Illustration by Ajita Kanthathasan

There is fire in the corridor and lightbulbs are all dying out.
The whole block bathed orange in the product of those iron bouts.
The children tucked into bed wake up in starts and look out their windows.
They see an angel and a demon dancing over a saint’s body like that Tintoretto.
There is no solace in the pretty lights, the night is fading.
The orange angers the moon and the sun, the Earth preceding.

Half of the children stare in wonder, the remainder cry silent.
Half of the sun is shining now, the other half a black diamond.

To say the sight was green is heinous, observation does not mean a thing.
The truth of the matter will not be known until the pavement’s splattered,

Black and blue and red and the other irrelevant rainbows.
Cats, fighting dogs, fighting bears, fighting halos.

Maybe we’ve been looking at it wrong.
Maybe we all mistook him.

Maybe the sight of blood will not exterminate your lover.
But he’ll be looking at you different when you are up in the morning sober.

Your good lord could save you from me, but not fire.

That lighter was flicked long ago, this city is the iron fist.
The pyre sits, awaiting your loving breath.

Lay to rest your insignificance and step up.
This culture needs to die because down the vine is your worst hope.

You’re supposed to cut with knives and shoot with guns.
Learn the tongue.

Say you’re not scared but you feel blood rush in your ears.
Say you’ve done this before but you can’t see out your right eye.

Only shoulder you can see is your left one.
Only time to cry is when you’re the only one left.
Only time to cry is when,
Only time to cry is when,
Only time to cry.

Like so, a shot echoes.
The deed is done.
The heater hums.
This is theater,
how beautifully lit,
how beautifully shit trickles from his wound.

She stumbles out of the club with a nail in her stilettos.

Upon first glance, she fails to notice the Tintoretto.

Doesn’t see the diorama of dying, instead she’s dialing her lover.

Her boyfriend responds to her cries with cellular static; you have no money.

But he’s right. He loves you red heart red blood-red nose runny.

Sees the man on the ground with her boyfriend’s face.

What happened here.
Oh dear.

This is not life, this is not death; not yet.
You cannot die till you’re born; you still got time left.

Don’t live for your nation, four limbs cross four borders.
Keep the blood beating to every muscle in your corpus.
Every neuron.
In your lovesick, unable to move on.
Is asking, “When’s he coming home?”

It’s not life, it’s not death; not yet.

You can’t die till you’re born; you have so much time left.