How quickly can a little nation die?
As quickly as she can let down her hair.
It isn’t right; but then, life isn’t fair,
And someone else’s nonsense isn’t mine.
I’ll keep to me, and you to thee and thine.
And if you fancy, in those sandy lands,
That Ghani should have bloodied his own hands,
Perhaps you’re right—but, you must know, no one
Has a monopoly, when all is done,
On what is really right or really wrong.
Life’s but a dream—haven’t you heard the song?
Sometimes I lay in bed and think of things—
Sweet queens, Kalashnikoving kings
—I like to count the bullets ’round their heads.
Eventually, all of us are dead.
I fell asleep, then slowly started up.
The sun was glaring at me through the blinds,
And, wincing, I could not make up my mind
To raise myself up from the sandy bed.
My turban lay there, fallen from my head,
Next to the girl I’ve taken from next door—
I have a gun and am no longer poor.
My Lord promises me I will be rich,
And, when I am, I swear I’ll kill the bitch
Or make her just another of my herd.
The imam says she should not say a word,
And if she does, that I can go ahead
And put a bullet right into her head
And we will drag her body through the street.
For now, I think I’ll go to get some meat
From the kabab boy who works down the road.
We killed his father, who had thought to goad.
Also, I could use something new to read.
What I have now is drier than a reed,
And all the women’s faces are scratched out.
I know I shouldn’t wish, so I don’t pout,
But—Allah, pardon me—I do not mind
Seeing a woman’s face from time to time,
Especially when naked. God forgive
This sin of mine, for I worthily live.
Where is Omaha, anyway—you know?
The only book I have in here, I trow,
Was printed there some thirty years ago.
I saw her move her toe.
Last night, I pressed her down into the bed
And bid her hush herself, for we were wed,
And she was not her father’s girl, but mine.
She is but little more than filthy swine,
Fortunate if she should bear me a son.
That said, I held her there ’til I was done,
Then ordered her to wipe her unclean mess
Up from the bed so that I might take rest.
She wept, ungrateful, sordid pestilence.
Tonight, she will show me her penitence.
There is no drunkenness, but I have heard
That I can buy alcohol from the Kurd.
A song of songs; tale of prince[ss]ly deeds!
Sometimes I wake, having had dreams of things—
Circumcised queens, Kalashnikoving kings
—I’ve made a swimming pool out of the bed,
But mine is wet with sweat, and theirs were red.
It’s like that movie that I saw last week,
A Quiet Place—the one that made me *eek*!
The best remedy is to go outside
And look with starry eyes up at the sky!
Pay no attention to my fingernails.
They’re bloody, and my mother simply wails
For me to stop, even if it requires
(The very thought of this makes me perspire)
Ungodly amounts of sour lemon juice.
Ah, well, across the street, over the sluice!
The fields are waiting; I must not delay
From pinning something to the feed today.
I think my starry look will do the trick—
My scab will not stop bleeding if I pick
It once again, and then I’ll stain my shirt.
I barely washed it to get out the dirt
I got on it when I was having sex
With that random that I met over text.
It sounds bad—but do not patronize me!
You haven’t yet, but you just wait and see!
It’s something you can judge when you’re in love,
But when you’re lonely, and push leads to shove,
You’ll do the same, or else you’ll wind up dead
Alone, so might as well go get some head.
But please don’t tell another soul I talk
Like that! Why don’t we take a walk
And just forget that I have ever said
Those words. What isn’t written’s never read,
And you can’t prove that what just left my mouth
Was what I have been telling you about.
Besides, look at the angle of the sun—
Hold it right there. I’ll tell you when I’m done.
It’s tricky, getting into the right pose
With all this hair, and all these putrid rows
Of bones I always have to work around.
Who knew so many bones were on the ground?
They’re charming, in their way. What do you think
About the way their hue offsets the pink
That’s in the sky? I guess I only care
Because that one skull laying over there
Looks just a little too much like my friend,
The same one that I hooked up with in Bend.
We’re not really a thing; it was more like
A summer fling. We went out there to hike.
There’s still some meat on this femur right here—
I haven’t eaten anything, my dear,
Since yesterday, before I binged my lunch!
You know I’d be grateful to you a bunch
If you would just not mention that I ate
The little piece of meat that’s left—a plate?—
Oh, dear, it’s fine! I’ll chew what’s on the bone
Right off. You know that had I known
That I’d be pigging out like I am now
Just yesterday, I really would have frowned!
I am so bad! But it’s like a kabab,
The way the meat hangs on the bone in globs!
I’ll definitely puke later tonight.
I’ll send a Snap if you don’t think I’m right—
This greasy hunk of meat? There is no chance
I’d let this sit and then not fit my pants.
I was unsure, throwing a careful glance
Across the coffee table set between
The therapist that I had gone and seen
And me. I should have thought that he would say
Something to pick me up, to make my day—
I should have thought. But he could only stare
At me when I was forced to stop for air,
His puzzled brow, his mouth slightly ajar
Said something like, “I don’t follow thus far,”
And can you blame him? I, for one, can’t tell
If it is real or not, or what the hell
The whole academy expects that I
Will carry on their prattle for when thigh
Bones aren’t thigh bones anymore and she
Just ate them up—if them, then why not me?
I saw with my own eyes the way she looked
At all that human flesh, the way she hooked
Her arm through mine when all the shots were done
As if she knew that I wanted to run.
I—I can’t count out another line like this because I’m starting to break down.
I’m trying my best to get out, but it’s like
It’s like—oh, God—
There is no God—but I can’t think like that, I need something to hold on to,
I need something to hold on to, bec—
PLEASE TELL ME THERE IS SOMEONE WATCHING US
BECAUSE I AM ABOVE A MOVING BUS
THAT ALMOST IS EQUAL WITH MY OWN STANCE
ON TOP OF THIS BRIDGE WHERE I AM BY CHANCE
CONSIDERING THE PEACE THAT DEATH WOULD BRING
A FINAL PROOF THAT I AM NOT A THING
THAT SHE CAN USE FOR PHOTOS AS A PROP
I AM A PERSON AND I AM ON TOP
OF SOMEWHERE OUT OF REACH SO VERY HIGH
THE ULTIMATE ASSERTION IS
About the Author
Kenneth Butterfield (call him Ken) is a Rhetoric MA student at Carnegie Mellon University. He writes for catharsis, usually poetry and fiction with a philosophical bent—it helps him sort through his feelings and thoughts about things he encounters. He does not share all of the perspectives explored in his writing.