Refugee

I cage a ride out of Africa,
a boat packed with war-torn emissaries,
a crew of blind, leprous kids.
Behind me,
only the afternoon of a broken sun.

Here, the sea alone, is sea,
time alone, can be without hours of dread,
air alone, without the indrawn breath,
and the sky, an arc into all directions.

Out here, what is state,
or territory for the unmoored?
What is symbol?
The ocean takes us all in her abundant folds,
like a flag or a body bag.
Here, at last, we are free.

But my fellow refugees
know no other way
than how to recreate ancient animosity,
and replay the whole hopeless farce
of our scorched memory
on this waterlogged plank.

Already the society of worms
breeds in our midst,
division of skin,
and words sharpened into toads.
Already the new world is old.

Those who die,
we slip into the quiet, waiting water
and watch them float like buoys
marking the failure of our diplomacy.
We could have rebuilt a country of love
on this raft lost beyond the dry earth,

a brief paradise
between the weapons we left behind
and those that await us.
Countries and martyrs revolve
in our starved minds.
We send our dead ambassadors
ahead to shore.

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Happy

There’s a man staring at me,

at all of you,

through eyes as heavy as boulders,

and he hates us all.

And his face is

shrunken to a pinprick

of essential loathing,

of joy never received,

of love never received.

He’s picked off

all the legs of his

insect brain one by one

until, at last,

there was pleasure, ripe, burning,

about the puss-hole of his days.

Look how his eyes,

black rejecters of the sky,

pull you in,

churn you about

in those factories

where hope is blast

into iron ingots

and spit back out,

hard pips of despair.

He loves his work,

and to him, you are

already cadavers,

mute, empty:

he’s hollowed you out

with the surreptitious

scoop of his smile.

Grinning, he’d like to

shake hands with you all,

to transmit, by finger, his venom,

so that your children

may grow withered and old,

so that the tree you bought

may die in its pot,

your house may

rot through the soil

and your job

may be out-sourced to Bangladesh.

And he’s christened your children

with a broken bottle,

while he jabs, drunkenly,

at the passing crowds

and kills dogs in his sleep,

and flays your

neighbor’s cat.

He’d even step on a snail

to brighten his day.

He has you all,

like rusty pennies,

which he stuffs in his pockets

and rolls into mothballs

between his soiled fingers.

He rejoices in the pennies

that feed on your minds,

and sometimes drive you mad.

He loves your wars,

your fanaticism,

your neighborly spats.

And he can’t wait for the day

of the ultimate orgasm

when you blow yourselves up, finally,

with biological, neurological,

pathological weapons of

mass reduction.

Grinning, he haunts

your shopping malls,

happier than you,

drunk on the

death of laughter,

that god who hates you all.