[a new version of the 9 days of arrows section in dogsbody – an adaptation of the iliad…]
Then we’re in, now we’re in –
This is the future. This is Texas. This is science. Fiction.
This is science fiction and in the future there’s a war.
The future, fifty years. The legal age of consent is changed to twelve.
The fighting needs more soldiers.
Combat has changed in ways that make a child’s army more effective.
Easier to feed and command.
Nine Days Of Arrows
Fourteen, twelve, ten year olds in the thirteenth year of war, Corpus Christi Texas. Dogface and Nipple have been at war three years each.
The one thing that must not be blown up, the one thing all parties will agree must not be cracked are the oil refineries. Not the lines in or out, or the roads leading up or away. An attack would put the country sick, cut support, and the money would go.
Story, story, story.
Human bones used for fuel.
Force, like a dog, or birds, mouth at a time, takes boys to hell, and girls to hell.
The rain starts again when you think it has stopped.
Friends, Dogface and Nipple, three years in, ten then twelve.
Dogface is a killer of dogs. Dogface will be eaten by dogs.
Nipple steals Dogface’s radio. Dogface won’t forgive Nipple the theft.
DOGFACE AND NIPPLE
And Gendark is a fungus made from spoiled bran out of the Dunkin Donuts, cut with gunpowder and boric acid.
A tooth. A rock. Four dollars. And a 1998 Astros team picture:
The tooth is so you don’t have to take aim. The rock is a grenade. It has the water in it. When it explodes you have a force field. The four dollars is so you can pay to be shot if you’re caught. The card is for –
An arrow made out of a coat hanger and pipe cleaners rattles down onto the clay. The first arrow of nine days of arrows. Arrows made of windshield wipers. Bowstrings made of intestines knotted together with school program condoms.
This is the future.
DOGFACE & NIPPLE
I do not know when I begin a sentence if I will be talking about the living or the dead.
Day three of arrows and the last yellow birds of the year are working their heads like abacus beads in the light-starved live oak. This play takes place in the fall of the year; the vines are turning brown and the edible roots are contracting, making faces at us when we pull them from looted gardens.
Trees moving in opposite directions. We are diuretic, snot caking at our nostrils when, weak as boiled clothes, we stand up in arrows. Arrows of barbed wire, of cardboard, of yarn. We hurl sticks and rocks. We know they won’t explode, but if I do it without believing it then I am not doing it at all, I am playing. I am hiding, hidden in that mountain, like a genital souvenir.
Gendark is made out of Baby Jesus. Gendark is made out of Motherblood and methane. Gendark makes you fight and fight. Makes night long, long as bad television. But what you fight and kill is time. By-bye, bye-bye time.
Day six the arrows ping off the oil tanks, the regulators and hardened lines.
DOGFACE AND NIPPLE
They blow up the refineries.
One object is a flint and one subject is a flint and a thesis is a spark and there is a syllogism of hiss, smoke and boom, the rhetoric of flame.
It rains a crap of diesel and crude.
They fight this war with sneaker tongues, douche, Freon-coils, maxillary mock ups. With their fingers, disease; theft, poverty, and panic.
Eight days of arrows
Day, day before
The last day of fighting
The refinery will burn
For three months straight
Before they cap it
My hands are cold
My blood will not move into certain parts of my body
My skin is made of glass
They take the fighting everywhere
Corona of heat
They fight, rim of halo
Heat, the smell, and pink and brown light
The sun is brown
The moon is pink
On the eighth day of arrows they take the fighting to a crescent perimeter around the Corpus Christi refineries. They are so sick they turn in circles, nothing met its mark. You can’t say if oil is entering the wounds or flowing out. Still the children labor with their arrows and the spirits who guide them. Twigs break in the bows as they are being fired; twigs broke inside the boys.
Not permitted to duck, we wait for bullets to find us and turn into water.
One boy wears a raincoat because he doesn’t want to catch a cold.
This wicked trial, this time to pay. Sky is slave to a sun so vile it christens maggots and puts the just to sleep. Fish are trapped in stagnant pools. The earth is spitting up ants. Dry season. “In the dry season” is another way of saying “In the Bible.” My beautiful son, we were everywhere with you and you could not act but on our behalf. You are broken like an egg and mixed with our flour. There is no pulling you out. You are cooked and eaten by the soldiers of God.
DOGFACE AND NIPPLE
God is Great
What the Fuck
Master Rebel Prince
The Angel Autonomous
Nine day of arrows. Nothing. Nothing.
A child called “God Is Great” purchases a cloak of invisibility from a fellow soldier, and moves towards the enemy. Since invisible, his eyes can’t gather images. They pass through.
He was invisible
He could not die.
He kissed death on the mouth
And the bullet found his head,
Where the spine meets the skull.
His brain was destroyed,
For his god did not love him
But was cast in another play,
Wrapped in the allure of a wholly different drama.
The blood on the ground remains immobile and the land streams away under it.