I am not a type – I never type-speak
or leave type-fonts on hands I shake.
I expand like a chest of mirrors
full of the quiver of knives inside.

An arm wearing its own sparkling sleeve
sprung out of twirling pantaloons
I lean on the air and watch children gasp –

And when I hit the moss
my chin’s V fits into the earth’s M.

Reaching the middle of the battlefield
Lord Kisso pulled the reins of the asses
and turning to the bored archer Pisso
addressed him thus:

‘Pisso dear when the octopus of dejection
wraps its tentacles round your face
you do not throw your bow
and offering your mouth with sighs
have your brains sucked off –
you dig your nails into its succulent flesh
and tear it off your head
even if it wrenches off bits of your face.

‘You ask me whether your kinsmen are your foes
and whether I intend to widow their wives
who without warrior grooms to wed
would crumple bed with men beneath their caste
and make your ancestors in heaven fall
and I say this to you – Just kill, don’t think
let the god of gods think for you,
you be the instrument of his thought.

‘And Pisso, honey, you must surely know
having been the furrow for my restless plough
one neither kills nor is ever killed
it’s body, body only which the arrowhead meets
or by sword is slashed – the soul,
like me, of heavenly substance made
is imperishable.

‘To samsara’s misery men are condemned
by striving against the bondage of birth
but those who by my eternal law abide
and treat caste-duty as divine command
unite with me in bliss.

‘And the blessed, like you, whether they deceive or hate
lie oppress steal or kill
receive my bounties –
for Dharma is for you tailor-made
you are to act in your own interest
but attribute the motive
to nobility of blood.

‘And it isn’t your place to judge yourself
bleed your heart over the lives you’ll smother
the houses you’ll wreck –
act detached, I assigned the job,
your duty is to heap corpse upon corpse
and make holocaust a divine obligation.

‘So Pisso, let us go, pick up your bow
slaughter like a slave, I will be the salve of your conscience
mow down this horde, the harvest’s in the hereafter.’

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN


Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences