Perihelion: An Online Journal of Poetry and Mayhem
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Walid Bitar


The stratagems of the enemy,
subject of pre-war conversation,
wiped smiles off his and our faces
when reality became unspeakable.

I loved him once, may he rest assured
in a grave I spent the morning digging.
I awoke feeling misunderstood,
thus decided I’d make myself clear,

carve in stone what I had threatened
when I was in a better position
to mutter something, and mean nothing by it.
Now I’m forced to act after I speak

in our circle of mandarins,
some opining they need a bit extra
to distinguish them from their closest friends
on whom they turn, barbarism feigned.

How did we lose the shared sense of humour
claimed later by each as his own?
There are various versions of events,
the solution conflating them all

before they multiply with words
in both my ears, and out both others.
I’m steps ahead, split myself in two—
experience shows that helps a man grow,

grasping though I am for ideals
formerly held at a lesser distance.
Almost as easy wrestling free
as raising arms high in surrender,

but who am I, entertaining thoughts
nobody had before? The good reason:
they’re not the kind that would ever come
naturally. I must snap my fingers.