Ryder Collins

on her clothes. She thought about her body
first, declaring it dead, unfit, someone
take it out, please. She didn’t even dash
the baby against the wall like she was afraid;
she’s ready for the burka or at least
a mate. Give her something. Or nothing. Don’t
call it nothing, call it something, call:
a baby, a burka, a fatwa, tradition,
a reason she’s alone. Or in heaven. Or
going there soon. The PARIAH knows about
suicide bombs but no one asks; they’re too
busy. Uniforms don’t make an impact:
the P’ll stomp the runway that’s our hearts.






I’m currently working on a series of poems about the PARIAH, which some of my friends think is a persona based on me. Although if I were a pariah, I wouldn’t have friends, now would I? (So take that, my friends.) "The PARIAH declares a fatwa" is definitely not anti-friend. If it is anti-anything, it’s anti-clothes... and maybe babies. I’ve been terrified of babies ever since I read Sabrina Orah Mark’s The Babies: "Then the trumpets. Then the terrible music of all those babies I once seemed to be suddenly having, marching, like soldiers, in rows. Then their round wet bellies coming towards me."