From 2008. Originally published in “Flood,” a chapbook from Pudding House Press. Now out of print.
All people can be divided into two groups:
those who divide people into two groups,
and those who do not.
We call the people who divide people into two groups
“them,” and we call those who do not
“us.” Sometimes, we call “them” “the Others.”
Let us say everything we know about the Others:
they are grown fat with their unjust ways. They
hate us. They are the source of the Smell — ha,
they are overripe with it. If you were to crack open
the “O” at the beginning of the word “Others,” it would be
as though a durian had been split in a closet and left to rot.
In fact, the Others
are the splitters of all fruit,
the drainers of all carcasses.
We, of course, are the stitchers of that which is split.
All people, then, may be split into two groups: the splitters of things, and those
who guard that which can be split. We are the Guardians,
and we call the Splitters “the Others,” “Them,” “Those People.”
They are known for cunning, conspiracies, their inability to follow
laws. If you straighten out the “S” at the beginning
of the word “Splitters,” you see that it is a snake’s spine;
they have been holding the serpent close to their breasts
since the beginning. Venom is their milk; we
are their silent milkmaids, the ones who carry
the venom to their tables.
It sloshes onto us and we are burned
daily. All people, in fact,
may be divided into two groups:
those who are burned, and those who do the burning;
or perhaps it is those who are poisoned
and those who live on poison,
or those who worship division
and those who pray for shielding and healing;
it’s as lamentable as it is observable
that this is how it is: lines drawn between us and them,
them and us, the People and the Others.
In the end, of course, we know that all people
can indeed ultimately be divided into two groups.
and the division falls as follows:
all people can be divided into two groups —
those who divide people into two groups, and the dead.