Haibun Self-Portrait

Devi S. Laskar


Haibun Self-Portrait ( at Morgan Falls State Park, Less Than a Mile ( 4000 Feet To Be Precise ) From the Once Pristine Chattahoochee River, Near the Fulton-Cobb Border )( Near the As Yet Un-Ravished Bull Sluice and Orkin Lakes )( the Almost Indecipherable Smell, At Once Rotten Egg, At Once Sweet Benzene Fumes Of the Devil Making a Stop in Georgia )( Though No Fiddles Could Be Heard, )( the Sound of Back Hoes In the Distance Competing With the Voices Of White Men Speaking Into a Bank Of Microphones, )( Politicians and Pipeline Officials ( the Names Of the Companies Doing Business, Colonial and Plantation )( Though It Was Colonial’s Spill In This Particular Instance )( Though It Was Thought To Be Gasoline It Wasn’t Clear What Was Passing Through )( From TX to NJ, Today: )( The Question Had a Multiple Choice Answer: Natural Gas, Oil, Diesel, Kerosene, Jet Fuel, Carbon Dioxide ) Alike With Equal Volume, Distancing Themselves From Each Other As the NTSB Excavated the Crime Scene to Determine Where to Lay Blame. )( It Would Later Be Reported and Proved: a 30,000 Gallon Spill, )( Parabola Of Apartment Dwellers and Longtime Residents Displaced, )( At This Moment, Everyone Looking Up At the Pewter Clouds Everyone Knowing That the Coming Rains Would Bring Floods, )( Knowing That Floods Would Cause the Dams to Spill Over and Flood the Tributaries )( Knowing That Floods Would Affect the Drinking Water Supply )( Later, Much Later, You Would Come to Know How the Pipeline, Already 20 Years Old and Un-Parented, Had Buckled and Cracked, How Refuse From A Nearby Trash Depository Had Crept In )( It Would Be Another Decade Before Saidiya Would Write Her Essay and Another 13 Years Before You Read In Her Words, The Question, ‘What Do Stories Afford Anyway?’ )( The Hatch of Caddis Flies and Mayflies In Your Periphery, and The Anglers With Weathered Skin )( Muttering In the Crowd )( Stepping Away, )( There Was Still Time In the Evening Rise, To Catch The Fish Before the Gasoline Steeped In the Ground Like Black Tea, Staining the Water Table Forever )) With Child ( You Cannot Stand Any Longer, You Must Rest Soon, You Cannot Lose Another Baby, You Cannot – ) – Unincorporated North Fulton County, GA 1998

God, not here.
God, I’m going to throw up.
God not here.

Devi S. Laskar

is a

Poetry Editor for Panorama.

Devi S. Laskar is the author of The Atlas of Reds and Blues, winner of 7th annual Crook’s Corner Book Prize (2020) for best debut novel set in the South, winner of the 2020 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (selected by APALA); selected by The Georgia Center for the Book as a 2019 book “All Georgians Should Read,” finalist for the 2020 Northern California Book Awards. The novel was named by The Washington Post as one of the 50 best books of 2019, Laskar’s second novel, CIRCA, was published by Mariner Books. Her third novel, MIDNIGHT, AT THE WAR, will be published by Mariner Books next year. In 2022, USA TODAY named Laskar among “50 AAPI authors” to read and Goop selected CIRCA as its June Goop Book Club pick. Laskar holds degrees from Columbia University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is an alumna of both TheOpEdProject and VONA, among others.


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