A Vicious Culture

In Nairobi, we let in the lions and take up fear—

and now the river welcomes the lunge

and cut and danger and spilling.


You need to learn how quickly the distance vanishes

between the men and the lions. I am the ticket buyer; “Lion,

give me two pounds of human carcass.” Hesitate—


death awaits. On the sidelines, a woman drinks bloody sangria,

suddenly her eyes stumble open, her limbs compressed to fractions

by the beasts in a pool of red meat, the stitches of her bones untangled.


Somewhere, the lion sees the tremble and chases.

Somewhere, the handsome man mourns the name

of his lover and the sky wears grey a shade darker

than the hair of the clapping audience. We watch the lions attack

the fighters, pouncing upon a hungry crowd, twisting their spines,

stroking the desert terrain awaiting their next targets.


You cannot go; you need to remain abstinent from violence,

sweep the remnants of lost martyrs, forgive the lion who swallowed

your sister’s fiancé, as he cried out “They have made lions’ meat of me.”


We stood silent as small children with smaller hands

offered water from the curve of their palms and

a new peace swept through the lions, their tongues parched.


You need to learn how quickly the lions

hunted those human beasts in Nairobi,

how the lions gulped the water, drop by drop.

By Lisa Zou

Lisa Zou is a Mesa Community College Student in Chandler, AZ. She is the winner of the Mount Mercy Creative Writing Contest and has been published in the National Poetry Quarterly, the Paha Review, and Canvas. She enjoys reading short stories in her free time.

Artwork by Yiting Ruan

Tagged : / / / / /

Aroha (pity)

Dirt roads and ragged clothes on
emaciated children, pitied by those
cut from the soil, rich with compost,
in the West.

Streets paved with potholes,
and blood pools, seeped red
with road kill, that will
find a new home inside
the stomachs of those without one.

Arms ache raw with
rotting bug bites,
dark feet scarred with
untreated gashes.
Hot nights endured
with dreams of a
modern heaven known as
air conditioning.

Houses decay under heat,
swelling feet find relief
on a stranger’s tapa cloth.
Close your eyes. Imagine
a world where the brown
dirt that cakes your skin
runs down your body in muddy swirls
that will disappear down a drain.

Wake up to the moonlight.
Sweat slick on your skin,
thick cream on your feet,
cicada’s call from the night,
and covering your body is
a white cotton sheet.

Stephanie Bennett is an Australian student currying studying Creative Writing in the United States.

Art by Florence Liu 

Tagged : / / /