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Five Cantos
Canto 38

The PHD-10624 MAYA Mix Taping Cording
Embroidery Machine spins flowers onto the cotton,
which was woven by Dhruv into thin strands twisted
through the factory floor from the dreadlock of yarn.

Modules fall from the Feeder to the Steady Flow’s
Augur, releasing debris down its waist chute to saw-
teeth that pull seed from lint through a gap in the rib.

Excess seed’s milled and oil added for Galaxie Eggless
Mayonnaise. The Trappers compress a lint bale that
slides into its protective plastic bag, which Mahendra labels
with I.D. tag: D42 24254. The cotton’s bought by India-
mart who source it from Shivay Technology, a subsidiary
of Pavati Textiles owned by Gopal, who, on August 10,
2017 plays Criminal Case, New Murder, but cannot buy
enough energy with coins to see the crime scene. Bayer
gives Rama a trial of seed in which they’ve introduced
a soil organism producing endotoxin that the pink boll-
worm evolves to resist. The toxin dissolves in his ground-

water. Sarah’s Mirena IUD shifts, perforates her uterus.
Josef injects dye into Tobe’s eye. Next door the mother’s
at stage four decomposition. They’ve lifted the unborn

infant from out of her and placed it on the metal table.
Rama drinks the bottle of Diablo. Gilly buys a yellow cotton
kurti and Josh says it matches her eyes. In the role-play
she is Alfa Werewolf. She catches the Seer and devours him.

In the shade of his dying peach trees, Bill lies down, hears
flies in the fruit that’s exploding then rotting around him.


Canto 8

A dot flashes onto his screen. It moves to T2, T4, T6…
Beriah calls to his superior to come, look. Droplets

are darkening the dust. Aarush walks quickly to his
shack. He latches its door behind him. Unfolds his
mattress. Sits, then lies. He contorts his teenaged body
to open his chest, open his palms. He opens his mouth
and his eyes. And he listens to the monsoon coming.

A dry wind rustles the wild thyme that’s growing through
the cracked concrete of Ibn Abdus Salam’s raised grave,
Behind it, two girls are crouched. Alula twists metal out
the fly of her No Name Denims. “We’re all God’s property,”
Isa tells his daughter. The secretary of the Koeberg power-
plant decides not to water the potted plants. Candy wants
to watch them go brittle and die. Bako looks down from
his window to a ring of crows round a ring of dogs round
the women who pick at the sewerage that the rains swept

into the street. Alex places an orange crepe-paper crown
on his head. In the gunpowder, his blue-crowned cousins
read jokes out the crackers. “I need to tell you something,”

Ian says to Ryan outside Dames n’ Games, “beggars kept
on coming. It just got too much and it was so God-
damn hot. I don’t know what came over me, but I cupped
my hands and begged back at them like this. Anyway,

there was this little girl. She tips the four coins from her
bowl into my hands, then runs away.” Ryan says, “Fuck.

What did you do with the money?” The bouncer says, “Sorry
boys, no entry in those sandals.” On the walk home,
they find a shopping trolley. Ian gets in, leans back, lights
a Pall Mall and Ryan pushes him through the city streets.

Ziva is waiting at the bus stop, thinking that it would’ve
been okay if any two people had shared even one experience.


Canto 52

Ben’s on Alula’s cloud filing through memories.
Her red dress, straps crossed on her back and
tagged “X marks the spot.” “Tag, you’re it”—Jack taps

Li and stretches out his arms, becomes a bomber.
He flies off the peer and splashes into the river. A

cross shakes then stops over Town Hall. The mayor’s
saying, “Please, come in. The labneh’s heavy in its bag.
And my goat, I’m sad, it’s her time.” The hall explodes.

The television technician has all the wires strewn out
the box. When he crosses the white with the red,
his son yells, “There. There.” “I can see.” A journalist
clears her throat and disappears. “Jesus, can you
see this?” Doctor Obi tweezers it out the stomach
lining and holds it up: “Cardboard.” “Where’d
you suppose the prisoners found playing cards?”

Faith’s just woken up on the operating table. She
turns to Frank, asks if it’s done. “Have they sliced off
my breasts?” André listens at the door, tries to recall
if the cat’s neither dead nor alive or both dead and alive.
The anchoress is seated on a bench when the congregation
builds stone-by-stone a cell around her. They leave one
stone-shaped absence onto street and one onto church.
That night she hears not silence, but her blood circulate.


Canto 10

Sigma Scorpii emits luminosity into a red reflection nebula
tilted to the galactic plane. Over filter coffee, Dakota draws
an asterisk on the form. She pulls a pen’s plastic case, rolls
its polished sphere and disperses particles of sintered black
carbon in pine oil and oleic acid that evaporates off the page.

The mouth of Ou River spills twenty billion cubic meters in-
to the East China Sea, Wenzhou city. The product destruction
factory separates from the flow, polypropylene bottle caps.

The Singularity’s securities are buoyed by new euphoria
in the market. “It’s excessive,” Amy says, feels breathless.

Liv lowers her body into a bath of dead sea salts mix Ylang
Ylang. Crocodiles thrash in the red water of the Zambezi.

Heba hears the click on the other side and begins to speak,
“I have fantastic news for Mr. Whyte, who is selected
to partake in our super sweepstakes.” Air particles wave
microphone fabric into an electromagnetic wave that
digitizes into laser light and pulses across the seabed, passed

the vertebrae of a gray whale and the bone eating worms
with feathery plumes drifting toward it. “We’re not interested,”

says Mrs. Whyte. Seismic forces wave over Ceres’s surface
forming water-volcanoes on its antipode. Yellow meadow ants
stroke with their antennae round morph aphids to milk
honeydew in the Carpathian Mountain’s coniferous forest.

Jenna swirls her mug thrice and spills out its hot liquid.
Tea leaves cluster into a mounted horseman. Henderson
leans over the glass divide to kiss Susanne, his tea-warmed
tongue twists the mandibular branch of his trigeminal nerve.

Watching neon tank-water flash orange, silver, Lucie looks
up to her mother and in the Run & Fry fish and chip shop

she says, “I don’t think that I am real.” Acid rain melts away
a layer of limestone rock. “We must ask,” the professor says,
“why they’d want to retreat into a mountain’s dark interior.”

The tardigrade suspends its metabolism to withstand a vacuum
in the microcosm. Denise replies, “Quite right, my girl. None
of us are really real.” Lee hands them their battered fish.
Four harlequin rasbora fish glide down the drawbridge
of the tank’s castle. Jane wants to turn to her son in the
Peter Pan bus and tell him, “We do not know how it hinges
and then the door slams shut,” but he’s too young.
He is watching Buddie Rose perform the spinning head-

lock elbow drop on Sergeant Slaughter who, he says,
is “done for.” Lightning brightens a field through which

ten men walk, then stop in the thunder. Amina eats the
cracked wheat until the arm of her watch sweeps to dawn.
She puts her spoon down. “What if we prayed not just
before we eat but before every bite?” Ali wants to ask.

Henri’s trying to get into an elevator with his sign, saying
“Need money to go say sorry to the families of the boys
I killed in the war,” but the sign won’t fit. He gets out.


Canto 57

The night mover drives Jin to the docks, parks,
and says, “now you’re one of the evaporated.”

Wheeling a patient to the Sleep Room for re-
patterning, Dr. Cameron hears a Dormaphone
playing her future memories, the refrain, “every-
body loves me.” “Lots of people like you,”
Minder alerts Samantha and now “your profile
is losing visibility.” She does not check her cell.

In the Mdantsane prison cell, Obuya is breath-
ing in the Wite-Out thinners from a plastic bag.
His wall will begin to pixelate and fade. Janine
looks down from the sandstorm in the Bodélé
depression on the waiting room TV screen.

“The medication might induce jamais vu,” Cate folds
her hands in her lap. The medium says, “Your son
speaks to me now. He wants to thank you for
the year that you cared for him, for his dignified
death.” But Moira sees her client’s not reacting.
“I said, your son’s here.” Jin turns a corner, counts
four shipping vessels and walks up the ramp.

Tia watches raindrops whirl up on the tarmac
and spin themselves out and thinks, “What if we
lived for only an in-breath?” Ayla walks along
the wall wishing her body would be absorbed in-
to its soundless interior, turns into the photo-
copy room. Cassandra types into Google, “How
should I live?” The icon rotates, the page loads.

Dean watches the customer on CCTV stand
in the rage release room. She’s not touched the 
bat or breakables, she seems to be singing opera.
Sanjay’s stepmother enters the dining room and
his monitoring bracelet records a flutter in his pulse.
Dr. Cameron shows the assistant how he applies
an electrode to the surface of the patient’s brain.
She sees a mountain blow away like it’s sand.

Mpho stands in the doorframe of his bedroom.
It is 3 am. Pierre holds his breath, walks into no-
man’s land. Rebecca tells Janine, “I am looking for
my other half.” A fluorescent light turns on. And
Laura is licking her fingertips to pick the bread-
crumbs up off her plate. Lev thinks, “Oh God, no.”


Sherah Bloor grew up between South Africa and Scotland and studied philosophy in Australia and the United States, where she is currently completing a doctorate in philosophy of religion at Harvard University. She is also the editor in chief of the Harvard Divinity School’s literary and arts journal, Peripheries. Her poetry is published and forthcoming in Colorado Review, Lana Turner, and elsewhere.