After the 7th century Black Arab warrior-poet Antarah
The enemy calls me. I answer
with my flint-knock pistol,
more faithful than any friend,
and my death-dealing SMG,
shattered in the thrust.
Clasped in my iron mech suit,
no chinks, not even when iron itself
refuses to hold. I rush onward into—
Honey, where did you put the keys?
A minor setback at base.
I return after a moment’s distraction,
health points full again.
I rush headlong into the fray,
no bombs to startle me here,
no sniper to learn my hiding place—
Why didn’t you tell me we’re out of toilet paper?
It’s serious now. Before the enemy can
strike, I crouch and roll, restock supplies,
then sprint back to the front.
Back to the work of death.
I build a mansion with the bones of the slain.
Opponent’s blood is my drink, the screams
of foes are mother’s milk. None is spared—
Can you take the trash out, please?
Damn. They’ve been spared. For now.
Kevin Blankinship is a professor of Arabic at Brigham Young University. His essays and poetry have appeared in The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, Gingerbread House, Blue Unicorn, Wine Cellar Press, and more. Follow him on Twitter @AmericanMaghreb.