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“It’s just this, you’re injured.”

-Claudia Rankine, Citizen, An American Lyric.

 

 

 

I swallow the anger

but it does not settle;

my mouth reveals

reflux and dismay.

 

Your face purses

knowing the they

of your nightmares

have cornered you

 

again, and I

collude, or am

at best a dupe

of these enemies

 

as long as I believe

silently in paranoia,

plead for a better life

through chemistry,

 

as if they were never

real, they who live

I know, but not with

the divinity you bestow

 

on them

and I am left alone

to wait them out

with you.

 

 

 

A native New Yorker, James Penha (jamespenha.com) has lived for the past two decades in Indonesia. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and in poetry. Snakes and Angels, a collection of his adaptations of classic Indonesian folk tales, won the 2009 Cervena Barva Press fiction chapbook contest; No Bones to Carry, a volume of his poetry, earned the 2007 New Sins Press Editors’ Choice Award. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry at newversenews.com.

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