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"They Killed Cows. I Killed Them." by Tishani Doshi

From Audio: Tishani Doshi reads “They Killed Cows. I Killed Them.”

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Duration: 04:12
Tishani Doshi’s reads her poem “They Killed Cows. I Killed Them." for "The Poetry Magazine Podcast."
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Tishani Doshi’s reads her poem “They Killed Cows. I Killed Them." for "The Poetry Magazine Podcast." Doshi's poem was originally published in the April 2020 issue of Poetry Magazine.
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in the future, we might all be vegetarian, and this life will seem barbaric the way a corset was or eugenics. We might look at this man being secretly recorded bragging. They killed cows. I killed them and wonder where was his mother. She might have spoken of his childhood, how it was poor but decent. How like that blue God's mother, she to gaped into her son's wide gab and saw the universe once. Or she might have told the story of how he was led astray by a band of men in uniforms, not brown shirts, but pleaded brown shorts in which they practiced ideological calisthenics. How she's been standing at the crater's edge, saying, Here, Kitty, kitty, kitty ever since. Because this man, her son in the undershirt, Dear cadre cow vigilante. He's no gladiolus, he sighs. Even his moustache is pusillanimous. Maybe he was a Romeo in school. Maybe he wields the stick to reclaim what he misses most about his body. Or maybe it's always been his dream to squeeze the messy limbs of this country into a svelte operatic shriek. The camera gives us a glimpse of his chin dumpling. He will go to jail 1000 times without passing go without stopping to plant a tree or collect clean underwear. He admits it was wrong to allow his boys to record the killing. Jay Shree Ram silly to leave evidence behind, even though they always go free, even though the young lads enjoy it. So and Qassem, the man they killed the green meadow of his life come to this. Didn't his mother also once confuse the dirt in his mouth for a galaxy? Didn't he believe a dying man had the right to ask for water in the future, when people complain about how Gandhi should have made a comeback, when comparisons are drawn between YouTube and you punish odds, will they notice the bystanders in the frame, their shabby shoes shuffling like lap wings around the bloody, censored blur of Qassams body? Will they speak of the difficulty of watching him thrash around for an invisible rope to steady him home? The difficulty of us watching them watching him being killed or is that an illusion, too? The way a magician might swirl his cape to reveal his assistant is really a robot. No damage done here, folks, the way we enter the rooms of our past like gunshots to say surprise. I'm still here. No point carrying blossoms in your pocket instead of a meat sandwich Because even if you did not walk the earth exultantly even if you avoided disposable plates and more and every glacier and strung a lattice of pearls to the giant monument of love, there might still come a day when you are hauling refrigerators on a truck or taking the Children to affair. And when death arrives, you must let him strap you to a telephone pole. You must look into his 10 headed face and safe lay brother Flay.
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