poetry editor for Moss and Homology Lit and cohost The Poet Salon podcast. He got his start as a Seattle Poetry Slam Finalist, a collegiate grand slam champion, and Seattle Youth Speaks Grand Slam Champion, representing Seattle at HBO’s Brave New Voices.