Size / / /

Inside my lungs, 

he paves a road with his screams,

in which he loiters, 

kicking the boxes he encounters.


One night

he made a painting of his mother:

a river running with her milk, 

and a golden basin 

where he hid from darkness.

He then unclasped his fingers,

and went to sleep in the eyes

of the painting.


The only friend he ever made

was a small locust

his mother needed to cook

one day.


He read Baudelaire

as the neighborhood's residents

looked him up and down

and kept their daughters

behind closed doors.


He started eating words

for dinner

since he became a poet.


To the most recent war,

he contributed nothing.

He found it sufficient to shake hands

with his gun, sick

to his stomach.



he painted a tear

over what has become of mankind.

Mona Kareem is an author of three poetry collections and a translator of Ra’ad Abdulqadir, Ashraf Fayadh, and Octavia Butler, among others. You can find her on Twitter @monakareem.