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

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