In the Mountains of the Lion

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Imagine having to go on with no way to touch.
Giving birth to the child of who knows which
stoned soldier, & never knowing the silky
feel of his skin, whether to caress
or to shove away, away.

I let him nurse to ease the swelling in my breasts.
I licked him like a cat — it was all the salt I could get.
Were they not terrible, those severed hands,
when they stood back up at last
& began to point?

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. Handsomely worded, and a handsome look on the page. The first stanza is particularly striking and playful (an odd word, I know, considering the subject matter). It’s as if the choice to caress or to shove away depends on the antecedent to “his.”

    I’m not sure what, if any, historical or current event the poem may be about, but I think I’m all right to enjoy the poem, even in my ignorance.

    Yesterday’s poem was wonderful, too. You’re on a role with these masks! (Sorry…)


  2. Left with no way to touch, but a million ways to feel, and all of them painful. What a surprisingly stark and dark poem.


  3. Thanks for the comments. FYI, this is set in Sierra Leone, and refers to the extreme brutality of the Revolutionary United Front forces under the late Foday Sankoh – picture Charles Manson with an army.


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