Two poems by Khadija Sharife

was the game they played

was the game they played
with you played with us too
slave owners enslaved by a logic
of one more than the other
here but not there
and where is it
the utopia sought

was it a castle
built in coin by numbers men
who said little in a lot of words
suspended far above the plains where we met
to live not die for ideas
suspended above societies
as we climbed the skies in despair

the handbook gave code to words
as fact
not now, not anymore
and in fine print
terms of warranty not guaranteed in this bleak economy:

i agree
i gave consent to be damned.

where once the world was made flat

where once the world was made flat
encircled by danger, mayhem; most men
stayed put to stay alive, sanity yours and mine
now the flat earth is flat, once more
economists at the door declaring
in fervent fevered sweat
we will all fall, so far and so much
if we dare …what? to question
this lethal map
the logical gap too far to jump
but please, don’t mind it

don’t mind the gap

and don’t shift from this model
of our time, precarious labor
grazing candle light, hollow bones
absent of grief, all gigs, this work is coin
from debt from death, to keep alive
and you cannot bear more than
this machine driving

a fractional reality, a reserve
upheld but never yours
cash in hand for a few,
but never you; these walls
of debt, a swell of blank cheques signed
in blood; endlessly growing,
this hollow drumming
against the redline,
this flipside
of sky-high vanity lunchin,

consumption
yes, the body is dying to keep on giving
and there is something
beautiful in those last moments of struggle
eyes wide open, ready to meet
an end, but what?
and what for?

so okay, it made no sense
when the hurricanes came, and the sky shook
when the earth rent open
and every living thing died a thousand times
with just one expression
numbers dwindling to single digits
like tokens in a video game
we ate the world alive, carcass
blood, bone
wore the skin as our own
clothing but we were naked

but don’t mind the gap

and money flowed by the billions
to islands whose secrets no longer had
doors and floors, flattened and glittering
with glass shards laid at our feet;
this land discovered was there
all along and long before
the map burned us;

but frankenstein was the scientist,
not the monster
and of us who read the old lore?
where they live; awed
exempt in contempt, and worlds apart
not us for we serve still; and
in us all, the need for more and more
until we go down to our grave
a promise without guarantee for those without
details of maps made by the devil
we know, a geographer of note;
and sold sold sold
for the most expensive nickel we will buy
everyday of our lives,

but will never own, never us,
in this fractious world
interest mutual but never equal

us and them
whoever we were in this edited down
nailed shut page of a people past

yeah

maybe,

mind the motherfucking gap

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