Artwork © Eric N. Peterson


Canto XI

On a bus, but of
Whence I know not–
“I will mop the floor up with you,”
“Sissy, scared of her shadow,”
“You don’t know your head from your ass,”
“Look at how the little freak parts her hair,”
“Stop crying or I will give you something to cry about, ”
“Hey you, broomstick, what are you doing in pants shorter than your
Legs–wading in a flood? ”
“Out of that bedroom, you, get out of your cage now”

(With every bump on the road, in that back row, jolting jarring memory
Of patriarchal barrage so inexorable, nearly twenty years
Of such patronage, of such eternities making joining
A war seem a kind recruiter
Calling my name, giving a substance of I
To the nearly invisible cockroach
Under those heels of that man) – –
Attempt, through objective thought
To clog subjective memories and fear
Of an unknown destination
Now before me–an unknown destination
In the “West” for the war shorn cripple
That I am.

Russia, America,
All of them–
All these former empires,
The same: their
Lost hegemony
Aspired to again–
Aspirations winsome, and wistful,
As prevalent mood of a society
Undergirding the girth of it all–
And with ideas so easily permeated
In the identical cells of men that
All these tenuous facile fibers are
Made unscrupulously
Into alloys by
Top welders wielding torches,
Herosratic fascist leaders,
Of every conceivable dimension.

Democratic factions,
Where they still exist in the world,
Floundering in
Gridlocked incorrigibility, so
No, no surprise that
In the West
Military succor
For an incipient Ukrainian democracy-
Under a perennial siege-
Democratic values whatever
One deems and successfully
Argues them as being
(Certainly not rule
By one man albeit
All else uncertain) —
Thus democracy
Being anyone’s guess–
Would wane while
Zelensky’s male pawns,
Ukrainian compatriots,
Determined and unwavering,
Follow this hypnotic jingoism and fervor
To its ultimate conclusion–
The obdurate finale being,
As defenders of their homes
From such barbarous hordes,
Horrific demise, the
Slaughter of countless thousands
In thousands of discrete ways–men that are
Only rock solid in their own misconceptions,
Their own delusions of invincibility–
The strength of men
Being a platitude that is
Categorically wrong for
More is the like of men
like waterskins, these geysers in skin walls,
Burst-able as water balloons.

And the black and red ants
Fight over terrain
That in the brevity of lives,
The brevity even of societies and nations,
Attests such claims of ownership absurd
While man–
This man at any rate– is
In the back of a bus
Not knowing
Where he is going and essays
The clogging of fear with thought.


Steven David Justin Sills is an American literary writer in Bangkok whose first book of poetry, An American Papyrus, is in numerous libraries in the United States of America.

Eric N. Peterson is from Atlanta, Ga. He’s been drawing cartoons all his life. He leans towards the absurd, imaginative, and the surreal, as that’s where all the flavor is.