by Hans Pieter Arao
This is where you’ll breathe your last.
On the pot-holed pavement knelt
Grimed knobby hands clasped in prayer
to gods wielding metal toys shooting metal missiles
faster than your scrambled thoughts
Or the mumbled supplication of bystanders
Who are there but wish they weren’t.
A bang, three, louder than the clang
of church bells across the square
Louder than the hiss of blood that spurts
and squirts from the holes
on your pock-marked face and twitching twig of a body.
But not louder than the silence that follows.
Not louder than the helpless wordless
seething rage of silent watchers
drawing ever closer to the yellow ribbons
that ward them off. Nor the rending wail of mothers
or fathers or wives or husbands or children
–spittled cries of addled brains
forsaking the power of speech for the greater power
of incoherent gestures and gurgles.
Your death is drowned by the squabbles
Over who killed you.
Fake golden badges or mounted ski masks
Or plain robbers does it matter?
They all point to murder
You’ll be just a number
After you draw your confused last breath–
Another stick, another tick to the tally
of those counting Big Brother’s
Casualties in the war the Father has promised.
Lines will be redrawn over whether yours
was a murder well-deserved or another
Symbol of the State’s failure to take care of its poor.
Besides that you’ll be forgotten
Maybe even by your family
Resigned to the fate of a former user
Suspected peddler, rehabilitated, does it matter?
You looked the part. Emaciated, jerky, glazed, sunken eyes
the telltale signs of addiction. Also the telltale signs of hunger.
Which was the last thing you heard, wasn’t it?
That gnawing in your stomach that caused a din
between your ears, subduing all sound and comprehension
Before the cameras shot you lying face down on the floor.