Terrible Bodies

— Ina Cariño


we began in soil      mountain-
roughed       soursop-smeared.

candles in the cabinets—
matches plastic-wrapped
for when typhoons bring dank.

we feed ourselves luxury—
lard slopping out of tin cans.

so no room for mimicries—
history: its invasions: perverted
repetitions      death marches

hill stations      conquistadors.
& we watch the sun come up

think it’s down in reverse. news
of terrible brown bodies
shunted.             this wish:

that the world’s full blossoming
might unhinge such absurd thievery.


to be other is to read badly-
drawn maps.

our brown breasts want
for thrum—

for curve of rib
to hum

with a revolutionary’s
love song.


oh how the milk-stained
                                hush. remind them
                          of Dogtown, USA:
                                      los Indios Bravos forced
             into false homes     replicas. made
                                                                 to eat mutt
                                                                 be mutt       spit-
                                      snarl muzzled     that fascist gag.

                                nourishes best coaxed
             from familiar crevice—
                                      sweet bone. tender
                          on the tongue—
                                             our own canine muscles.
             bitten inner cheek. in this way
                                      we taste ourselves.


taste mother taste father     bitter
as herbs from a bastard country.

do not bend. be as narra heartwood
culled for its burl. be as fissured nib—

ink your terrible body onto paper:
that whitest of worlds.

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