In the twenty-first century
in the history of humanity
is not normalized,
it is elevated

to the physical trauma of
dismemberment, poisoning, beheading
and psychological torments
like spiriting children
away from desperate parents
under false illusions,

Drawing out a filigree of words,
pulling syllables from the tongue,
wreaking heavy vengeance for slights,
and delightful pain and mockery
to strike fear.

The implements
laid before the captive
like a smorgasbord.
The artist at work with a pliers,
the butcher with a scalpel
and a bonesaw.
The silver platter presented
for the head.

Stuart Stromin is a South African-American writer and filmmaker, living in Los Angeles. He was educated at Rhodes University, South Africa, the Alliance Francaise de Paris, and UCLA. His work has appeared in Sheila-na-gig online, River River, Alterating Current, The Chaffin Journal, The Garfield Lake Review, Blood Puddles, etc. Read other articles by Stuart.