Dilruba Ahmed
"Mother's Revenge: Afghan Woman 'Kills 25 Taliban' After Son Shot Dead"

Careful, now,

the gun still

in my hands—

who among us

wouldn’t open

fire for smaller

a wound?

My hands reek

of gunpowder,

a carbine. Who

has not perceived

that parenting

is to savage

the beast

that threatens

our offspring?

Bear with me.

Consider the wicked—

where to begin?

Men with guns?

Men clutching money?

Men who kill

with large hands

and then briskly

wave with the same?

Men who would

hold a woman

down and ply

their bodies

against hers

against her will.

Who oversaw men

pouring fluid

into the jaws

of other men

who grew as round

as toads and—

distended beyond


Listen: I am tired.

We could end

famine. We could care

for our elders,

our poor. We could

end war.


I’m reduced to flame.

A purified fuel.

The lost flesh.

The innocence.

Who’s to blame

when something

wrenches open

inside, reeking

of kerosene

and burning

beyond control? 

Found In Volume 45, No. 03
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Dilruba Ahmed
About the Author

Dilruba Ahmed’s debut book, Dhaka Dust (Graywolf, 2011), won the Bakeless Literary Prize. Her poems have appeared in Blackbird, Cream City Review, New England Review, New Orleans Review, and Poetry