This poem is taken from Stand 221, 17(1) March - May 2019.

Mario Lawi Three Poems

I widen the wound in your red flesh. It was the dagger-like spurs on my feet that slit open your chest. Didn’t you too try to steal my heart? Outside the arena, people roar, imagining our duel to be the re-enactment of a war story brought here by European missionaries. I am the knight in a coat of mail. You are the man in a turban who will safekeep the name of your God even if it means shedding blood. What is it in fact that we are trying to defend?

The evening has turned out to be a long one. Yet it was just this morning I first saw your cockscomb protruding from a basket. The fact is, I feel anxious thinking about the scar from the wound in that skinny left leg of yours. We came from the same mother—but while I liked to crow to waken my kind-hearted master, you were better suited at entertaining the little boy who once loved you dearly, far more than being in this arena.

A greedy thief stole our mother. Time, that stubborn gambler, separated us. The colour of your feathers was thought to signify victory. Mine, to denote great fortune. And this, therefore, is to be the decisive battle, even though we ourselves never chose to create a myth in which we destroyed each other.


Into the hollow of your eyes, Tobias swam
To save that fish which had lost the way home.

The Honourable Ass

After enduring such a long journey, he felt
As if he were Christ. The world seemed
So small beneath his feet.

So comely was his appearance
In the reflection on the lake’s surface
His thirst was indemnified. For the fishermen
Who tethered their crafts at the lake’s shore
He felt he had performed a great service.
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