by M Sereno

I moved here five years ago. People tell me
they like my smile, the way I shuffle their paperwork around
without making them afraid. I have mastered
the pretty, noncommittal laugh. At the end of the day
I disappear: into the grains of rice on my windowsills,
mosquito nets, smokeless coils, coffin bodies of flies.
I have two dogs who sleep at the foot of my bed every night, 
except when they are guarding my severed half.

My house sits with others amid what they call farms,
grass-swathes suffocating for lack of trees. Every weekend
I tend to my garden. This year I've started on roses
and give my neighbours the blooms that survive. Most mornings
I take a train to work: watching their roads unstitching
I wonder why a car wouldn't suddenly swerve
onto another's path, what desperation
keeps them from collision. How I wish they would

turn, bone-ends scraping up enough raw courage
to shoulder through cages, screaming shards. Their ropes
bursting in a storm of intestines and gears-- I bite my tongue
and watch my fellow passengers sit and wait. Maybe I wish
only for fire, the screams, intensity, spark-glory,
blood-taste. I no longer yearn for forests, cables to perch on
but past shoulders and windows I see birds aflame everywhere,
how can I not free them, reach out,

snap their brittle bones apart in time with that song
I remember from another country. It is different
here, the air lacking savour, the people so open
they have forgotten how to bar their windows. Yet
it is the same. Each night I emerge for food
I court the terror: death by salt, dawn's bloody smile.
The choice: eat and die. I might love living
too much for my own liking. It may be

that people still possess capacity for delight,
and I want to learn more of mathematics, read more books.
Or maybe I await that crash, metal crunching
in one moment's madness. How very simple
to tire of the endless hum of feeding
and shatter all you have ever eaten
into flesh-sharp pieces. Bone-ends sawing
the music of skin tearing itself apart. And oh how I want it,

how it roars in my chest, how hungry am I
for any sort of color: red for fire, gold for blood;
for soup of bones and organs, mouthfuls of struggling life.
Tonight I'll find that pregnant woman with the hollow smile.
Meet her again unmasked. Claws out, clinging to the ceiling,
I'll pierce her fullness with the tip of my tongue.
It's too much, too much, she'll say.
The world will burn.

M Sereno is a queer Filipina artist who lives with her partner and their two ridiculous pomeranians in regional Australia. Her work finds her up to her eyebrows in ink and paint, building color-drenched worlds out of Filipino mythology and playing with baybayin calligraphy. Her favorite fruit is the mango, the golden-hearted queen of all fruit, but her loyalties are often swayed by the longan and the mangosteen. She is on Twitter as @likhain and her website is here.

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