The Dogs are Coming

I hold my madness to my chest
after the dogs have gotten here

I hold my madness to my chest
because chest madness is silence everywhere else

God in the basement drunk
& it’s only just past noon
God in the basement in bits
& I’ve failed to put him back together

So if time won’t do?
Can we count words to remember the lives we lost on that day?

With what words?
With what stories can we tell
when we round off figures of people who lived their lives, or not;
madness just
madness just
madness across timelines
madness beyond graphs
madness beyond the clotheslines
lines & lines & lines & lines

except for the spot at the fence
where the neighbours haggle over who’s going to pay for what

What stories are there to tell in the presence of lovers
what of nature
what of annual cycles
what of wind & ocean rising to meet the stars?
What of the sun?

Yesterday you got out for the first time since last Monday
I told you to wear your madness around you like a cape
you refused
then you rushed back into the house
howling, splintering, gasping for breath

You’ve got to keep your madness to yourself
I’m telling
you just must
the dogs are coming
& the sun is not your friend
the dogs are coming
& the sun won’t be your friend

Superwoman cape
for Superwoman nothing

What words can rise up
collect itself like a hill or a mountain
on Monday morning on the way to work
same as it has always been:
we have nothing
we are nothing
time is nothing
& the mountains & hills will mock us until the end

So this is why I keep mine close to me
these are the end days

God in the basement in pieces
God toes scattered across the carpet
& God digits remain on the coffee table

Copyright © Juliane Okot Bitek. Originally published in EVENT Magazine (Issue 47.1, Spring/Summer 2018).

The Dogs are Coming by Juliane Okot Bitek