Comrades! rage on
lend me your fears and lets
to the black dawn bend
to battle! arm yourself
in war.
make metal a god
show me your spear hand and
raise it
lance the open eye
inspecting your gut
your liver, your kidneys,
thin voiced, it speaks
and sees into your comrade soul
and says, comrade, your soul,
it is full of cuts!
stitches – all spilling
why, comrade, your soul
is nothing
nothing but a black hole!
I’ve investigated its stains, its parched fissures, its
flabby sides. we have rubbed the
skin of your insides together and it wears too easily.
it doesn’t measure up to what we had in mind for you.
we want a soldier soul
a real man’s soul
your eyes thick with mess and no seeing
wide eyed, blinkered
you are here to kill,
not to be killed
get not killed for us for your wife and your kids
We will give you something to do it with
Come! Raid! pack your
fists with spikes and face the enemies
red your hands and your face and your eyes and your neck and your shoulders
weaponize yourself
you are biological
warfare, your insides
all red answering to you
your spine a snake to hiss legs to push you further ankles designed not
to falter
and your clothes
all red
and your soul
all red
and the devil
all black
painting the gods red
look closer, comrade, their hands are snuff black, fingernails
like his, he etched them charcoal except their heads
he stencilled their skulls in black, but
their heads are slopped with burnt smiles
and we all fall into the blackness because really at the end of the day we live to kill
and kill to live and living is really just not dying
and walking and breathing and having to and needing to not wanting to-
Comrade! come back! stop your screaming.
grab your gun and take who you want from the field.
it matters not the colour or signia,
all that matters is the stacks of skin and bones and scalps
and the bags of blood
and heaps of fingers and toes
then, we can build your soul back up from the ones you take
fit you out with a brand new heart, seized bare handed from a lion,
a frog tongue
to help you swallow flies
mongoose blood
to pump ferocious around your new body
we will channel electricity through your body,
carefully reanimate you
shocking volts into your new eyes
so you can see electric and hold flames
and teach our ways
and reproduce
you will make us proud

Taking Frank Bidart’s Killing Stick
my mouth sopped with mango juice, I pare
back my lips and drink in the sweetness
before it goes sour.
the red ants tick along my leg
in warrior formation
more efficient at murder
than I could ever be
and less eager
the sun firing them up,
angry little ovals, with legs sticking out
saluting the brilliance of my mango sun
i squeeze the juice on their tiny heads
and smell them sizzle
the ants are the least of it.  red spots of mash on the sand
they sweep aside easy
once you can be much bigger and run faster
there is also  the lizard that wanders stupid
as if always knowing
he is to the left and will end up at sea
his legs warping
no sons of dragons here
the fantasies are killed off quick
especially when I am a god
with my mango sun
held in a mighty fist
squirting its tang into the dumb eye of a lizard
and he walks drunkenly into the sea
i push my feet into the hot yellow sand
slide my fingers in after
all the things sticking out of me
put back in the ground
my mango eaten out
my killing stick lays next to me
carved and dry



Anna Walsh is a living, breathing girl from Ireland and has only recently entered the big bad world of literature. She has been published in the Bohemyth previously and rejected by many many more. She tweets about life and death and poetry at @annaw999.

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