Parts of the tongue by Jane Gibian

A predilection for stone fruit
sees a trail of peach
and plum stones in his shadow
You had traced him down
this discreet path to where
his casual touch
was six light insect
feet on your forearm

In the magazine you read about
the ten sexiest women
for April; they all live
in suburbs beginning with W
and wear impossible shoes

You hunt for modern equivalents
of One hundred ways with mince
and watch his hand become
refined under its wedding ring,
the fingers longer and nails less bitten

He coaxes your shoulders straight,
uncurling them with firm hands

but you were merely bent over
with laughter
Now your tongue forks into four:
one part for being good-natured
one for lamentation
the third part of irony
and the last for an imaginary language

You move to a newly-invented
suburb beginning with X
where you will use the four parts
of the tongue with equilibrium

Your terrorist by Ali Alizadeh

You call me a barbarian.
I call you master.

You don’t speak my language.
My words

noise in your ears; my poems
meaningless melodies.

Your poems
masterpieces of literature.

Your clothes
constitute fashion; your homes

My house

the hovel your tanks levelled;
my clothes

rags. My beliefs
crushed by your technology

because I’m a barbarian.
But I must understand

your language. O master, your words
are essential to my survival. I have to

put your goggles on my eyes
to see myself,

a dangerous alien with
incomprehensible language

and innate savagery
because you’re so civilised and meaningful.

You have the weapons
the tools for proving the logic

of your power. You wear clothes
that bolster your shoulders

and accentuate your height.
Me, I’m naked

and paraded as a prisoner
on your catwalks. I’ve been

defeated, dispossessed, and now
detained in the cages

of your metropolis. I can’t remember
if I ever had my own culture

because your powerful voice
has deafened my memories. Your logic

proves I’m a primitive
at the mercy of your civilisation.

Yes, I understand
your language. I’ve been learning

the lexicon of my inferiority
from behind the bars. I now know

how to spell and pronounce
the terms of my slavery. Your shackles

are called Security; your war
Operation Freedom; your cluster bombs

food parcels for my children. O master,
I understand

what you want your filthy slave to be. I am
your barbarian, your terrorist;

your monster.