Sherwin Bitsui


They announced you captive.


They nouned  you on the television screen.


They strung cut ears around their necks and winked from the parade

when their horses stood on hind legs

            absorbing the morning light with blood on their hooves.


They picked scabs of dark from cigarette-lit streets

siphoned gasoline from walls lathered over babies beginning to teethe,

and slapped the fox from the lamb’s soggy neck.


In the soup line

            your army held their leggings above the wet floor,

and kept smoke from slithering out,

            when the announcer announced your language captive also,

            caged outside

                        where it mattered only when it barked,

                        where they named you thief

                                    as you jumped to bite the bone.



“Empire” first appeared in Red Ink Magazine, Issue 11.1.