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Zachary E Tenney Apr 2019
you know how brittle and thin
the bones of a fried chicken look
after you have bit them bare
and licked them clean
imagine bones like that
bulging beneath the skin
of a seven-year-old girl
who is only still alive because she
unlike forty of her brothers and sisters
was not on the school bus
destroyed the other day
by an expensive star-spangled bomb

her lips look like
they haven’t laughed in years
her skin lame as waxpaper
what might have glowed once
in the bright of Yemen’s sun
is left instead to sag in agony
from those sinless unfed bones

while she goes to sleep
for the final time
a tycoon somewhere
eats well and rests easy
on the dollars that bought
the bombs
not really knowing
the price that has been paid
Amal Hussein was a young child whose photograph was featured in a major New York Times story on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. There were many horrific photos, but this one caught my eye and inspired this poem. I encourage all readers to seek out organizations to which you may donate in support of Yemen, and more generally to take a stand against the military-industrial complex that facilitates massive arms deals between Western nations and Saudi Arabia, the products of which the latter uses to wage this genocidal war (a war, it must be said, that the United States supports without ever having acquired congressional approval).
Zachary E Tenney Apr 2019
“Don’t consider my words the sick
ecstasy of a sick mind, but you are
for me perfection!”
- Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot

I remember
I can taste blood
on the roof of my mouth

I remember her face the first time
I asked her to coffee
when it rippled in a minor
hemorrhage of surprise
like the request was unexpected
but maybe
I hoped
hoped for

holding fiery cider in her hand
she was word and color transfused
when she spoke
she was celluloid and strawberry blond
and her smile looked like water
racing over rubies and the years
that I had waited
to meet someone like her

her hair was tied back
in a hurricane of dim gold
her voice spun out veins of thought
fluid and manic as magma
but brilliant like serrated ice
I remember

the cardial whiplash
when she said she would like to do this again
the sanguine dreams that came
after giddy toss and turning
turned to sleep
the saccharine thought
that I might be with her

suddenly washing away
leaving only the clean sting
from the bluelit photograph
of her having coffee somewhere else

my sheets grew thicker
as I stared
I did not blink
I just drank in cold acceptance
of the stranger staring back beside her

as the palpitating hope stopped
and the sunk aorta darkened
there were no feelings
save the ones that
I remember

I can still taste blood
on the roof of my mouth
The word "haemal" means "of or relating to blood."

— The End —