CHOKE

Was there a beanstalk, a golden-egg-laying hen?
No. Just a magic seed.
A courtyard of crooked men.

Was there a giant?
There must always be a giant.

In how many ways did the giant try to choke you?
He did not attempt this with bare hands.

In how many ways did the giant try to choke you?
He didn't choke me. He choked
the competition. Flooded
the market with magic seeds.

Was magic involved?
How else could he ensure economic
chokehold? How else the power to ban
sales of nature's seeds?

Was magic involved?
How else could he choke off
a normal trade flow?
How else, in revitalization's name-
a new-world economy.

What life were you doomed to live?
Must there always be doom in the developing world?

What life were you doomed to live?
Lifetime poverty, I was told.

How did you pay $1000 for your first bag of seeds?
A loan, a loan, a loan, a loan.
Forgive me my children my wife a loan.

How did you know the seeds were enchanted?
They only grow once. My pockets
emptied without end.

And what of the pesticides?
The giant said the magic seed
has no need-save
your rupees, save your children.

What did the seeds grow?
Nothing, every time.

How many times did you try?
Too many, then I took my life.

Who weeps now over the blighted fields?
My wife my children my god what could I do.

How many witnessed you drinking the pesticide?
On our first date, we secretly strolled
and tossed scraps to birds.

What did the giant say when you died?
From his heights will he notice
the smell of blood?
"Be he alive, or be he dead, I'll grind
his bones to make my bread."

Who'll pay the loans now that you're dead?
Please tell the world what is happening here.


Dilruba (Ruba) Ahmed

(originally appeared in AGNI, Issue 85, May 2017)