‘Следите за россиян’
he told me,
pointing to a map
where all the borders had been daubed
in permanent marker,
land masses clashing five, ten, twenty miles wide.
Sure thing, but Putin didn’t kick me in the chest.
He grabbed me by the lapels
in one of many hydraulic spaces
spitting words like bullets in a knife fight. Do you know
that feeling? The torture
of a stolen voice?
With words that ushered in a new age
and while I caught grammatical errors
and mistakes that surely cast him
as anything but a pro,
I knew I was fracturing
like bark struck by an axe.
Sutoraiki. Sutoraiki. Sutoraiki.
Azure horses struck our ubåt
as he struck my chest.
‘öppna ögonen’ he pleaded,
as if causing pain is only half the fun
if you can’t ride the crest
of somebody’s anguished look.
I forced my fists into his stomach
and I realised that is what a real man feels like,
all gut, no guts.
‘Je suis en charge’
he swore with all the grace of a matador being
speared by his favourite bull.
He almost cried
when he told me
‘Io non sono il nemico’
with his hands deep in my pants,
my back leaking crimson
from the valve he forced it into
and my eye swearing vengeance
from the bruises he cast.
True, but the enemy never grabbed my cazzo.
If I could’ve written this poem in Hungarian, Greek or Arabic
his tongue has fucked the English language.
– Aaron Kent
Possible I misunderstood
the command as I fumbled
for my seat while others around me
stood, but it’s possible too
that this day was unlike
all of the ones I had lived before,
that each word as it hit
my ear was colliding with my body
for the first time each
that my senses were in the process
of forming still, slowly
expanding as they awoke,
were born, bumped against
the contours of the room
in which we had all of us gathered,
along with all else material
and immaterial that its square
dimensions held, possible
when I heard stand I had
no recourse, could only
– Cheryl Quimba