Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2019  Vol. 18 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Riflesong of a Dalit Comrade

You look at me & see only
the nightmilk of the barrel


before you saw kami
anvil beating the iron into sickle
you saw you shall not come near me


even dogs are allowed inside


I couldn’t touch the water
spout carved from the rock my ancestors broke
their backs carrying from the Kausiki


now you slaughter your fat goat
serve me basmati & dahl at the hearth
our home is your home
you say without meeting my eye
your mouth scythed
into a smile with hunger


I shine my rifle until it holds my face whole


the steel comma curled around my finger
a flash: a star: a pomegranate blossom
I have squeezed nothing

so tender


it outcasts my caste


look me in the eye
stop trying to kiss my blood-burnished boots

dalit with a rifle is a god




behold my arm of fire
my only good arm


I sleep in its dark housing
with its muzzle I touch your throat  

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