In Captivity: Poetry

(Welcome to Part 4 of the Internet exclusive short story, “In Captivity.” Be sure to check out Parts One, Two, and Three if you need to catch up.)

You don’t eat, little fish, how you supposed to escape? How you supposed to stab the crazy little man with the knife, eh? Eh? You just going to sit there and stare me to death? Play on my human sympathy, ndugu? Oh, that’s a big mistake. But this rice? It’s the tops, man. Like, MSG and sugar and shit and everything. You like milk? I love it with milk, man. Love it.

It’s funny, you know. Sometimes I sit here and stare out at all this…shit, and I think, I can almost see it from your eyes. It’s hard, you know, but I can do it. Nobody else—they don’t even try. No brains in their heads, I swear. But it makes me think.

This old man, once, well, he thought he was being smart. He sat me down and he says ‘Boy,’ he says, ‘It’s not enough to live. When you stand in the desert, everywhere around you you must know is the shattered visage of frowning, wrinkled cold command, and you should stand there and know that its sculptor already read the passions of men, and lo, lo you little shit, the hand that mocked them and the heart that fed—’ Oh you Americans always know it. At least, the one line. It’s like you don’t have the attention span for all the rest, but you know, it’s a poem; it’s never just one line!

Fuck it.

LOOK ON MY WORKS, YE MIGHTY, AND DESPAIR!

And you know what? Oh, I laughed. Laughed as much as you probably want to shit yourself right now. Because just like his little poem, his little lecture, there wasn’t nothing there. You can say they’re looking out at me, but there isn’t nothing.

I’m not stupid, man. Everything dies. You get that, don’t you? Everything dies. It goes away. The words, maybe they live on, but the people, they all decay. And the old man, he thought he could use that to shake me into righting myself. Well. He wanted sand and you know what? I gave it to him. Three holes to the chest and I spread him wide, stake stake stake and left him for the vultures.

Of course, he was right. All those little–what you say–hipster?…shits that babble out the nothings of its monuments tears all got the right of it. There’s nothing here. Everybody’s screwing themselves bloody trying to make themselves right, but they’re all screwed up in the HEAD. There’s nothing! They say the words but they don’t get what that means!

I kill you today, somebody cries, sure, mommy in her far away house, but tomorrow? When mommy’s dead? Ain’t nobody crying. At best you get a tombstone with a little word, and the wind, she picks it up and she wipes the name off or worms eat your corpse and you aren’t nothing. You don’t see it. You don’t hear it. What’s a name? You live until you die, and then none of it matters any more. You’re all just dust.

And you know? When I realized that, I think, is when I realized what you gotta do. It’s all about the take, fishy. About the here and the now. That’s all there is. You take and you take and everybody else is taking and taking and you screw each other bloody till somebody taps out, and life, life is just trying to make the most of life while you have it, because  there ain’t anything but. Morality? Fuck, what’sat if there ain’t nothing it beholds you to? I mean, if there’s no axe over your head, no afterlife, no spirits, nothing but the glitter and the shitter, well, fuck, what are we all doing dressing up playing Ms. Prissy?

Remember this, fishy: we are what we are. And if I’m going to teach you one lesson, it’s that. I took you, and I took this desert, because I wanted it. Not because someone told me they were mine. I took you. And you know? I took your rice too. And it was pretty fucking good.

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